How to Write a Best Man Speech

A short guide to not screwing up a wedding.

You’re sitting there, minding your own business, and out of the blue, an old friend gets engaged, or a brother, or perhaps you’re super close to your cousin.

That’s great.

You’re super happy for your friend/brother/coworker.

And then.

Then.

You get get called up to the big show. You thought there was an outside chance at being part of the wedding party, but you get tapped to be the best man.

Now, you’re going to be center stage.

Well, almost center stage.

But, beside a night of drunken debauchery, the best man really only has one thing to do. (Outside of holding the rings. Which is super fun. Here, take these heirlooms and try not to lose them all day. Do not recommend.)

You need to give a speech.

A toast if you will, to the ones getting hitched. And, I don’t want to put pressure on you, but if you don’t nail it then everyone is going to notice.

The pressure is on, and I don’t want to alarm you, but depending on the size of the wedding, and the you’re relationship with the groom, there’s a good chance all or most of the people you know are going to be in the room, so you don’t want to look like a putz.

So I’ve included a couple tips to help you through without looking like a dummy.

On Being Funny

Ok, there is a certain expectation to be funny when delivering this speech. Often, people expect to hear a short humorous tale about the groom, or a tale that slightly embarrassing.

I would encourage you to reconsider.

Take a look at what you’re wearing. Are you wearing a red or purple leather jumpsuit? If you are, then I applaud your daring fashion sense. But, there’s a much bigger chance that you’re not. This means that you’re not Eddie Murphy in Raw, so nix the amateur stand-up act. I know every guy think’s he’s a comedian, but it’s rarely the case.

So, I would implore you to not be funny. One, everything sounds funnier in your head, or with your friend group. I promise a room full of people will not think it’s funny. Plus, even the funniest story is going to take too long to explain, and really, people aren’t going to care about the groom being a small time viral video sensation, or whatever they did. People are going to stop paying attention.

I would suggest you go and watch best man speeches gone wrong. Almost every time it something blows up it’s because some dude thought this was his audition tape for Last Comic Standing. The temptation is too great to reveal a secret too personal or a skeleton that should remain deep in the closest. This isn’t the time to talk about weird girls he’s dated. Nor should you bring up what happened at the bachelor party, or how he really got that scar.

Funny is a dangerous thing. Too dangerous. You’re in front of his parents, his grandparents, and other people that wouldn’t like comedy so blue it would make Daniel Tosh blush.

This brings me to my next point.

Keep The Drinking To A Minimum (At Least Till After Showtime)

I don’t drink so I didn’t have the temptation, but I realize that you and your friends might have indulged a little at some point. And that’s fine. This essentially a giant party. And if you want to blackout do it, provided you’re not endangering anyone.

But, either don’t drink or keep it minimal. If you try to do this drunk. It. Will. Not. Go. Well.

I was recently at a wedding and the the speech giver was rather inebriated. It was hilarious to watch, but the bride and groom were horrified as the two speakers gave a seriously inappropriate speech.

They were too far gone to realize they should just stop, and they couldn’t tell that people were getting mad.

You don’t want to do this. Even if you don’t remember everyone else will.

So let’s talk about what you should do.

Keep it short.

As short as possible. The shorter the better. I guarantee people are going to stop paying attention after the first 15 seconds.

Really, your only job is to get in and get out as quick as possible. Nobody wants to listen to someone wax poetically on their ideas of love and romance. Plus, the longer you go, the more chances there are to stumble.

The harsh truth is that most people aren’t great at public speaking. Even the people that do it all the time really aren’t that interesting to listen to. So, unless you’re Jay Landsman in The Wire most people are going to start staring into space really quick.

Now, every template you look up online is going to say pretty much the same thing — trust me I looked at all of them — and they all boil down to introducing yourself, and telling a story, and then saying something nice about the other party or how you know them. Honestly, I think it’s way too much. Unless you’re in I Love You, Man most people are going to assume you know them well. The particulars are best left out. And scratch the story. I’ve already covered why.

Here’s what I think works.

Everyone is going to expecting something funny. I say go the opposite and say something heartfelt, and catch everyone off guard. Then they’ll pay attention. You get one or two really nice lines in and then congratulate them both.

Don’t Wing It

I know it might be tempting to just go off the cuff, but this is really something you should have prepared. The last thing anyone wants to see is you standing stammering, shaking, and sweating because you forgot what you were going to say. It’s not a great look, and the rest of the night you’ll just be the doofus who couldn’t figure out something nice to say about his best friend.

I think it’s best to have a couple lines memorized, and then you won’t be left floundering when it’s showtime.

Also, even if you don’t think this is a big deal. It is. Your friend spent probably too much money. It’s a big stressful day. You should show it the respect it deserves and put a little effort into it.

And you’ll feel less nervous if you have something prepared. It will go much better this way.

The Toast

Now, this should go without saying, but you have to remember that it’s a toast, and not just a generic speech. So make sure, grab and glass and toast the couple.

I forgot this, and at the last minute had to spend the whole speech trying not to forget to toast the couple. So do what I say and not what I do.

So keep these in mind, and hopefully, you don’t mess up. Don’t worry, everything is being filmed if you do.

Originally published at https://vocal.media.

Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories.

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