Questions about the Best Man's Toast

I have a friend who was recently asked to participate in a wedding, playing the part of Best Man. Thing is, he’s never done this before. And (duh) neither have I. I’d like to give him some kickass advice so he can write the best speech possible, but I honestly have no idea what to tell him. So I turn to you, fair Dopers, so that you might share your great wisdom with me. Or something.

Some questions he has:

  1. How do you start something like this? Yeah, so you tap the champagne flute or whatever, but what do you say?

  2. Is the toast directed at the groom, or is it for the groom and the bride?

  3. Little jokes are okay, right? You can pick on the groom and stuff in the speech, can’t you?

  4. How long is too long? How many paragraphs should he be expected to write?

  5. Is he supposed to write a copy of the speech for the couple to keep with their other wedding stuff?

Any ideas would be great. If you were a Best Man, share your speech. I won’t steal it, I swear. It’ll only be used for rough ideas. Thanks in advance and all that.

The best man does more than just give the speech. Typically, he runs the bachelor party as well. Making all the plans etc…etc… and he most likely knows the groom well enough to know what he will want to do.

As for the speech. Basically, anything is Ok as long as you are not obnoxious, disrespectful, and too personal in the speech.

Basically, little anecdotes, about things maybe others wouldn’t know about the groom. Why he’s such a good guy, why SHE is a lucky woman. Things like that tend to go over really well. My best man really gave me a doozy. He had a wonderful speech from anecdotes about our child hood, why I was such a good fit for my wife, how proud he was that I had got as far in life that I had, the moment he knew that SHE was the right one for me, because he saw THE CHANGE in my behavior…:slight_smile: things like that.

  1. “In all the (time, years, ages) that I’ve known (Groom)…” Do not lead off with a joke (see #3).

  2. At both. You ignore a Bride at your peril.

  3. Do not make fun of the Groom unless you are Hugh Grant, or the Bride has OK’d it. You piss off a Bride at your peril.

  4. Two minutes. And that’s IF he’s Hugh Grant. Mortals should keep it down to one. Some should make it ten seconds.

  5. It’s not a rule, but if it’s really a nice speech, it would be a nice gesture. Most “best man’s toasts” are better forgotten, however.

Keep it short, use only safe jokes, say something exceedingly complimentary about the bride (gallant, and NOT about how sexy she is), and end it with something sappy about life together.

A really cute best man speech at a wedding I attended a couple of years ago involved the groom’s former roommate giving the bride advice for her future life with the groom. I think the funniest part was when the best man gave the bride a pair of “dirty socks.” I think he said something to the effect of, “If he’s ever in a bad mood, just leave them on the floor, or on the couch, or wherever. That’s where he likes them.”
Being a woman, I’ve never given a “best man” speech; however, I have given a couple of “matron of honor” speeches. Whatever you do, please prepare! There’s nothing worse than a best man who stands up and doesn’t really have anything to say. Put your toast on note cards and keep them in your pocket just in case. Chances are you won’t need them, but it’s nice to know they’re there. And please keep the drinking to a minimum beforehand. I know you’ll be nervous, but if you drink too much, you’re going to sound like a moron.
In both of my matron of honor speeches, I used a couple of fun anecdotes about the bride and groom. For one, I wrote a blessing modeled after some of the traditional blessings (Irish, Apache, etc.). I also wrote it in their wedding card so they’d have a copy of it. I must say it was kinda sappy. My second speech was more light-hearted. It all depends on the couple, really.
Good luck! I’m sure you’ll do just fine!

The beginnings of a great speech usually start like this:

"True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend… "

But I guess its argueable… :wink:

I suppose now would be a good time to mention that this is a fairly informal affair. I don’t know if that makes a difference or not but there it is. Oh, and the Best Man has known the groom for like a year and a half, so no childhood anecdotes. But thanks for the ideas so far. :slight_smile:

I was honored to be the best man for a good friend several years back (and they just became parents of twins yesterday! woo-hoo! go them!) and my speech went something like:

“I’ve been thinking recently, in preparation for this toast, about what it is that makes (the groom) such a great guy. So I asked a bunch of people, including his lovely bride, his parents, and many of his friends. I got a wide range of responses, ranging from… (insert a variety of things here, some serious, some humorous). But I still hadn’t settled on what to say in this toast until I saw (his bride) walking down the aisle with the biggest, happiest smile I’ve ever seen, and I knew what will make (the groom) a great husband… he makes (the bride) happy.”

Or words to that effect.

Keep it short, involve the family if possible.

Anecdotal stories that are not offensive work well: I knew _______ since the 3rd grade. Back then he never met a crayon he couldn’t eat. He should be easy to feed.

After a brief speech you can then give a toast.

The last toast I made went something like this:

From the past and present generations of ____________ (family name of the bride and groom) I give you the present and future generations of ___________ announce the bride and groom.

Hopefully you will know a fair number of the people there, and ‘your’ groom and bride can let you know what to expect in the way of easily-offended elderly relatives. The best best-man speech I’ve seen involved a slideshow presentation of photographs depicting his ‘development’, from womb through to stag night. Befriend his parents to get some juicy stories if necessary :wink:

Another trick that works well is hinting at stories that are too risque to be spoken in the toast - gives everyone something to talk about afterwards. As long as they’re only risque, and not libellous :smiley:

BTW, the traditionaly actual toast, towards the end of the speech, is to the bride, but check beforehand as they may prefer it to be to the both of them. (The groom toasts the bridesmaids, and the father-of-the-bride gives a general toast and thanks to everyone)

Whatever he does, run it by the couple first. My MOH was about to give a toast on how I joked about my husband seeming like he was in the closet. It’s a running joke between me and him and a few friends, but not something I cared to share with his grandmother or great aunt.

Instead she ended up telling the story of how I “stalked” the mailman when he had gone to boot camp and was writing to me every week. She ended it with saying that I was either crazy or in love. DO NOT call the bride crazy. Thank goodness my family gave a kick ass toast to help me forget that.

The BM was his oldest brother, 10 year age gap between them. He didn’t really know me that well. He said a few nice words, but honestly I don’t remember them. And the wedding was only a few weeks ago.

I’d advise him to talk to the other people in the wedding party. Maybe they can be a bit more insightful on the bride and groom, either as a couple or individuals.

These speeches can be funny or serious, depending on the tone of the wedding, the sense of humor of the participants, etc.

I have two ironclad pieces of advice for the best man, however:

(1) Five minutes before it’s time to go in and do the ceremony, make the groom go empty his bladder. He may say he doesn’t have to; make him go anyway. He’ll thank you later.

(2) No matter what kind of speech you end up giving, prepare it ahead of time. Under no circumstances should you decide to get up there and wing it. Trust me on this one; I’m still living down an incident I’d like to forget.

Congratulations to your friend; being asked to be the best man at someone’s wedding is just about the highest compliment a friend can receive.