THE BEST MAN TOAST!!!
So here you are after JUST being asked by one of your dearest friends to be the best man at his wedding. Sweet! Bro! You guys have done everything together. You are practically brothers. You met in kindergarten and have been inseparable ever since.
Oh Shoot! Speech. Public Speaking? Uhhh… You want to say all the right things and make an amazing impression. You also have your own sense of humor that mostly the Groom and a few other guests might get (but probably not everyone… hey! At least you are aware… ). So how do you turn your life experiences, fun times, and life journey into a speech that will be remembered? One that will make people genuinely laugh without sounding like a hack wanna be comedian at an open mic night…
The good news is that writing a great toast will not be too difficult once you learn how. You will need to access your creativity and put some actual time into it. However, you also don’t have to do it alone. One of the best ways to write a great toast is to work with other close friends who know the Groom. Starting the writing process in a team format will help inspire you. Once you have gathered enough ideas you can then settle down and write your own thoughts on your own. The most important rule in toast writing…. DON’T WING IT! You may think you are the funniest person in the room, but chances are you’re not. (and stage fright is a real thing… the number one cure for stage fright? ULTRA preparedness)
Like any great speech you will need to apply the same principles to the toast. The toast should have a logical flow to it but at the same time, sound like you JUST thought of it. It needs a strong attention getting beginning, important points in the middle, and great finale. Based on your style you can decide to be entirely from the heart or intermittenly sprinkle in humorous points throughout. Whatever you do, DO NOT wait until the week of the wedding to begin preparing the toast. It may prove difficult to truly do the Bride and Groom justice and share your inner most thoughts with them if you are rushed when you write it. A rushed prep time will show in the end product.
To springboard your thinking, it sometimes helps to get a photograph of the bride and groom. If you have known the groom for a long time go through a bunch of pictures of the two of you. Follow these steps:
- Notice the key memories that come up when you look at the pictures
- What stories does it make you remember?
- What story in particular or string of stories would be funny to share with a mixed audience?
- What is the one message in one sentence that you want them and the audience to know about the the groom?
- In reference to the bride; when did the groom meet her? What did he tell you about her? (keep it G-rated)
- How was it the groom chose you to be his best man? Did he tell you? How did you feel when he asked you?
Get Started Now that you have gathered some ideas, stories, and insights and begin writing. You don’t have to do it all at once (hence why giving yourself a lot of time to write it will be a good idea!). You can even start by writing the key ideas or phrases on index cards or a notebook. Remember your toast will have a beginning, middle, and an end.
The beginning of the toast will be your intro. Make certain to take into account the bride and groom’s style and even the mood of the reception. You can open formally or informally but ultimately choose a way that will get the audience to perk up and pay attention. You might do this by inserting a good humor joke, question, or quote about marriage. Don’t be afraid to steal other people’s hilarity.
People will want to know who you are, so make sure to state your name (if the MC does not do it ahead of time). Let the audience know how you know the groom and even how he asked you to be the best man. You can share a funny story here about your reaction to his request. Here is an example:
“Good evening everyone my name is Kenny Davis, and I am Michael Jordan’s best man and best friend for the last 59 years. I know we look young but being Air Jordan’s right hand man has aged me by 29 years easy. When he asked me to be his best man I was kind of shocked and very confused. He has been in all my English classes in high school and he knows I can’t write or speak publicly, and then it struck me that he was obviously STILL upset about buzzing his eyebrows in 7th grade.”
As you can see the goal with the beginning of the toast is to establish who you are and something interesting about how you came to be the best man. The audience will want to know who you are in order to establish a context for the jokes and stories that follow. The goal above ALL goals with the opening…. ? Get Their Attention! No one remembers a speech they aren’t listening to.
Once you established who you are and how you came to this role, now share some great stories and jokes about the bride and groom. A very important thing to remember here is that not everyone will ‘get’ an inside joke. If you have to follow the joke with “you had to be there” it will lose the effect. Tell a story or joke that helps to illustrate some things about the bride or groom (or both) that shares more information about who they are and why they are perfect for each other.
A rule of thumb here is to never mention an ex-partner, husband, or wife. Stay clear from these areas although they would provide laughs (maybe in private) it may be at the expense of the bride and groom and this would be humiliating. Awkward silence and crickets is all you will hear.
If you spoke from the heart and inserted appropriate jokes and stories, the bride and groom will be moved. The audience will applaud you for being thoughtful in your comments. and greatly appreciate your tact. Lastly, as you are drawing to a close either ask everyone to raise their glass or you raise yours and they will follow. Ask them to join you in a toast to the happy couple. A classy way to end is with a meaningful quote that is easy to remember.
Test Your Toast
Don’t be shy, share your toast with a friend. Even better share it with someone who does not know the bride and groom. This will test the logical flow of the toast as well as the stories and jokes. You want to convey your emotions but in a very sincere manner. Your toast is just the tool that will allow you to help celebrate the love you and everyone else feels for the bride and groom. Cheers!