Updated: Jan 2
Speeches. I would say this is the biggest unplanned moment of the wedding. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time. Why? Because you're about to hand the microphone over to your college roommate whose been drinking all night, and your grandma is there.
Jerry Seinfeld said, "Speaking in front of a crowd is the number one fear of the average person. Number two, is death! That means that if you have to be at a funeral, you'd rather be in the casket than give the eulogy".
This quote makes me laugh because every time we get close to the speeches, I can taste the fear in the air. But, like anything that can create nerves, if you're prepared, and take the advice given here, you'll be in good shape and won't have to apologize to your best friend for telling that story that may or may not be a felony...
Alright, let's do it. To tackle this topic, I asked my best friend to guest write. He's been a Wedding DJ for over 15 years in Pittsburgh PLUS, he is the one responsible for getting me into the DJ business.
He has seen hundreds of speeches and put together a list of helpful advice for those giving one.
Feel free to send this along to your speakers.
*DJ Advice: Give the speakers a good 15 minute heads up before the event. This gives them time to hit the restroom real quick, or grab a stiffer drink. You don't want to hand them a hot mic and say, "You'r up".
I'm going to hand it over to Kevin now.
Depending on your confidence as a public speaker, being given the honor of speaking at your best friend’s wedding is either a gift or a curse. You should see it as an honor, one bestowed on a very select few of us. Congratulations, you are considered the highest ranking person in the bride or grooms life. Accept the honor and run with it!
As a wedding DJ I am often one of the last people that toasters (those giving a toast) speak with before their big moment. I’ve had the pleasure of hyping a few up and calming a few down. Over my 15 years as a DJ I’ve compiled some thoughts on how to give a great speech. I feel now is as good a time as any to share this advice. We are just a month away from wedding season and many speeches are being prepared now. So let’s do this!
The toasts you give is typically the moment we all learn the most about the couple. I love the speeches, they help me get to know them better through you, so too will your audience. For half of the guests, you are responsible for introducing them to the other person, your friend.
Make them look good. Really good. Talk about what you admire most about them. It may be a surprise to them, and they’ll never forget it. Surprise them with never before spoken praise.
EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO DO WELL
I've been to hundreds of weddings and many, many concerts, plays, and musicals. One common theme: Everyone wants everyone to do their best. No one is hoping for your failure, no one wants to see your jokes not land or for you to embarrass yourself. Quite the opposite. Everyone wants the night to be perfect for the couple. Knowing that you have an audience behind you should calm some nerves.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Inside jokes are cornerstones of great friendships. We all have things that only we and our friends get, that only we can laugh for hours talking about. There are many times that we can talk about those things. During your maid of honor speech probably isn’t the best time. Inside jokes are between the two of you; That doesn’t mean you have to exclude them. But they should be limited. I have been through many toasts before hundreds of people with only two people laughing.
CONSIDER WRITING TWO SPEECHES
There should be two speeches: one you deliver at the wedding and one you give to your friend privately, maybe in a letter. My brother-in-law hand wrote a speech to me and delivered it to me before my wedding. I still have it. Thought it was a great idea and I probably would not have wanted that speech to be read aloud to family.
YOU'VE GOT THE POWER
This is your chance to publicly praise or embarrass the person who could have chosen anyone to speak. Unfortunately, I have seen everything from embarrassing stories that I guarantee the grooms mother did not want to hear, all the way to the discussion of exes (ex boyfriends to ex-spouses 😬) Remember it’s probably better to give a speech that no one remembers than a cringe worthy diatribe. There have been times that I would have easily expected that this was the last time the bride spoke with her best friend. With great power comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.
IT’S OK TO ROAST YOUR FRIEND
We all love to laugh. Many of us love to laugh at ourselves, especially when we learn about something we maybe didn’t know, or that we all know and have never heard verbalized.
She’s always late.
He hates to be wrong.
He is the worst driver.
She hates to lose at Golf.
If they have a quirk or shortcoming that will get laughs, make sure you find a poetic way to tie it in to a compliment or light hearted advice for the person they’re marrying.
Essentially, this should all tie in to their wedding.
DON'T WRITE IT DURING DINNER
Do not procrastinate too long on this. Many additions can be added as you approach the big day. But, you absolutely want to have something started as soon as possible. A theme. An Idea. A general understanding of what you want to say. Do speeches at the last minute sometimes work out sometimes? Yes. Would I want to take THAT chance? No. The best advice on this is to open a ‘note’ in your phone right now entitled ‘speech’. Start a list of possible topics, anecdotes, or themes.Continue adding to this list. About a week from the wedding start writing the speech. Rehearse a few days before the wedding. Speak it into the recorder in your phone. Play it back. Do it again.
You’re going to do very, very well. Make them look good and you’ll look good.
Don’t google best man speeches and then copy the first joke you see….we have all heard that one.
Best of luck!