If you’re reading this article, then your best mate or brother has most likely asked you to be his best man. Now you’re panic Googling advice on the internet for anything from how to plan a stag do, find the perfect suit and how to make a best man speech in front of a room full of people without embarrassing yourself.
That’s right, the dreaded best man speech.
Standing up in front of a room full of your family, or your best mates family, and the in-laws and friends he’s been trying to impress for the last however many years is always going to be an intimidating thought. And that’s without thinking about the content of the actual speech itself.
But you don’t need to be a professional comedian to have good craic or even just be able to make it through a 5-minute speech without gravely insulting your mates Ma.
Whether you’re shooting for the straight and narrow, aiming to make the bride cry tears of joy or just to drop your mate in it, there are a few basic things that you should take note of, to make an excellent
Prepare for Your Speech
Preparation is key in every aspect of being the Best Man, but maybe none more so than your best man speech. No matter how good a speech you write, no matter how many childhood stories you plan on sharing certain to get the mother of the groom wailing, the moment you get under those lights and in front a hundred sets of expectant eyes, it can all go out the window.
It’s extremely easy for the nerves of the day to get into your head and force all your carefully planned words out the other ear.
Preparing for the speech isn’t just about rolling the words through your head a couple of times. Repeating your speech to yourself as you’re walking to work is a very different ball game to the real thing.
But there are a couple of things you can do to help yourself out. Firstly, once you’ve got your speech down, test it out loud. Whether that’s in front of a mirror, or to some impartial mates, the important thing is that you sound it out. This will help you figure out how to land the jokes when you need to take pauses and help sink the speech into your memory.
Secondly, write the thing down. Even if by the time you’ve practiced it you only need a couple of well-timed flash cards, ensure that you’re not left adrift on the day and you’ve got a few reminders at the least to get you back on course.
Lastly, get a second opinion. There’s no doubt that you have the lads crying every weekend down the pub and could be a stand-up if you really wanted to, but it’s always best to get a second set of eyes, or ears, to read over your speech to confirm it tows the right kind of lines.
Introductions that Get Everyone’s Attention
The introduction is one of the most important parts of your speech. Nail that, and you’ve got a captivated audience for the next 5 minutes.
Luckily you’re at a wedding and not on Live at the Apollo, so the audience isn’t going to be heckling exactly if you put a foot wrong, but it’s always a good aim to start off with a winner and maintain the pace from there.
Checklist of Mandatory Best Man Speech Parts
Although it’s your prerogative what you talk about in your speech, as a general rule it’s good to touch on the next few things fairly early on;
- Thank the guests for being there
- Compliment the bride
- Introduce yourself – who you are and how are you related to the groom
Dos and Don’ts of Topic Choice
Once you get the introductions out of the way, the meat of the best man speech comes next. A good best man speech can take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes, so what do you talk about during that time?
Do: Lighten up your speech with well-timed jokes. Most guys go with joking about the groom because it comes naturally to them. Observe quantity over quality – a few, well-timed jokes will be more effective than peppering your speech with forced ones.
Don’t: Make inside jokes that only you and the groom would understand. And read the room, don’t make crude jokes in front of the entire family, save that for the stag.
Do: Give anecdotes about your life together with the groom. Embarrassing mishaps and growing up stories are both entertaining for the audience and nostalgic for your groom.
Don’t: Spend too long on telling stories. Long-winded stories will usually bore the audience.
Do: Focus on the topics of growing up, friendship, family and love. If you witnessed the bride and groom’s romance firsthand, you can share memorable stories about their romance.
Don’t: Mention exes, possible vices and other topics that put the groom in a bad light. Joking about him is fine, but exposing negative parts of his personality is a no-no. Also, he might have kept a few negative points about him a secret from his bride, so tread with caution.
A great tip is to balance your speech’s tone. For example, if you’re going for a lighthearted speech filled with jokes and funny anecdotes, remember to insert a few heartfelt messages in there too.
Messages from other People
The great thing about the best man speech is that if you ever run out of words to say, you can always ask help from others. In every wedding, there are guests who were invited, but couldn’t make it due to distance or scheduling problems. Before the wedding, make sure to reach out to friends and relatives who cannot make it to the big day and ask them if they have any messages for the bride and groom.
Write these messages down on cue cards, or, better yet, try and record the skype messages so you can project them onto a big screen.
Ending Your Best Man Speech
Best man speeches are usually ended with a toast. Once you’re done with everything you have to say, take a glass, raise it and encourage everyone to do the same.
So what does make a toast for during a wedding? Of course, the most obvious would be the couple. You can wish for the bride and groom’s success in their married life.
You can also wish them good health and a long life. If you know the couple well, you can make the toast more specific.
As a bonus, we compiled a few tips that will help you deliver your speech more easily:
- Remember to stay (relatively) sober. One glass to calm your nerves is okay, but a tipsy best man is never a good thing. You might make a fool out of yourself and embarrass the groom.
- Don’t write your entire speech on paper. Although it’s advisable to write everything you need to remember down on a cue card, don’t write your entire speech and read it. The speech is supposed to be your heartfelt message to the groom and his bride. And if all the crowd can see is the top of your head it makes for some pretty awkward viewing.
- Speak clearly and slowly. Remember that your speech, although aimed at the newlyweds, is also for the benefit of everyone on the venue. Nobody’s going to laugh at your jokes if they can’t understand you.
- Remember to be yourself. Yes, it sounds cliché, but it’s better to be natural than to force yourself into a persona. If you’re a natural comedian, then pulling off jokes would be easy for you; however, if you lack a sense of humour, forcing joke after joke would just end up feeling awkward for both you and the audience.
- Most importantly, relax. Even if you’re sure that you’re going to make a fool of yourself, shrug it off and embrace it. At least it’ll be one more funny story for you and the groom to remember for the rest of his, and your, lives.