A best man’s toast is a great time to pay tribute to the newly-wed couple with stories and anecdotes. A toast can make people laugh, cry, and touch people in a way that only heartfelt words can. However, there is a certain etiquette that applies to offering a toast. To help keep guests from cringing uncomfortably, refrain from the following:
Turning the Toast Into a Roast
A wedding toast should never be confused with a wedding roast. Toasts are a time to celebrate the couple, not berate them (even if it is in jest). Instead of pointing out the couple’s shortcomings, point out the things that make them spectacular.
Talking of Wild Oats Sown
According to Slate Magazine, the essential point of the best man’s speech is to honor the bride. This, in short, means not telling any stories that dishonor her. Avoid talking about ex-girlfriends, ex-hook ups, and any exploits that the bride may find uncomfortable (there is no reason to bring up that one time in Mexico, for instance). You should also avoid taking any digs at the dynamics of the bride and groom’s relationship. If the bride is bossy and overbearing, a wedding speech is not the time to bring it up.
Telling Off-Color Jokes
Keep wedding speeches clean and free of sexual stories, cuss words, and inappropriate tales. Even if the guests are all adults, racy subject matter can lead to discomfort in certain people, such as the bride’s father.
Being Too Drunk
Having a few drinks before making a wedding toast can give you the liquid courage you need to stand up in front of hundreds of people. Yet there is a fine line between being “wedding drunk” and being “happy 21st birthday drunk.” If you end up drinking too much alcohol, you risk slurring your words, losing your train of thought, and saying something you might regret. It’s okay to drink, but know your limits.
Making the Toast About You
A wedding toast is not about the best man, the maid of honor, or anyone other than the bride and groom. Even if you’ve known the best man since childhood and could regale the crowd all night with wild stories about your joint ventures, refrain from doing so. Telling a story from the past is perfectly fine, but keep the focus on the bride and the groom, not the groom and yourself.
Some people are quite uncomfortable with the idea of public speaking; their idea of a good wedding speech is simply saying “to the bride and groom” before quickly sitting down. While public speaking can be intimidating, a wedding toast that is too short or impersonal can be insulting. To relieve yourself of public speaking fears, rehearse what you want to say ahead of time and feel free to tell the crowd about your nervousness: this can help ease the pressure you are putting on yourself. Most of all, remember you aren’t being graded: if you stammer or stutter, no one will care.
Speaking for Too Long
A common mistake made when giving a toast is talking too long; per the Times Union, wedding toasts should be no more than five minutes long. Going over the five minute mark can leave guests annoyed and anxious. So keep it short to free everyone up to dance and imbibe—that open bar isn’t going to drink itself.
- Image source: SmartPhotoStock
Guest writer Reid Drambus has recently been asked to provide a best man speech, and has taken his preparation very seriously. Before leaving for Del Mar Escapes and the wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, this October, he hopes to have a quality speech nailed down.