How do I give a Best Man's Speach/Toast
June 7, 2005 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Help! I am the Best Man in a wedding on Saturday. I understand I am expected to give a speach/toast at some point. Problem is, the last time I was at a wedding I was 10 years-old. I have no idea what kind of speech or toast the Best Man gives... What is traditional of the Best Man's speech, when is it given, etc....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just talk about what a great guy the groom is and how happy you know he's been after meeting the bride and how you're sure that they're going to make for a great couple. Jokes, embarrassing anecdotes or other points of amusement are always welcome in my book, but it depends a lot on the nature of the relationship and how the couple would feel about that in front of their families.
posted by willnot at 3:43 PM on June 7, 2005

Go rent Four Weddings and a Funeral. Pretty shite movie but the speech that Hugh Grant gives at the first one is pretty good though shorter than a real speech and a bit more racy than I'd bet you'd see in many weddings on this side of the Atlantic. But the humour/serious ratio seems about right. Later on another character tries to be funny in HIS speech and it's a disaster. Take that as a cautionary tale.

Basically you want it to be clear that you think this wedding is the greatest thing since the invention of weddings blah blah and isn't this a great couple... but as the representative of the Groom, you're welcomed to take the piss out of him a bit and demonstrate how much of a loser he was - gently - before the redemption of this event. Oh and a bit about how great the Bride is for tolerating the guy always works.
posted by mikel at 3:45 PM on June 7, 2005

I'm not sure about all of the specifics, but my advice would not to try to be too funny. Talk about how great the couple is together. How you've never seen the groom happier, how this is a great day and there will be many more like it. Maybe acknowledge the groom's family and how great they are (if you know them). (on preview: what everyone else said)
posted by OmieWise at 3:50 PM on June 7, 2005

There's a book I bought- the Best Man's Handbook, or something along those lines, small, black, hardcover, and that gave me the guidelines. Everyone loved the speech, so I can highly recommend that one.
posted by gen at 3:51 PM on June 7, 2005

First: Keep it short! There are probably going to be a lot of toasts. People will appreciate the short-but-sweet ones.

Second: It's not about you! It's about your friend and his wife. Shut up about yourself, already.

Third: Type it out. Double (or triple, if possible) spaced, in a larger font than you thiknk you need. You are likely to be drunk when you give it.

Fourth: Keep it short!

(At risk of a slight derail-- and also of accidentally making this about me-- your question prompted me to dig up the toast I gave at my little brother's wedding a couple of years ago. At the time, people seemed to approve. )

As most of you know, and the rest can certainly guess, I’ve never spoken or given a toast at my brother’s wedding before. At first, I didn’t know what to say or even, really, what one is supposed to say in this situation. At a loss, I turned, as so many of us do in our time of need……….. to the internet.

Big mistake.

The internet suggested that I open with a joke. In fact, the internet even had a specific joke in mind when it made that suggestion. The internet suggested that I open by asking whether anyone minded if I took a moment to congratulate NewWife and Brother on the occasion of their thirty-minute anniversary. The internet went on to suggest, inexplicably, that I might need to wait a moment for the laughter and applause to die down.


Instead, I'll tell you about the first conversation I had with Brother about NewWife. Very briefly, because I have forgotten almost all of the details. We were on the phone, and of the entire conversation, I can recall only one sentence, and even that may not be verbatim, but still:

“She’s perfect for me,” he said. “She even plays guitar.”

Now what this proves, I have no idea. But look around you; look at Brother and NewWife. Is there any doubt she’s perfect for him? Finally, the internet suggested that I close by offering a toast to NewWife, welcoming her to the family. For once, the internet had a good suggestion. But I would feel a little strange following it because, to be honest, it feels like NewWife’s already been part of the family for years.

Instead, I’d like to offer a toast to both NewWife and Brother. To NewWife, for being perfect for my brother, and to Brother for being smart enough to recognize it.

And hey, she even plays guitar.
posted by dersins at 4:03 PM on June 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

Mate, I feel for you but as well as being funny and humiliating the groom you've got some formal duties.

Among them, you've got to read the telegrammes, thank the bridesmaids as well as the caterers and staff.

I suggest a trip to the library to get a book on the subject. As far as the speach itself and the real meat - laying into the groom - goes, the bluffers guide to public speaking isn't a bad place to start.

Best of luck, my heart goes out to you. I had to follow on from my old man in your shoes two summers ago. Talk about a hard act to follow...
posted by dmt at 4:22 PM on June 7, 2005

When I was my brother's best man, the speech was a toast at the beginning of the reception. I included a few of the personal details, like dersins and others suggest, and I also put in a portion of a speech from Odysseus:

"And may the gods give you your prayer: your own home, husband and harmony. Nothing greater than that: a man and a woman, two hearts, two minds that are one. A worry to their enemies, joy to their friends: this they know best.”

There are probably better translations than that, but there's the basic idea.
posted by jasper411 at 4:25 PM on June 7, 2005

It's not about you! It's about your friend and his wife. Shut up about yourself, already.

Yes, yes, yes. I was Maid of Honor at my best friend's wedding... and one of the bridesmaids took her toast time to tell a long story about her grandmother dying, and how my friend filled that spot in her heart or something else really cheesy.... uh, ok, thanks for sharing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:13 PM on June 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

Be yourself, do NOT 'wing it.' Read some examples on the net, and then start writing. Now. You'll rewrite several times over the next couple weeks uh.. days.

Practice, practice, practice.

Do not embarass the bride unless you are POSITIVE it is okay. This is her day, respect that. Jokes about you and the groom will go well if they are PG. Leave the stripper stories at the bachelor party where they belong.

Use a personal touch, and make it from the heart. People cried at my speech last summer.

Here's the toast I made, you can use it since I stole just the same:

Here's to the past, for all that you've learned,
Here's to the present, for all that you share,
and here's to the future, for all that you look forward to together

Good luck.
posted by vaportrail at 7:29 PM on June 7, 2005

you can wing it if you're good that way. have some ideas, though.

a) do not be an asshole.
b) talk about the couple, not you and your friend who's getting married.
c) drink a little bit--but not too much--beforehand.
d) do not mention that 50+% of marriages end in divorce and therefore toast "quality, if not longevity." (!?!)
posted by mookieproof at 8:02 PM on June 7, 2005

I pretty much agree w/ mookie but be prepared for the entire room (200 people?), in dead silence waiting for your speech.

I've had two opportunities to give this speech. I blew the first one, I thought I could wing it. I always wing it. I was very, very wrong. The second time I was as prepared as possible. I spent time writing. rewriting. The speech went swimmingly.

Next time I'll have the Hell's Angels in tears.
posted by vaportrail at 8:17 PM on June 7, 2005

It's not a big deal. It's far from the centerpiece of the wedding day. So mainly you have to avoid pitfalls, rather than shining brightly. They've been listed above, but just to repeat:
  • being too much about you, rather than them
  • being too cheesy/tasteless (sappy's okay)
  • being too long
  • being too formless, because you're trying to wing it.
    The only one I've actually seen (out of a dozen weddings or so) is the last one, where the best man said that he'd intentionally not planned it out, because he wanted it to come from the heart. A cute idea, but a lousy one, and a lousy non-speech ensued.

  • posted by Aknaton at 8:40 PM on June 7, 2005

    Write it out. Make sure it sounds like you. But it should go something like this

    "I remember the first time I met Jeff...we were six, playing on the playground and he said 'girls are icky.' Two years ago, when he introduced me to Emily, he said 'I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like her - I can't stop smiling when I think of her'. Today we saw Jeff and Emily get married...I think that everyone in this room has the same feeling, that the two of you are meant for each other...those of us who are single, hope we meet someone that makes us feel as lucky as your two are. "

    Etc. Mention your knowledge of the groom before the bride, and the wonderful change after. Wish them happiness in their future and make it sound like you're envious.

    Under no circumstances should you do it off the cuff. Write it out, but make sure it sounds like you. Show it to your girfriend...if she gets a little teary, you did it right.
    posted by filmgeek at 9:19 PM on June 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

    Watch out for advice you find on the internet, because these speeches are quite different in the UK vs. the US, and most sites don't specify their audience. I think the UK tells embarassing stories about the groom, which wouldn't be expected in the US.
    posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on June 8, 2005

    Vet some factoids through the bride and groom first. I had no idea that I was scandalizing the bride and groom a bit when I mentioned that they had been living together, unmarried, for a few years before getting married.
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:10 AM on June 8, 2005

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