Wedding Speeches

For the Best Man: More Last Minute Toasting Advice

Photo by Dave Getzschman

Any last minute toasting advice?

“First let me say that your site is great.  It’s the only site I’ve visited that doesn’t give completely corny advice. So, I’m the best man in my buddy’s wedding in two days. I have the majority of my speech written, I’ve run it by a few of the groomsmen, and it’s pretty good.

However, I have two issues. One, all the funny stories I have about the groom are hilarious but completely inappropriate to tell in front of the families. Within our group of friends he is considered the “crazy” one and has done some pretty wild shit. Any ideas on how to work around that?

Second, I thought about starting off with, “H, I’m XXX, I’ve known YYY since 3rd grade, I’m so honored to be his best man. But when I look at the guys (groomsmen) he had to choose from maybe I’m not so honored. Being chosen as the best man out of this group is like….(insert joke here). I’m having trouble coming up with anything there besides completely politically incorrect stuff. Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.” -The Plunge Reader

Thank you.  You’ve just made our afternoon. Most of our reader-questions are complicated, ethically challenging, and could sort of go either way.

Your issue? Dead simple.

About your crazy groom: don’t do there. Just. Don’t. In fact, don’t even hint about that “wild shit.” That’s right, even though we’re about as smartassy as it gets, we urge you not to say something like, “We all know Josh had some pretty crazy times.” You’ll make your buddy squirm, your bride pissed, and her parents–who, probably, just bought your dinner and champagne–uncomfortable. Skip it.

Will your toast be less funny? Possibly. Remember, though, that this gala has very, very little to do with you. It’s better to give a not-so-hysterical toast then to risk Bridal Wrath.

You sound like a funny guy. So here’s our challenge to you. Needle the groom without referencing the Wild Shit. Brainstorm other stuff. Push yourself. When Steven Spielberg filmed Jaws, catastrophic problems with the actual shark-prop caused him to dramatically change the way he shot the film–he only had the actual shark for a couple of days, as opposed to the longer shoot he had planned. So he improvised. He instead filmed more of the ominous build-up, the deadly water, the human element. Constraints spawn creativity. By avoiding the low-hanging fruit of the Wild Shit, you can think more about his character, his personality, and make some jokes that actually contain  seeds of truth.

One last thing on this score–even if you are positive that you can slip in a reference that no one but your buddies will get, you might be mistaken. Consider two scenarios. You probably realize that you shouldn’t use some “code” like: “Well, we all remember the time that Josh spent $500 for an hour’s worth of the hotel’s ‘room service,’ if you know what I mean! Bada bing, bada bing!”

Bad idea, you get it. But consider… you might be tempted to do something like this. Let’s say your buddy once got a hummer in an elevator from 2 cheerleaders while a nun watched on, both shocked and curious. You might be tempted to sneak in something–in a totally unrelated section of the speech–like simply referencing “that time Josh got stuck in an elevator.”  On the surface, you’re fine. The bride’s parents won’t know what this means. In theory, only your buddies will catch this little Easter Egg.  But here’s the catch. They will BURST OUT LAUGHING, and then, later, you’ll be pressed by the bride and others what “stuck in the elevator” meant, and as you get drunker, and as your buddies get drunker, you might spill the beans.  (Plus, the bride might know about the Elevator Hummer.) And if your buddies don’t burst out laughing? Then it wasn’t that funny anyways, and the gamble wasn’t worth it.  Again. Don’t go there.

Your second question… it’s fine to rib the groomsmen, so long as you actually know and like these guys, right?  I mean, are they your friends, too? If not, you could sort of come off more prick-ish than Bradley Cooper’s character in Wedding Crashers. Assuming you all have a friendly vibe, yep, we like the way you set that up. It’ll play.

Good luck.

Many, many more tips here: The Best Man’s Big Speech.

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