How to Ace the Best Man's Speech

August 24, 2019

Few speeches go bad if they begin with thankfulness.

C'mon Man!

I am a huge sports fan and I love Monday Night Football on ESPN. The games are usually good, but there is a weekly segment that I look forward to. It is called "C'mon Man!" It is part of the pregame coverage and is usually led by Randy Moss. The segment always highlights head-scratching plays, mind-numbing decisions and hilarious football bloopers. I live to see a "C'mon Man" moment on Monday Night Football. But I never want to see it on a Saturday afternoon at a wedding reception.

As a minister, I have performed over 1300 weddings. And while I do not attend as many receptions as I used to, I still attend a fair amount every year.  One of the highlights (or unfortunately sometimes the low-lights) are the speeches or toasts offered during the reception.

The biggest mistake is not preparing. So I want to give guys a little advice.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

The first thing I want to say is this. Prepare something in advance. Someone takes a microphone and the firs thing they say is, "I really did not prepare anything..." I inwardly groan, because more times than not, the speech is going to meander, embarrass, and definitely not say what should be said in that moment. I am assuming that whoever asked you to be the best man knew that you would be the one saying something at the reception. Make sure you prepare something aherad of time.

How should you prepare a good best man speech?  Sometimes they are too brief, other times they are too long. At times, they can get so personal or emotional, that the speech giver forgets there are 200 people watching. If the toast is a long list of inside jokes or lines that can only be finished by a few people in the room, then there is an awkwardness that goes through the crowd.  If the best man is already intoxicated, then it will be a classic train wreck.  The best man does not want to be “that guy!” Being that guy is very easy. If you don’t prepare, just get up and start rambling… you will be that guy!

So where can you start? For the groom looking for a basic outline, use this one:  

1.      Say Thank You.

First and foremost, say thank you. Be gracious. Thank the family, the couple, the new wife especially and those present… thank some of them or all of them. Few speeches go bad if they begin with thankfulness.  A strong “Thank You” breaks the ice and sets the tone. You can never go wrong saying thank you.

Few speeches go bad if they begin with thankfulness.

2.      Something Funny or Embarrassing.

Say something humorous.  Go here with caution. Remember it is “public funny” not “privately embarrassing.” The story of getting into trouble as children is different than the story of the groom’s ex-girlfriend.  Before saying something, as all good comedians should, you should test the material. Ask someone first. The most excited and nervous person during the best man’s toast is the groom. He is expecting "The Roast," but on some level, he also wants to hear something good at that moment as well.

Photo by Oliver Li from Pexels
Photo by Oliver Li from Pexels

3.      Friendship (What makes your friendship unique or special?).

From the humorous story, move towards your friendship. This is a chance for you to build back up from whatever you said in point two. Here is where you will mention something about how long you have been friends (or brothers/ family members). This is a time to compliment the groom, to praise him. In complimenting the groom, you are complimenting the family, the parents, and most importantly the bride.  “She is a lucky person to be with this guy because…,” because of something you have seen or known for some time. Many times, this is something you have known for possibly years before the bride even came into the picture.  In honoring the groom, you in turn honor yourself. If all you do is roast or rip the best man, the end result is about you. You are this guy’s best friend. If you are his Best man, then on some level, he has been your Best man.

4.      Wish the couple all the best, Cheers!

The close of the toast is a blessing, a wish for the future, good luck, prosperity, Mazel Tov, Cheers! Based on what you said in points 1, 2, and 3, land the plane in point 4. Wish for the couple for a future that is bright. Ask everyone in attendance to raise their glasses and wish all the best on the groom and his new bride. Show the groom and everyone else in attendance why you were chosen to be the best man. Follow the adage of “Do unto others…” Write the speech on some level as if you were wanting to hear this at your wedding.

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