It is an enormous honour to be asked to be best man at a wedding, but this is also a request that causes much panic! Even the most experienced speakers may feel worried that they will be unable to perform their duties well enough. There is no need to go to pieces, though, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
The first thing to remember is that you’ve been asked to be best man for a reason. That reason is that you’re one of the most important adult males to the groom. It’s important, then, that you let your personality shine through in your speech.
It seems obvious, but two of the biggest mistakes a best man can make are to do no preparation and to get drunk before the speeches. I went to a wedding where the best man did both these things and his speech consisted of a couple of grunts and a bit of hysterical laughter, which left the guests looking perplexed and feeling embarrassed. So the first thing you need to do is prepare. Give yourself time to write your speech and make sure that you know everything you’re going to say before the day. On the day you should know your speech by heart, but if you’re worried about your ability to remember everything you were going to say then you could bring bullet points on cards to remind you.
Start your speech by introducing yourself – tell people how you know the groom. Then you should say thank you to everybody for coming, to the people who organised everything, and if there are bridesmaids you shouldn’t forget to thank them, too. A compliment here might even get you a dance later in the day!
The point of the best man’s speech is to honour the groom, so the main part of your speech should be some kind of story about him – but don’t make it too embarrassing or too rude – it can be funny but don‘t tell about the time when he drank so much that he was arrested for flashing! Use humour when telling the story, but don’t use crude humour or “in jokes” that people might find offensive or simply not understand.
It’s the bride’s day, too, and you can use this part to pay tribute to her, showing how she has helped the groom or how her personality complements his. For instance, if your story involves the groom consuming more alcohol than is advisable, you could then go on to say that his bride is a good influence on him and that he doesn’t seem to feel the need to drink anywhere near as much when he’s with her. Or if he has a particular personality trait then show how the bride’s personality is a good foil.
Your speech should end on a sentimental note. Perhaps you could say that you’ve never seen the groom as happy as he is with his new bride, or anything along those lines. And the whole thing should be capped off with a big congratulations to the happy couple before the drinking of toasts.
Suze Burns is a freelance writer.