A Six Point Dummy’s Guide to the Best Man Speech
The best man has so many things to worry about – getting the groom the ceremony on time, not losing the wedding ring, and, perhaps worst of all – standing up in front of the entire wedding party to give your “best man speech.” As the big day approaches, you’re likely to lose sleep and stress out over your speech. But if you start thinking about it now, and get that speech written and, yes, rewritten a few times, you’ll be able to relax and take care of your best friend on his day.
Here’s a guide to writing your best man speech.
Think about why you’re the Best Man – Think back on your entire relationship with this person. How you met, what you guys share, and most importantly, who they are to you. That last one is the most important to convey – how you view your friend and how you want your audience to view them. Also, remember that you’re the Best Man – i.e. you’re not marrying him, SHE is – so include some anecdotes or shout-outs to the little lady, too.
Make it Accessible – I cannot stress this enough – NO INSIDE JOKES! This does NOT mean you cannot tell a funny story, crack a joke or mention a funny nickname you’ve given the person. What is DOES mean is that your entire audience wants to enjoy the speech, so let them. I can’t tell you the number of Best Man/Maid of Honor speeches I have heard that started with, “I love Schmitty because he’s the Terminator, because of that time at that bar with that girl…[about 5 people laugh]…awww yeah you know what I mean!”. Make sure everyone is in on the joke! And on that note…
Keep it Clean – Save the raunchy stuff and the swearing for the Bachelor Party, bro. Great Aunt Mildred does not want to know what happened in Vegas – after all, it stays in Vegas. Also, while it may be funny the first time, trust me, you don’t want to be the guy who taught the bride’s 5-year-old cousin the F-bomb. Depending on the crowd, dropping a few swear words might be okay, but don’t turn the air blue or you may get a reaction like the one in the photo below. For words to avoid, please see George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.”
Share the Accolades – Yeah, you might be the Big Man, you may be His Favorite Buddy, you may have paid for his lapdance at the Stag Night, but there are other people who have contributed, too. Take a moment to give thanks to the other Groomsmen/Ushers, the Bridesmaids, the Maid of Honor, and of course the Bride and Groom’s parents for creating them.
Keep it Short and Sweet – Write it on notecards (bullet points, at least) so you don’t start to ramble, or even have a prearranged signal with a buddy if you start to go off topic while in your cups. Nobody likes a half-hour Best Man speech, they want to friggin’ eat! Also, try to keep it mostly positive. Teasing your mates is fine when it’s just you guys, but when you rag on them excessively in front of all their friends and family, it just comes off as mean-spirited, and you look like a jerk.
Speak from the Heart – This may be a pretty obvious piece of advice, but oft-repeated advice is often so for a reason. A speech that isn’t perfectly articulated but is heartfelt and full of emotion is worth ten droll, well-written and distant pieces of work. Feel free to quote things in your speech – especially at the start or end – but don’t make it yet another reading, and don’t try to emulate anyone else’s style. Be yourself and talk about your real feelings! Yeah, I know, you’re a guuuy and that’s harrrrd – get over it. Tell him you love him, that you’re happy for him, and that he’s your best friend in the world – there won’t be a dry eye in the house.