A wedding is always an occasion for celebration. And even more so if you’re an important part of it or you have the honor of making up the wedding party. If you’re the Best Man you have the pleasure of dancing with the bridesmaids and it’s an added perk if they’re pretty and available! But for many who have the privilege of being the Best Man, with it comes the dubious honor of making a speech. And for some, that’s enough to put a dampener on the evening until it’s over and done with.
But making a speech doesn’t have to be looked on with dread. In fact, it’s the perfect occasion to make a tribute to your brother/cousin/best friend, depending on how you’re related to the groom. A few ideas on how to make a memorable speech…
1) Calm your nerves
Don’t be jittery and on edge. Before embarking on your speech, it’s probably a good idea to have a very small drink, just to get you into a less apprehensive frame of mind. Don’t put it down the hatch in one go or over-imbibe though, you don’t want to get in too happy a mood and start slurring out your speech.
2) Good introduction
Get everybody’s attention with an icebreaker. Something that will make everybody sit up and take notice - either a reference to the wild stag party or how the groom has paid you good money not to tell any of his dark secrets. The first few opening lines of a speech sets the tone for the rest of it and decides whether you will have your audience’s attention, as you continue. Round off the first part of the speech by introducing yourself for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with your connection to the groom.
3) Keep it brief
It’s generally a good idea to keep the speech as brief as possible. If you’re confident of capturing the audience’s attention you could make it slightly longer, but it’s preferable to keep it of a shorter duration. At a wedding, everybody is eager to get on with the merriment and revelry and there’s no bigger dampener than if you sense an impatient audience who’s eagerly waiting for you to end a long-winded speech.
4) Be spontaneous
The best speeches are ones that appear to come from the heart. Even if you’ve written it down and rehearsed it a million times in front of the mirror, the knack lies in making it look impromptu. Don’t make the mistake of reading it out because you think you’ll forget what you have to say in between. Be prepared to ad-lib if you think you’ll get stuck halfway. If you really want to have people’s attention, you’ll avoid resorting to clutching a piece of paper in your hand with your speech scribbled on it, and make eye contact every once in a while with different guests.
5) Use humor
A witty speech is entertaining enough for the guests not to wish you away in a hurry. You have to hold their attention by cracking a few well-timed jokes or witty anecdotes. Don’t get carried away though and try to make too many puns or resort to bawdy jokes. Unlike a casual party, a wedding is a more formal affair and has a mixed section of guests, all of whom might not appreciate your sense of humor, if it borders on the vulgar. If you do make a couple of digs at the groom in an attempt to be humorous, make them well-meaning ones and at all costs, avoid being offensive.
6) Make it interesting
For a speech to hold an audience captive, you have to make it different from the other run-of-the-mill speeches that everybody hears at weddings. And what will distinguish your speech and make it stand out from the rest, are some first-hand accounts. So intersperse your speech with a couple of juicy stories that you know about the bride and groom.
If most people know how they met, you could tell them something different, like your first impression from the sidelines if you were party to it, or confidences that you were privy to that are especially funny, sweet, or endearingly personal. Avoid anything that will embarrass the couple, after all this is a toast to them. Alternatively, or additionally, if you are the groom’s best friend, you could provide an insight into your friendship with him and how it dates back to soccer practice and competing for the same girl.
In the latter part of your speech, you could comment on a couple of qualities you admire in the bride and the groom and how you think they complement each other and will add value to their marriage.
If, as a best man, you are or are not married, you can always offer your take on marriage and some good old-fashioned advice. Avoid clichéd lines about ‘Always letting her have the last word’ and try and make it something intensely personal that you’ve gauged from experience or through watching other people’s marriages. It could be light advice with a healthy dose of humor or something poignant and touching.
9) A toast
Ultimately, round off your speech by raising a toast to the happy couple and wishing them all that you would like to convey for a successful marriage and a happy life.