How to Give a Killer Best Man’s Speech

by GK on June 10, 2011 · 5 comments

They say we hurt the ones we love most, but that might also go for striking fear into them. I’m talking fear of the Jason Vorhees variety. And I faced that fear last weekend in one of the world’s loveliest locations.

One of my best friends, J-Raw, asked me earlier this year to be the best man at his wedding in Carmel. I said yes in an instant, and I looked forward to the day. But my job came with one oft-dreaded requirement: the best man’s speech.

I’d never given one before, and I found myself asking friends for advice and researching speech tips online — much like I once researched how to talk to girls. (Believe it or not, people likewise charge for products that teach best-man toasts. There is a market for everything, it seems.)

Based on the advice I’d gathered, I devised a little formula for giving my speech, and it worked beautifully. Compliments galore. So for when your day comes, I thought I’d offer some Best Man Game.

First, a side note: The paper-and-lace boutonniere you see me wearing was created by J-Raw’s bride, and I thought it was a creative touch. I’ll definitely be wearing it again with my blazer, and I’d recommend a real or manmade boutonniere for any guy looking to boost his style.

Side side note: Speaking of nuptials, I just heard that Greg of Los Angeles, the former Charisma Arts instructor and friend of the blog, is engaged. With Rob Overman also wed, I’m quickly becoming the last of the Bachelor Mohicans.

Anyway, let’s talk toasts. And before I advise you on what to do, I think it’s more important to remember what not to do:

  • Don’t let the speech go over 10 minutes, unless you have Martin Luther King’s gift for oratory (five minutes will do just fine).
  • Don’t tell any raunchy jokes or stories. I kept this in mind because J-Raw is the best wingman I ever had. I actually went to a wedding last year where the best man’s speech included talking about the strippers they met during their bachelor party. You could hear crickets a zip code away. My buddy Tre Tre gave me this advice: “You don’t want the hot girl complimenting you on your speech. If you can get the grandmother to walk up to you and tell you she loved what you said, you did it right.”
  •  You can poke light fun at the groom, but don’t turn it into a roast. This day is about him and his bride, not you channeling your inner Dave Chappelle.
  • Don’t get drunk beforehand. I limited myself to one drink before my toast, and it kept me from seeking liquid courage, which would only make me look sloppy.
  • Don’t wait till the last minute to think of what to say. I wrote my speech days in advance and added a few details on the wedding day, which helped my confidence tremendously.
  • Don’t try to give the most original speech ever. This is one case where it’s OK to be mediocre. Stick to the basics, and the rest is gravy.

Now, on to the content. I structured my speech like so:

Phase One: Thank the parents. Be sure to give their names, and thank them for whatever role they played in the wedding. I included the fact that they came from as far away as Mexico and Hong Kong, and I also thanked them for raising two wonderful, good-looking people.

You may also want to thank everyone for coming and contributing to such a joyous occasion.

Phase Two: Talk about the couple and how cool they are. In my case, I gave the story of how they met in their graphic-design class. The class was essentially divided into white and Asian tables, and by beginning their interracial romance, they got all the students mingling. I said the United Nations never did so much for race relations.

Phase Three: Talk about the groom and what a great husband he’ll be. In classic push-pull fashion, I teased J-Raw for looking bad in blue paint when he agreed to my idea of being Smurfs for Halloween, but I used that to show what a loyal friend he is. And I got him some applause when I mentioned how he changed my tire when we got a flat on the way to Carmel.

Phase Four: Compliment the bride. This was challenging for me because I don’t know the bride that well, so I went with something simple. I said that as cold as our outdoor ceremony was, she exudes the opposite amount of warmth toward my friend. And that from seeing them together, I know they’ll look as happy in 50 years as they did that day.

Phase Five: Tie it together with a touching quote. I must admit I stole this from the very awesome Art of Manliness blog, but it was a crowd-pleaser: “I’ve heard it said that marriage isn’t about finding a person to live with. It’s about finding the person you can’t live without. I know my friend has done that.”

Phase Six: Raise your glass and have everyone show their undying support for the couple’s undying love. And scene.

{ 5 comments }

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