Wedding Traditions: The Best Man’s Speech and Toast

You have just been asked to be the best man. What an honor! There are many aspects to this job, one of which is the best man’s speech or toast at the wedding reception. This is one of the most difficult duties or traditions for many people as most people have at least a bit of stage fright!

As a professional who has had the opportunity to speak in front of over a thousand small and large audiences, I will attempt to make this part of your job a lot easier. So, listen-up and take heart. It is not that difficult if you take the time and effort.

My first piece of advice is to speak from the heart. If you are the best man, you have probably known the groom for a long time. You have experienced numerous life experiences and have spent a lot of time talking to him about school, work, family, his future, his plans for marriage. You may have even had a role in introducing the groom to the bride. So, make sure you really talk from your heart. For most men that is difficult, but if you are honest and sincere and reflective, you will hit a home run!

Second, a best man’s speech is a conversation to your friend, the bride and the guests. You probably know many of them so just act like you are in a local pub and talk! Look at different people during the speech, not just the bride and groom. Tell a story about some of your experiences, about how long you have been friends, what a great person he is, about how the groom was swept off his feet by the bride, how you went on a trip together, how you succeeded in a challenge, how you and he advised each other in life matters, love, friendship, difficulties. But, keep it short, as the whole speech is typically just 5-7 minutes.

You can also tell about how the bride and groom are so in love, about how they are different and alike, how they looked and looked for the perfect mate before they found each other. You can use quotes or even better scripture to describe their love and commitment to each other.

Be very gentle with the bride. Compliment her, her dress, her glow, her beauty. Say some things about what a great wife she will make for the groom. Never, never, never embarrass the bride or say anything other than nice things. This woman is going to be your best friend’s wife and you do not want to stain the occasion for either of them or the audience! Sure you can tell a funny story about something the bride and groom did or about how she may have not thought the groom was in her league, but do not cause an embarrassment!

Write your speech down! I cannot emphasize this enough. If you do not write it down, you may do a great job at first but you will eventually start to ramble and loose the audience. Start early! Putting a speech together is not something you should start the night before. It should be started in a note or outline form long before the wedding. Start a small notebook with your thoughts and add to it over several weeks or months. As you think about different aspects of the upcoming wedding and the groom, you will have a treasure chest of great ideas. A week or more prior to the wedding, write it out as if you were going to read it. Then practice it. Not once, not twice, but a dozen times at least. If you can, record it with your I phone or a video camera. That way you can see and hear how it actually flows, how your facial expressions look, where to pause, where to speed up. Perfection takes time, so spend the time. Remember, this is the most important day of your friend’s life, treat it with respect! (Also, it will most likely be recorded by a videographer and there are no retakes like in the movies!) Keep it up beat. Always end a best man’s speech on a positive note and look at the bride and groom as you raise your glass and offer the toast.

My final advice is to relax prior to the speech. Take your notes to keep you focused. And avoid alcohol (or at least have only a small amount) prior to the speech! No one wants to hear you slur and stumble.

By doing a little planning and a lot of practice, you will give a speech that will reflect how special your relationship with the groom is and be remembered for a long time!

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