Photo Credit: Flickr
Today’s helpful guest post about how to write a best man speech comes to us from David Leonhardt. David runs The Happy Guy Marketing, which is a team of ghostwriters who write books, blogs, press releases, screenplays, articles, reports…and of course, wedding speeches! Enjoy:
While the bride and her entourage are busy with dresses and flowers and food and venues, the Best Man is often left wondering what he is supposed to do. He knows he’s supposed to make a speech, but what should he say? No problem. Every year I rescue a few Best Men who need help with their speeches. Best man speeches are among my favorite writing projects, and I have a few tips to help you write yours.
First, make it personal. It should be heartfelt. It should speak to the groom and his bride. You should truly own your Best Man speech. One of the reasons so many nervous Best Men turn to us to ghostwrite their speeches is because they don’t want to just copy a canned speech full of one-liners they find floating around Cyberspace.
Read the full post after the cut!
Second, make it humorous. This is not a time to preach or impress. People are in a celebratory mood. They want to be entertained. They want to laugh. They want to party. Make it short. Five minutes is long for a Best Man speech – not too long, but consider that your upper limit.
The first thing I do when I write a Best Man speech is ask questions. You can ask yourself the same questions to help organize your information. That is why I am sharing my list of questions right here. But… shhh… don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret.
Photo Credit: Flickr
10 questions for the Best Man
- How do you know the groom? This is the first and most important question. The groom chose you because he knows you, he loves you, and he trusts you. You have shared experiences that go all the way back to… when? What event? What time? The entire premise of your speech is based on your relationship with the groom.
- How well do you know the groom’s family? Since the groom’s family will all be there, and a wedding is to a great degree a family affair, you really should try to integrate the family into the speech. The family needn’t overshadow the rest of the speech, but it’s a good idea not to leave them out.
- How well do you know the bride? Her family? Since the whole point of a wedding is to bring together the groom and the bride, you ideally want to work the bride, and perhaps her family, into the speech. If you have known her for a while, she really should get more than just a passing mention. Mentioning the humorous and impressive things that the bride and groom have already done together makes for the kind of Best Man speech that people enjoy.
- Are there other people you really should mention in the speech? Sometimes there are specific people who would be deeply offended to be left out, such as perhaps somebody who was instrumental in bringing the couple together, another man who was a third amigo with you and the groom, or a rich uncle who is always trying to decide which of his relations gets the private island in the Mediterranean. So your speech is both about who you want to include and who you don’t want slighted by omitting them.Photo Credit: Flickr
- What personal anecdotes do you really want to mention? Sit back and reminisce about the good times together. It’s the anecdotes that often form the bulk of a Best Man speech – little stories that give the audience insights into the groom and his exploits, the funny side, the touching side, the impressive side.
- How is the groom’s life about to change? When you get married, you might be making more than just a change of Facebook status. Sometimes there is more than just the marriage happening. If a baby is on the way, or the couple plans to move to another town, you will probably want to refer to those events. Your Best Man speech is an ode to the past, but also a toast to the future of the happy couple together.
- Are there any cultural or family sensitivities you should avoid? Yes, please ask. You might know the groom very well, but do you know his whole family? And his brides’? Cultural issues don’t factor into every weddings, but they do in some. Typically they appear if a branch of a family is deeply religious – or one of the families is deeply religious – or when it is a cross-cultural marriage. You might discover similar issues if you wish to mention the black sheep of the family, or if somebody is particularly sensitive about something.
- What personal advice do you wish to share with the couple? For whatever reason, weddings seem to give people license to throw around advice like a frog in a blender. Don’t miss out on the blending. Perhaps there is a lesson from your own marriage or some other inspiration to share with the couple. Just remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in the fullness of time.Photo Credit: Flickr
- What is your comfort level with humor? What style of humor? This is something to think about before you start to write. Best Man speeches usually have a lighter side to them, so think about whether you are more comfortable with self-depreciating, dry or some other kind of humor.
- Anything else I should know? Here is the big catch-all that I always ask, and you might as well ask yourself…and the groom… and the bride. Go ahead and show that you care by seeking their input.
And you are on your way…
So there you have it. Ten questions I ask of the Best Man before writing his speech; ten questions you can ask yourself before planning a Best man speech. You can always string together some canned one liners by trolling the Internet, but it’s much better to write a custom best man speech, just right for yourself, just right for the happy couple, just right for the occasion. You can do it yourself, or I can help. I have used the same principle to write Maid of Honour speeches, as well as speeches for the father or the bride or groom. So far, I have not been asked to write any Flower Girl speeches, bur who knows what the future may hold?
Thanks David, that’s great advice! Please visit his website for more information about The Happy Guy Marketing.
Do you have any questions or comments for David? Add them to the comments below!