I wrote this blog post a while back. You can see the old post here, but I have some new ideas on how to step in as a best man or maid of honor and how to give a good toast at the wedding.
Be confident. You can do this. Everyone is a little bit liquored up, so your audience is set (just like 2 drink minimums at comedy clubs). They want to laugh, smile and cry. You’ve done your homework. You wrote it down. Don’t think about everyone being naked (I’ve never understood that advice), but rather just be yourself and be ready to tell them why the couple rocks.
Be emotional. IT’S OK TO CRY! IT’S OK NOT TO CRY! Just let out whatever you’re feeling. If you tear up, everyone will remember that because it’s amazing. If you make everyone laugh, that will be the talk of the night. But, if you stand up there like a robot, that will be weird.
Make your speech about the person you’re toasting. You’re here because you have insight into who they are. Obviously, this means that there is going to be a little bit of you thrown in there, but aim the direction of your speech toward the person (whether that be the groom, the bride or the couple). We’ve all heard speeches are are more about “things I did and the groom was there,” but we really want to hear about who they are. You have a perspective that we don’t know. Let us into that world.
Be funny, sweet, funny. My friend Caleb has been asked to write way too many best man speeches in his life. This is his formula and it really works. Start with a funny story to get everyone’s attention. Then, give some heart, make everyone swoon, then hit them with one last story that will leave everyone smiling.
Be done. You followed that funny, sweet, funny formula and now you’re done. You did it and so don’t keep talking.
Don’t start your toast with the phrase “For those who don’t know me…” Everyone does this. Don’t believe me? Check out this video from Preston Films. You’re better than this.
Don’t tell the story of writing your speech. No one cares about where you were sitting when you wrote it down or that you wrote it at 2 am that morning. Remember from above, this speech isn’t about you.
Don’t tell inside jokes. The fastest way to alienate a crowd is to make them feel like they’re an outsider. You want them to feel like they’re a part of your friendship, so make sure that whatever you say brings the crowd along for the ride. You can certainly tell the story behind an inside joke and bring everyone into the fun, but to hear “and we’ll always have Cancun ’09” with no context will only make people feel like outsiders and make assumptions about what that really means.
Don’t apologize for reading your speech off your phone. It’s 2018. No one owns a printer and no one is going to judge you for using it. No one is even going to notice that you’re using it unless you point it out to us all.
Don’t talk about the stuff you shouldn’t talk about. I know this should be obvious, but I’m just going to write them here. Off-limit topics: Previous partners, family rifts, most bodily functions, limit one drunken episode per toast, alluding to promiscuity, unexplained inside jokes, and generally anything that won’t make the audience love the couple just a little bit more.
Do you have any other tips on how to write a good wedding speech? Put them in the comments!
Joe Tobiason | Wedding Photographer Seattle | How to give a good toast