How to give a great best man's speech

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The hot wedding of the moment (as far as the media is concerned) is obviously Harry & Meghan’s.  And Prince William has just been named as Best Man.  As second in line to the throne public speaking is something that he’s fairly familiar with – so the speech should be something he takes easily in his stride.  For your wedding, however, the best man may need a little help when it comes to this aspect of the proceedings.  In this post we offer some advice that he may find helpful.

Top speech-making tips if you have been chosen as the best man

·         Plan well in advance – that means at least two months before the big day.  You are going to be busy as the date approaches so get the speech preparation started early.

·         Start with a great one-liner or joke to get everyone’s attention and set the tone

·         Joke about the groom, not the bride.

·         Practice – a lot.  Do it at least three times, out loud, to an audience.  Also video it and play it back to get a feel for how it’s working (or not!)

·         Write it down.  You may have a great memory but nerves can mess it up.  Use small note cards rather than a sheet of paper – these ae easier to handle.

·         Vary the pace – use pauses for dramatic effect.  Also vary the tone, from humorous to heartfelt – it’s good to strike different emotional chords.

·         Speak clearly and confidently – it’s no good if people are struggling to hear the words

·         Don’t get drunk.  A glass or two is fine to help ease the nerves, but anything more and your judgment may be impaired.  You need to have your wits about you - in every sense!

·         Don’t panic.  If the speeches that immediately precede yours have gone down well it can be hard to resist that sinking “how do I follow that?” feeling.   The thing to remember is that just because someone else has been funny it doesn’t mean you won’t be too.

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Have a clear structure

  • Opening – you need a killer line that grabs attention and gets a laugh
  • Introduce yourself.  You’ll be an unknown entity to many, so set up briefly who you are and why you’re such good friends with the groom.
  • Thank the other speakers and congratulate the wedding couple
  • Compliment to the bride.  It’s a good idea to say something early on about how beautiful she looks and what a brilliant woman she is in general. This will set her, her parents and friends at ease.
  • Make some jokes about the groom and tell some stories from his past (more on this below)
  • Read messages from guests who couldn't make it, if there are any
  • Propose a toast

Keep it brief

You need to give you enough time to say something meaningful but without things starting to drag.   Around 10 minutes is probably about right – but if you are an accomplished speaker capable of holding people’s attention, you can probably stretch it a bit beyond this.

“No-go” areas

There are a few topics you really shouldn’t touch on.  You may think it’ll get a laugh, but the chances are that others will be offended.  So, for your sake and theirs, don’t go there.   It is therefore best to avoid:

  • Negativity about marriage in general
  • Ex-girlfriends or boyfriends
  • Previous marriages/divorces
  • Drinks, drugs, gambling, race, politics or other subjects that might give offence
  • Adult humour or any other mention of sex
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What kind of stories can you tell?

Stories about the groom provide the highlights of the speech.  It’s Ok to embarrass him a bit…but you need to use your judgement and avoid going too far.  This will partly dependant on the personality of the groom – is he serious and shy or is he humorous and outgoing?   Every groom has some characteristic, or story from their past, that you can use.  However, obscure stories or inside jokes are best avoided, because only a few members of the audience are likely to find them funny. 

You’re painting a picture of the groom and, to some extent, your relationship with him.  You need to remember, however, it’s all about him, not you.   While you want to raise some laughs you also want to help everyone (those that already know him, and those that don’t) what a great and talented guy he is.

It’s alright to get a little bit philosophical - say something about love in general while also emphasising the personal love story of the bride and groom. Seal your speech by saying what a wonderful match they are and how happy you know they’ll be as they embark on married life together.

We’re here to help

If your best man is struggling to prepare for his speech we hope these tips prove of helpful.  If there’s any other aspect of your wedding planning we can assist you with just get in touch with our expert team – they’ll only be too happy to share their experience and knowledge with you.

Jim O'ConnorComment