Okay this is for my younger brother’s wedding… so far I know that I will be wearing a tux and that I’m supposed to make some sort of elaborate toast at the reception…but that’s about all I know. Some people have told me that it should be a long and funny speech about my brother’s life…others have told me that it should just be a really nice toast wishing the bride and groom a happy future together. Which is it? I’m not too great with speeches and I hate public speaking. I know I shouldn’t have put it off this long but… my bad. Please offer any advice on the procedures. Thank you!
Either sort of toast is acceptable. Which do you think your brother would prefer? In any event write out the toast ahead of time and practice giving it. You don’t want to screw this up. Since you’re a poor public speaker, you shouldn’t count on being able to wing it.
I might be able to wing it after a few drinks… Is there typically a microphone and a podium? What should I be doing with my hands during this speech/toast? thank you!
Traditionally the best man’s speech is funny, long, and about the groom. Assuming there is a sizable number of guests you will probably have a mic and podium. As Mr. Hand said, you definitely want to prepare. Even the three days you have should be enough, just make sure you write your speech down.
I happened to be the best man at my brothers wedding this past summer, and it was a really nerve wracking experience, so I empathize. I managed to do pretty good, and I’d like to say it was because I was prepared but really it was due to my extreme idiocy. I locked the keys to the “getaway” car in the trunk. The humourous story of how we got to the reception in the photographers two-door Civic made up the bulk of my speech. God knows what I would have said otherwise.
There are some other traditional duties of the best man, such as planning the bachelor party and just generally hanging out with the groom on the wedding day to keep him from falling apart. You also have a role to play in the ceremony but I’m sure that will be covered in the rehearsal.
Done it twice. Funny speeches are good. So are nice ones. Just make sure he is well dressed, hair is done and that he shows up on time!!! (Golfing is still acceptable morning of… but only play 9)
Make sure you hold onto the ring with your life, and make sure he says “I do” or kick him. After all if he passes out everyone just takes one step over
You’ll be fine. Be honest, be sincere, and no puke stories.
From experience I can tell you that, “Jim’s mother can look at this as losing a son or gaining a daughter…no, I’m sure she’d rather look at it as losing a son.” does not get a laugh from Jim’s mother.
Been there twice. Really, don’t sweat it. Don’t feel you have to be funny. Just be sincere, and offer best wishes to the couple. Also, you can wait a while till the reception is well under way, and everybody’s had a few.
I’m not sure why the emphasis on long speeches. The best one I ever heard was only a couple of lines long:
“[Groom’s name] and [bride’s name] are a really wonderful couple who truly deserve the happiness they will share. Their love inspires all of us to share the same kind of love with our own spouses. I wish them both the best of everything in the coming years and I hope that [bride’s name] finds that [grooms’s name] makes a better roommate than I ever did.”
(I borrowed that 29 years after I heard it to use on my brother.)
Please, if you aren’t a professional comedian with good writers don’t make the mistake of trying to be funny. Comedy is one of the hardest things to pull off, trust me.
Work up a nice, congratulatory presentation and unless you are an accomplished speaker don’t make it long. Wish them well, good luck and a happy future and let it go at that.
And when you say, “In conclusion …” mean it! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard extemporaneous speakers, who have already gone on far too long say something on the order of, “Well, to wind this up …” and then drone on for another half hour.
And practice it. I’ve always considered it disrespectful to an audience to just get up and ramble on.
Ditto on what everyone else said (be honest/sincere, wish them well, skip the off-color jokes, etc). Double-ditto for writing your toast down and practicing it out loud. Several times. In front of a friend.
Hands - most likely it’ll be mic in one hand, toast in the other, put one down to raise your glass of champagne. No mic? Great, paper in one hand, glass in the other. No mic and got your toast memorized 100% flawlessly? Glass in one hand, relax the other (stick it in your pocket, rest on podium, etc). Kind of takes care of itself.
A couple of quick public speaking tips - RELAX, smile, look at the happy couple and the party while you are speaking to them. Breathe. Remember that all you are really doing is wishing your kid brother and new sister a lot of happiness.
If you want some ideas for things to say/not say, Google on “Wedding toasts” and you’ll see some samples.
JohanDane, I strongly advise against winging it after a few drinks (I assume that you’re actually considering it, since it wouldn’t be the first time that a best man has done that). Most people don’t speak off the cuff very well, and trying to do so after a couple of drinks… You probably won’t be very happy with the results. Spend some time on writing it and practice.
There’s no hard and fast rules about the contents of a Best Man’s toast. I’ve seen speeches that are funny, touching, or a combination of the two. I’ve seen them of all lengths as well (it doesn’t have to be long). It’s OK to tease the groom a little (especially as he’s your brother), but make sure any teasing is gentle and in good fun. If you take it too far, it’s just tacky. Often times, people will include an anecdote or two about the groom, such as a funny story from their childhood if they’ve know each other that long (as you obviously have).
As others have said, the Best Man does have a few other duties. Traditionally, they throw the bachelor party, make sure that the groom gets there in time and settles him down if he gets too nervous, and is usually responsible for holding onto the rings during the ceremony until they are asked for. Also, the Maid/Matron of Honor and the Best man are the witnesses that sign the marriage license. If the reception is large enough that the bride and groom have a hard time getting around to everyone, they may seek you out as sort of a “meet and greet” substitute. On top of that, you just help out any way you can.
It’s also a lot of fun. Because you’re in the bridal party, you sit at a special table, get to eat dinner first, and generally get to enjoy the heck out of the night.
Great! thanks for all the tips and good advice… I’m glad that there are so many others on the SDMB who have been through this too. I think I will keep the speech short and sweet…maybe an anecdote or two if I can think of some good ones on the plane ride over. I also just found this great site that has hundreds of example speeches. It seems that most of the submitted speeches were done by British guys so the humor is a bit odd at times but it gives me some good ideas, here is the link:
Thanks again for all the help…I think I will be okay.
I’d second the advice about NOT winging it. Take the time to write something down. Go easy on the booze until you’ve given your speech.
Remember this is their BIG day – it’s worth putting in a little extra effort to make it as good as possible for them. A good speech will be remembered and appreciated; a bad one will be a blemish on their day. Doing all that you can to make their wedding perfect is a way of showing that you respect the couple and their commitment they are making.
Two time best man here. Neither of my toasts went well as I spoke too quickly. If you’re trying for something, don’t make it too “inside” or something that people have to think about. It’s no time to break out your Dennis Miller routine.
Go for something straightforward. And practice. And keep the groom from freaking out.
If you hold your champagne glass up in one hand while making your toast, it may help you to remember to keep it short. In cases like this, short beats long and sincere beats the heck out of funny.
Since you’re looking for advice, I’ll move this thread to IMHO.
In addition to the above duties, I was also in charge of “decorating” the getaway car during my brother’s wedding. Plus, since neither my family nor Sis-in-law’s is very organized, I was the one making trips back to the house for forgotten items (no, not the rings!) Basically, the groom is going to be freaking out, the bride is kept hidden until the ceremony, so try to help smooth out any glitches.
And I was rather proud of the finale of my toast to my brother:
“And together may you be strong enough to handle the insanity of your new in-laws”.
Both my family and the hers are rather…odd.
Yes, sincere is FAR more important than funny. A funny speech may amuse the wedding guests, but many a bride on her wedding day has NO sense of humor. If you ever want to see your brother again, keep it short and keep it sappy.
Another very important and too-often-neglected duty: Don’t let the groom get sloshed. Don’t let him do anything stupid. If you fail to abide by these rules, prepare for extra duties: cleaning up the groom’s vomit, finding him a new shirt right before he walks down the aisle…
-make sure groom and groomsmen have their tuxes and all accessories
-get groom on church on time (and preferably sober)
-take tuxes back
-I’m sure there’s more
As far as the speech keep it short. Start by thanking everyone for sharing this beautiful day with the bride and groom blah…blah… Then tell a very short story about your brother taken care of something when he was little, like a stray cat or bird falling out of tree, or something. And end by transfer that care or act of kindness to his new family.