I was in the wedding party for my best guy friend's wedding, and I was asked to make a speech. Being a writer and an attention fiend, I jumped at the chance to express my love for my man of honor, and, well, I killed it. There were jokes and laughs, sappy moments, and all that lovey-dovey stuff.
But what if you've been asked to make a wedding speech and you have stage fright, or are getting writer's block, or are having nightmares about the experience — you know, the one where you're standing in front of the crowd wearing no pants — and kind of want to back out?
Well, grab a drink, calm down, and read this advice on how to craft a great speech. The lessons here will help you with best man speeches and wedding toasts both!
How to structure and outline your wedding speech
- Introduce yourself: “Hello, I'm Guadalupe's brother.” “Hi, I'm Morgan's best friend.” Give your fellow wedding guests some context about who you are and how you relate to the newlyweds. This is your welcome.
- Tell some entertaining anecdotes about your person: “I met Morgan in college after getting locked out of my dorm room wearing nothing but a Superman cape.” “Guadalupe and I bonded over underwater basket weaving, and I saved her life during a particularly dangerous session.”
- Talk about them as a couple: “Until Guadalupe came along, we all thought Morgan was going to die alone and get eaten by cats.” “When Guadalupe contracted Avian Bird Flu from her horrible ornithologist ex, we thought she'd never let herself love again. It wasn't until these two met each other by bonding over their mutual love of cats and hatred of birds that they really came alive.”
- Toast: “Let's raise our glasses and call out the Morgan-Guadalupe family motto “‘All birds must die!'” This can be a nice moment to raise a glass of champagne to the hosts of the wedding too — the venue, the family members paying, etc. A little gratitude goes a long way.
What NOT to do with your wedding speech
- DON'T be hammered. Trust us, your humor won't translate if you're slurring.
- DON'T tell embarrassing stories. Funny stories are great, but this is a wedding reception — NOT a bachelor party roast. This is their big day! Imagine telling the story one-on-one to the mother of the bride … if you wouldn't mention the story one-on-one, leave it out of your speech.
Wedding day speech examples
Here's the speech I wrote for my best guy friend's wedding celebration…
Hi. I'm Megan, and I'm Erik's best girl friend. In fact, Erik was the Man of Honor at my wedding ceremony and he made an amazing speech. So I'm gonna try to beat him with this one…
I first met Erik his freshman year of college. I was visiting a high school friend on campus and he told me, “You have GOT to meet my friend Erik. You're gonna love this guy.” He was right. I immediately LOVED Erik.
But it wasn't until a year later that Erik and I became the very best of friends. Erik was going through a rough breakup at the same time as I was. We clung to each other, mostly because we were such miserable wrecks, no one else wanted to hang out with us anymore.
In order to get through that rough patch we made a pact to call each other instead of calling our exes, and possibly ending up right back in terrible relationships. And, it should be obvious by the fact that we're all here today, it worked! We survived that break up together.
And over a decade later, we survived many more “adventures” together. We survived more breakups, we survived college, and then graduation. We've gotten lost on the streets of San Francisco — just the two of us and an upright bass crammed into a Mini Cooper. He kicked ass at being the my man of honor. And we've even stared down the face of death together when we got held up at gun-point on his birthday.
And after all those adventures, there's one thing I know about Erik — he's the Frodo to my Sam in this perilous journey through Mordor that we call life.
The thing is… when you're a girl, and your best friend is a dude, you always worry about the women they date. Will they like me? Will you like them? Will our close relationship make them feel threatened? And pretty much the answers were always: No. No. And yes.
Now, it's all great and well that Kimmy loves Erik, whoo hoo and all that. But that Kimmy loves ME? Holy shit, am I a lucky girl.
I remember back when Erik and Kimmy first started hanging out with each other. Erik could NOT stop talking about Kimmy. “Dude, she's so hot. Dude, she's so cool. Dude, she's so funny. Do you think she'd go out with me? Do you think you could talk to her?” On and on. Until I finally did talk to her.
Kimmy expressed that she did like Erik, she thought he was cute and funny and charming, but… he was just too short for her and that was that. I remember that the time thinking that it was going to be really funny when I eventually make her eat those words. How's it taste, Kimmy?
Erik, you will always be the Frodo to my Sam. But if I can't be there to help you cross the fires of Mount Doom, there's no one else I'd want by your side more than Kimmy. I love the both of you. I love the both of you together. I love how the both of you love each other.
And I can't wait to be there to watch and support the journey you too are going to continue to take together. So I'd ask you all to raise your glass in honor of the happy couple — two of the most wonderful adventure partners in the world.
To Kimmy and Erik: Party forever!
Alternatives to giving a speech
Are you not great at public speaking, but awesome at other things? Utilize those other talents! You could easily substitute the speech all together for a heart-felt performance. For example…
- My man of honor Erik, who is a professional musician, played a song for us.
- Perhaps comedy is more your style. Write your speech in the form of a roast! (Just make sure the couple are ready for it.)
- Are you a wiz at video editing or photography? Throw together a multi-media experience to be projected during the reception.
In essence: Let your particular talents do your talking.
Your turn! What is your best speech-writing advice? And please feel free to leave your own speeches as inspiration! We'd love examples of a groom's speech, too!