How many weddings have you been to? I’ve have been to several to put it lightly. In that time I can comfortably say that I have sat through several hours worth of speeches. There is a delicate science and art to the speech giving process that few can master. I have been bored and wishing I was anywhere but there at times, I’ve also laughed out loud to the point of tears hearing a speech from a best man that I met earlier that day. There are 3 guys at each wedding that commonly give speeches- the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus on the groom and best man speech. It’s easy to screw this up so let’s try to break it down a little bit to give you a little bit more confidence going into it.
How To Start
What is this moment about? Well, it’s a time when you are the center of attention and everyone expects you to wow them. No joke. Everyone wants to hear a great speech and this is the show they came to see at this particular reception. Give the people what they want. Start thinking about what all of this means to you- the wedding, the bride, the people you want to mention/thank and what you’ve experienced together. Get a pen and paper and write down your favorites things about these people then write down your favorite stories from the past.
Fine Tune Your Speech
Now we need a beginning, middle and end. Unless you have a proven ability to improvise and do it well, you need to write out every word. Don’t feel the need to actually read it word for word on the day of but make sure that at some point you had a full speech written out for you to reference.
I have a few rules here that entirely revolve around the mandate of being unique and being yourself. For the best man, don’t start with “If we haven’t met yet….”, this is what I like to call “fluff”. Fluff is extra words added to a speech that serves no purpose and take up time. Most of the people in the room have no idea who you are but you’re already ahead of the game because the DJ introduced you, using this phrase is redundant. For both the groom and the best man, get straight to the point and tell everyone why this day is so important to you. Did you come up with some funny stories? Great. At the very most use 2 of them, preferably if they in some way relate to each other. Very important- NO INSIDE JOKES! I can’t stress this enough, the inside joke is the best way to get crickets other than saying something derogatory about the bride. Make sure the story is something that everyone will get and laugh at.
Keep an eye on the clock. For the groom, you need to keep your speech between 1 and 2 minutes, no more. Get in, amuse them, thank the necessary people and get out. For the best man, do not exceed 3 to 4 minutes. You probably have half a lifetime’s worth of stories about this guy but trust me when I say they don’t entertain others as much as they entertain the two of you. The stories you tell are allowed to embarrass the groom (those can be the best ones) but try to add a hook on to the end that reminds everyone how great a guy he is. Pick the cream of the crop and share those. Don’t forget the bride; tell her she’s beautiful even though she’s heard it a thousand times today and make sure she knows you support this relationship.
Look, I get that I’ve been to a lot more weddings than the average person but let’s still all agree that there are some jokes that have gotten tired. My main concern with the overused jokes is that they are a clear indicator that the person delivering the speech went straight to Google for answers and didn’t take the time to put their own heart into it. I’ve heard the “put your hand on top of hers, this is the last time you have the upper hand” joke more times than I can count. Truth be told it always gets laughs but that’s not the point. Use Google for inspiration but don’t let the internet write your speech for you. Grooms and best men, the relationships you have with the people in this room are unique to every other wedding that every took place. Make sure the people who hear you know how special all of this really is.
Be Careful, Be Humble
Grooms, it is expected that you thank your parents but most especially your bride’s parents (assuming they wrote the checks). It doesn’t matter who paid for how much of what, they deserve your appreciation and this is the moment to give it to them. Your parents made you the man you are and her parents are giving you the most precious thing in the world to them- it means a lot. Even if you are paying most of the bills, act as though you are not and that none of this would be possible without them.
For the grooms and the best men, be careful not to put your foot in your mouth. It’s easy to say the wrong thing by accident so prepare yourself in advance and make a conscious effort to avoid it. Speak from the heart.
In the end, the most important person in the room is your bride. Remind her in front of everyone what she means to you and tell her how excited you are for every day after this one.