Writing a Great Best Man Speech
In a couple of days, one of my longtime friends is tying the knot and as best man, I’ll be giving a best man speech, which should not only cause the audience to kneel over in laughter but also emote immeasurable joy. It’s especially a daunting task, because my friend was also my best man when I got married last July, and his speech was pretty close to what I described. I’m happy to say that I’ve written an acceptable speech over the past month or so and in the process, I’ve also learned a few pointers. As a result, I thought I’d share with you some advice on writing a great best man speech.
Tip #1 – Write for the Bride and Groom, not the Audience
I think we often associate a great best man speech with one that elicits a response from the audience. In doing so, it’s easy to lose focus on why you are giving a best man speech in the fast place. The speech is simply a way for you to honor your friend and congratulate the newlywed couple on their special day.
Tip #2 – Keep the Speech at a Moderate Length
Three to five minutes is probably a reasonable length for a best man speech. Any shorter and it’ll be hard to convey your thoughts. Any longer, and it’ll start to sound like a Shakespearean soliloquy.
Tip #3 – Inside Jokes can be Good or Bad
Some people say don’t use any inside jokes since that alienates the audience, but I think doing so violates tip #1 since you’re now catering specifically to the audience. The truth is inside jokes can be a great way to connect with your friend. On his wedding day, he’ll be swept up in a whirlwind of activity but for a few moments, he can relish that joke or story from 10 years ago. Having said that, you don’t want to overdo it, because some jokes or stories are meant to be private!
Tip #4 – The Best Man Speech is Not a Roast
I’ve heard a couple of wedding speeches where the maid of honor or best man was making constant jokes about the bride or groom throughout the speech. I’m sure they meant it in a loving way, and the jokes may even be funny. Nevertheless, I don’t think a best man speech should be comparable to a roast. It’s your best friend’s wedding day so talk up the guy (in a realistic manner) and highlight his positive traits. There are so many ways to generate laughter without putting the guy down.
Tip #5 – Think Hard About the Friendship You’ve Shared
Internalizing the friendship that you’ve shared with one another will help you remember all the special traits about your friend. It may also help provide a focus point for your best man speech. When I wrote my best man speech, for example, I thought about how we’re actually no longer best friends since I’m married, and he will soon be married as well. Furthermore, we don’t see one another that much anymore and will probably see one another even less as time passes. Nevertheless, we shaped each other tremendously during the most impressionable time of our lives and certainly had an everlasting impact on one another. I wouldn’t be the same person without him, and I feel confident saying that twenty or thirty years from now. I’m very happy that he will have this same impact on his soon-to-be wife as they become each other’s best friends.
The Main Point
I think the best man speech can be hard to write, because we have such deep relationships with our closest friends, and we can recall a variety of memories and anecdotes. If we think long and hard about what makes the friendship special, however, it should provide a good starting point. From there, follow some simple (and maybe common sense to some) guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to writing a great best man speech.
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