You’ve been asked to be the best man or maid of honor at a wedding. Congratulations it’s a great honor. Along with planning the bachelor/bachelorette party, holding the rings, attending the rehearsal, and serving as the witness you also have the opportunity to give a speech at the reception. I’ve heard many wedding speeches over the years and I’ve put together characteristics of a good best man/maid of honor speech that I think would be helpful.
Do NOT Wing It
No matter how much you think you can go off the cuff on the day of the wedding in front of all the relatives and friends, an unplanned speech will most likely be uncomfortable, boring, or unmemorable. Write your speech down, practice it. Your best friend will appreciate it, the family and friends will be entertained, and the photos will turn out fantastic.
Make sure you are coherent and have your wits about you in order to deliver the best speech possible. Having too many drinks will sabotage your speech quickly.
In many cases you are the person in the way of the guests eating dinner so it’s best to keep the speech to no more than 5 minutes.
Below is the basic framework that you can follow if you’re having trouble determining where to begin.
- Give people context as to how you know the groom or bride. Tell a short story about it If possible. Try to avoid the phrase “for those of you that don’t know me…” instead begin with something like “My name is <name> and I’ve know the groom for X years…..”
- Thank everyone for coming and thank all of the people that made it possible.
- Tell a story or anecdote about your friend that shows his/her character and how it relates to life with his new partner.
- Come up with a story of how you got to know your friends partner and/or how they met and if possible some
- Give a heartfelt toast to the couple.
Make eye contact with your audience. Engaging with the audience will pull them in and keep them interested.
Bring a glass
Make sure you have a glass of something for the toast (if you’re giving one.) I’ve seen many speeches where the maid of honor or best man raised their hand instead of a glass.
Test your speech
Find some volunteers to listen to your speech and do a dry run. Record yourself giving the speech with your phone camera or microphone. Once you hear yourself saying all of the uhs, ums, and crutch words you’ll learn quickly to eliminate them from your speech. Dry runs will help you with your timing as well.
Topics to avoid
Avoid Ex girlfriend/boyfriends. There are some rare exceptions where mentioning an ex will work, but most likely it will not. If in doubt, leave the ex out.
Avoid Lots of inside jokes1 or 2 inside jokes will make the bride or goom smile but too many can make it unconfortable for the audience.
Avoid a speech longer than 5 minutes. In many cases your speech is keeping the guests from dinner so it’s best to keep it brief and entertaining.
Avoid controversial topics. Keep the politics to a minimum unless it relates to the situation.