Before You Begin
Start off by writing down thoughts freely about the bride and groom and your relationship to them.
- How do you know them?
- Why did they choose you as best man?
- How would you describe each of them? What are the first five adjectives that come to mind?
- What was the groom like before he met the bride? How has he changed knowing her?
- How did they meet? How did the groom tell you about her?
- If you are married, you may wish to think about marriage advice you've received or have learned.
- Are there any particularly amusing anecdotes that illustrate who the bride and/or groom is?
- Read through this gallery of sample classic wedding toasts and highlight any that seem particularly appropriate to you.
Start off by introducing yourself, as not everyone in the room will know who you are. You might say "Excuse me everyone, if I could have your attention for a moment. I'd like to take a few moments to say a few words about our bride and groom. I'm John Doe, Patrick's best man and longtime good friend (or brother, son, etc.)" To get people's attention, you might insert a quick joke here or a quote about marriage. Before you get too far into your speech, you should thank the people hosting, traditionally the parents of the bride. If the bride and groom are paying for the wedding themselves, simply say, "We're all delighted to be here today on this joyous occasion."
This is where the notes you wrote down before will really come in handy. Tell a funny story about the bride and/or groom (note I said "funny" not humiliating!), give your thoughts on love and marriage, tell the story of how they met, or talk about how you've seen them change through their relationship. While you may know the groom better, try to make your toast balanced, speaking about each of them. Try not to talk too long as nobody wants to hear you ramble, but do give some interesting details. At all costs, avoid ex-girlfriend stories and keep it rated PG for kids and grandmothers in the room! Most of all, if you are sincere about what you are saying, and your words come from the heart, it's hard to go wrong.
It's often good to wrap up your toast with a wish, traditional toast, or blessing for the bride and groom. Raise your glass with a resounding congratulations, cheers, l'chaim or salud, and don't forget to drink to your own toast!
I suggest writing your toast down on a notecard or two (remember, I said to keep it brief!) and practicing it a few times so that you're not reading straight from the card. You may also wish to run your toast by a trusted friend who can give you some feedback.
Now it's time to relax, enjoy the wedding, and support your friends. A few tips on delivering that toast:
Remember, even though you're nervous, to speak loudly and clearly.Hopefully you'll have a microphone, but even if you do you'll need to make sure to enunciate. Nothing worse than listening to five minutes of mumbling nonsense.
Don't drink too much before you give your speech. A drink or two might help loosen you up, but more than that and you'll just look like a fool.
Don't read straight from the card. These are supposed to be heart-felt words, not a scripted response. It's better to paraphrase what you've written, and get the general sentiment across. Of course, you can have your notes handy, just remember to make eye-contact with the people you are speaking to.
Didn't your mother always tell you to stand up straight? That goes twice when toasting.
If you lose your notes, or just choke up there, there's nothing wrong with a simple "Congratulations, (bride's name and groom's name) I'm looking forward to the day when we're all together again celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary. Cheers!" or a favorite wedding toast.
Next, read The Dos and Don'ts of Giving a Best Man Speech