Congratulations. You’ve been given the title “best man.” Let the bachelor party planning begin (cue the applause track). Vegas? NYC? Your mind is already spinning with possibilities. This part of your best man duties may come naturally, but what about the toast at the wedding? Yes, all eyes will be on you as you stride up to take the microphone. The bride and groom are counting on you to hit it out of the park. The bride is hoping to be cast in a glowing light. The groom is hoping you don’t embarrass him in front of all his family and friends. If you’re getting sweaty palms just thinking about it, don’t panic.
Making a toast can be as easy as cutting the wedding cake. With a little thought and advance preparation you can make sure what you say is a real crowd pleaser. Here are five helpful tips to keep in mind when composing your toast:
1. Stay true to yourself. Make sure that your speech is reflective of your personality. If you’re known for your humor and wit, strike a comedic tone. If you are on the more heartfelt end of the spectrum, infuse your toast with sincerity. If you are somewhere in between, find the middle ground between funny and sentimental. The danger often lies when a best man is too formal, choosing to quote the great poets and sounding pompous as a result, or going overboard with jokes and falling flat. Being yourself and speaking from the heart makes for a more natural speech that resonates with the crowd.
2. It’s about the bride and groom. Staying true to yourself does not mean that the speech is about you. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. The speech should focus on the bride and the groom so that everyone in the room can relate to what you are saying. Put simply, keep things positive. Even if you’re not wild about the bride, find a couple of flattering things to say about her. Share some examples that illustrate what kind of person the groom is at heart. And make sure to talk about the bride and groom as a unit, wishing them well on their new adventure together.
3. Don’t drink too much. It’s tempting to have a couple of drinks before you give the toast to take the edge off and alleviate any nerves. After all, the open bar is a central part of the festivities. But one too many drinks before you take the microphone can quickly lead to sloppiness. Find out in advance when you will be speaking and try to hold off on the alcohol until after you deliver your speech.
4. Choose your material wisely. Best men typically have embarrassing stories about the groom, particularly when it comes to ex-girlfriends, partying and days of mischief. Just remember that the groom has chosen you to represent him on his big day. Show discretion with the stories you choose to share. Gentle roasting, when tasteful, is fine, but save the inappropriate stories for the bachelor party.
5. Keep it short and sweet. As much as you want your words to make an impact, keep in mind that people want to get back to drinking, eating and dancing. Aim to make your speech 3-5 minutes max. Say what you want to say, but do so concisely.
Standing up for the groom on his wedding day should be an honor. Do the role justice by choosing your words wisely. Being diplomatic and gracious will help you make smart choices about what to include and what to leave out of the speech. Balancing humor and sentiment can go a long way in connecting with everyone in the room, and ultimately, doing right by the groom and his new bride.