Blog by Rev. Phil Landers of "I Do" Weddings - Special thanks for his experienced input on an important tradition!
6 Tips for an Amazing Best Man Speech
These Work for the Maid / Matron of Honor Speech, Too
One of the highlights of every reception for me are the speeches -- best man, maid or matron of honor, sometimes the father of the bride. I've laughed often. Every once in a while, I've cried. (For clarity, I'm going to comment on the best man toast --- but the principles apply to all of them.)
Tip #1: Write it Out
In order to say all that you want to say -- the jokes, the advice, the praise -- you must write it out.
Do not wing it. You will forget half of your speech. I'm a professional public speaker. I write out every word that will be said at a wedding.
You're going to be nervous. You'll get a drink or two from the bar before your speech. You'll be a lot calmer if it's all written out -- in advance.
The Right Distance to Hold a Microphone
Tip #2: Do Not Talk About Past Girlfriends
You're celebrating your best friend -- who is sitting next to his new wife. It's just
not appropriate to mention how bad the other girlfriends were -- leading up to how right she is for him. It doesn't work. I've seen this bomb 98% of the time.
The Wrong Distance to Hold a Microphone
Tip #3: Do Tell Embarrassing Stories About the Groom
I've had many best men come up to me after the wedding and tell me that I just took half their speech away -- for I just told the couple's love story at the wedding ceremony. I reply, "Tell stories from before they met."
What dweeby qualities did the groom have when you first met him? Tell us some embarrassing stories (as long as you follow tip #2).
Tip #4: Praise the Groom and the Bride
Don't forgot to seque into what you love about your best friend. What are his best qualities? How has the bride enhanced them? Then share what's so special about his new wife.
Tip #5: Hold the Microphone Like an Ice Cream Cone
The absolute biggest frustration that I have -- bar none -- is that I can't hear them. This happens a lot! You've put time, effort and thought into the toast. Then you hold the microphone like you see in the photo just above. That's too far away! Maybe the DJ can turn it up to catch your voice. Probably not (for they can't risk feedback.)
Look at the top photo. That's how close you need to hold it. I know you have a booming voice. But they won't hear you on the other side of the banquet hall.
Hold it right in front of your mouth. Really. Think of it like an ice cream cone. (But don't lick it!)
Tip #6: Don't Forget to Toast the Newlyweds
This happens frequently. You have a microphone in one hand, held close. You have the speech written out in the other hand. Perhaps the DJ asked you to move. Your champagne glass is nowhere close.
Worse, you forget to end your speech with a toast. We're all expecting it. The champagne has been poured. Give us a reason to clink our glasses.
PRO TIP: have groomsman #2 nearby during your speech. He will:
Nudge your elbow to make sure you keep the microphone near your mouth. Everyone lowers it over time -- without being aware of it.
Have your champagne glass ready to give you. For you have the microphone in one hand and the speech in the other.
Bottom line: It's a huge honor to give the best man speech.
Prepare well, make sure we can hear you and toast!