Speech Etiquette

August 19

The Best Man’s Toast: Tips from a Groomsman

We’ve decided it’s time to show a little love for the guys. Each month, we’ll share tips and stories from real-life groomsmen about what it’s like to be part of a friend’s wedding. So listen up groomsmen-to-be, this is for you!

So you’re the best man. You’ve planned a bacchanalia of a bachelor party that was just short of an appearance by Dionysus himself. You’ve allowed nary a minute go by without double-checking (and triple-checking) your pocket to ensure that ring is still present. You’ve posed in so many photographs that the old adage about your facial expressions getting “stuck” is starting to hold some water.

But you have one last responsibility before you can let loose and do something that would make a viable attempt at public office a distant memory: the best man’s toast.

Prepare. More than an hour before the reception.

Start writing your speech in the week leading up to the wedding—a good idea would be to keep it as a draft email and make little edits as they come to mind.

Keep it simple. If you are not routinely compared to Oscar Wilde leave the wit and humor out—it will be unnatural and contrived. Bawdy remarks are best suited for the bachelor party and any overly esoteric inside jokes should remain limited.

Once you’ve written your remarks, practice them! More than once. Out loud. Find an audience if you can. You’ll want to ensure it flows well and does not go much longer than one to two minutes.

Print out a copy of your speech and put it in your pocket—however, do not take it out when it’s time to toast the bride and groom. Deliver it from memory—your oration will be infinitely more natural and you shouldn’t stumble over your words if you’ve practiced enough.

And finally, don’t forget to drink from your own glass after the toast!


August 9

Things to Know: Speech Etiquette

There’s no better time to raise a glass and laud a favorite couple than on their wedding day, and speeches offer the perfect opportunity for loved ones to share their happiness for the newlyweds as they start their new life together. Embrace this time-honored tradition with the following tips and you’ll likely contribute to some of the most memorable moments of the weekend.

The Rehearsal Dinner

Since the rehearsal dinner is a casual get-together with close friends and family, this is the time for more informal speeches. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • After a few words from the host (usually the groom’s parents), the floor is open for speakers. This is the opportune time for bridesmaids, groomsmen and siblings, as well as anyone else who wants to speak, to seize the moment and toast the happy couple.
  • Embarrassing speeches, as hilarious as some people might find them, are bound to leave a bad taste in some guests’ mouths. Resist the urge to bring up past relationships, inside jokes, drunken anecdotes or anything else that might make people cringe. Humor is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, but make it sincere.
  • Speak from the heart! Even if you trip up your words a little, they’ll come across more genuinely if it doesn’t feel rehearsed.
  • On that note, practice a few times until it’s familiar and try to avoid reading from a note card.

The Reception

The reception is a more formal, time-sensitive setting that should be limited to traditional speeches. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The time for toasts should be decided by the bride and groom prior to the wedding. Many couples reserve the time before or after cutting the cake, while others choose to have the speeches once everyone is seated for the meal. Generally, any time when people are gathered or in their seats is ideal.
  • The couple should delegate the order of toasts well before the wedding so each person knows when to speak. Traditionally, here’s how it should go:
  1. Best man
  2. Maid of honor
  3. Groom or bride, or both together
  4. Parents (the hosting party should speak first)
  • 2-3 minutes is an appropriate time limit. Keep it short, sweet and above all, genuine.
  • Make it count! When else will you have this kind of opportunity?

Are you the maid of honor for a friend’s upcoming wedding? Get great tips on how to write the perfect speech in this guest post from Dessy Group’s Bridesmaid Blog!