Congratulations! Someone you know (or are related to) has asked you to be their Best Man, or Better Man, or Groomsman-who-they?d-like-to-say-a-few-words. It?s a high honor and carries with it 1?2 key responsibilities: Planning the Bachelor Party, and Making a Speech.
?Planning a Bachelor Party,? is not the subject of this missive. Of the three I?ve planned, two have ended with the bachelor ghosting relatively early in the night on account of ?extreme hallucinations.?
I wish I was joking.
That said, I HAVE delivered four speeches for four men whom I consider brothers?one of whom is my cousin?and have developed a template for a speech that I guarantee will not feel cookie-cutter, will capture your audience, enchant the newlyweds, and endear you to all the parents and grandparents present. [See Step 3].
I developed this template because:
Other Best Man Speech ?outlines? I?ve found online tend to be lists of tips n? tricks without any solid direction or sample writing ? or they are extremely boilerplate. They drive you in the direction of delivering the kind of speech everyone claps for?but no one remembers.
Also ? I royally messed up the first best man speech I ever gave, and vowed never to embarrass myself (or a groom) like that again. It was meandering, unfocused, and kinda, sorta made my beloved cousin sound like a special kind of @$$hole (which he is, but in the most wonderful, legitimately lovable way, and I failed to convey that.)
So consider this template the bark and branches of a tree that you will populate with beautiful, colorful, metaphorical story leafs, which people will want to sit under and refer to as ?a real knee-slapper? for years to come.
BUT FIRST ? Let?s start off with setting your very singular goal.
Your job as the Best Man/Speech Giver is to bless this union ?for realsies.?
Whatever the Priest/Rabbi/Imam/Elvis/Newly-Ordained-Minister-from-the-Holy-Sacrament-of-the-Great-Spaghetti-Monster said during the wedding service was surface-level and recycled and everyone knows it. The person overseeing the ceremony rarely, if ever, truly knows the Groom or couple on a meaningful, personal level ? even if they?ve ?known Bobby since he was this tall? or ?have known Bobby?s parents for over 30 years? or ?Played a large part in naming Bobby, Bobby?? which means everything he/she/they said, while nice (and probably true) didn?t convince anyone.
No pressure, but this marriage isn?t blessed until you explain, with your own unique level of unbridled enthusiasm, that this is a marriage worthy of doing the Cha-Cha slide to.
Let?s go to work.
PRE-WRITING YOUR SPEECH
STEP 1: Start writing down the stories and interesting things you know about the Groom, and couple. (What are his interests? What are his superpowers? What are his quirky opinions, habits, dress codes, or grooming regiments? How did you meet? What are some interesting things he?s done with his life? What are some interesting things the couple has done together? Got any fun, PG-13 stories or observations?).
STEP 2: Think about any of your best stories and whether they can be used as a framing device for everything else you?re going to say. Essentially, ?create a thesis?
ex. ?[GROOM] doesn?t like to take credit for the amazing things he does for the community or the art he creates,? ?[GROOM] hates making decisions,? ?[GROOM] might be the most lucky, hardworking, over-prepared, interesting man in the world.?
Now ? every story can be tweaked (100% entertainment > 100% truth) to tie back to this theme.
WRITING YOUR SPEECH
STEP 3: Apply the following template (but with any wording that feels natural to you)
AND NOW, A DETAILED WALKTHROUGH OF HOW THIS GOES DOWN:
With papers/notecards in hand, take the microphone, blow into it lightly to test it, and put your glass of champagne down on a nearby table.
The Humble Set-Up to Get People on Your Side:
?Wow [Name of Person who Spoke Before You], that was beautiful and touching. Seriously? I have to follow that? Talk about setting me up for failure. Okay, let?s do this.?
The Rapid-fire set-up that shows how well you know the groom (and that you mean business)
?[Groom], you Star Wars-loving, Yankee-Game Attending, Wild Turkey 101 Drinking, Video Game-Beating, Rick?s Cabaret Stock-Owning?married man!? <beat> ?I?ll get to you in one second.? *
*Note?if this perfectly describes the Groom you?re writing a speech for?let?s all be friends!
Engage the Crowd & Thank the Hosts
?You did it! You made it! We all made it! And now everyone is having an amazing, wonderful time! [To the other attendees] IS EVERYONE HAVING AN AMAZING WONDERFUL TIME?!? <gratuitous applause> Good! Because before I get started, we should all note that weddings don?t just happen. They are the by-product of 10,000 decisions and micro-decisions that need to made in a very short amount of time ? so 1st things 1st ? let?s thank our hosts, the loftily wedded couple, and all the parents from both sides of the aisle. <more gratuitous applause>
Introduce Yourself, your Pedigree & Your Man-Love
?Hello! I?m [YOUR NAME], and I?ve known [GROOM] for [# of DECADES/MONTHS/YEARS/DAYS/HOURS] (alt: ?a million-billion years,? ?over half my life? ?since kindergarten?), so I know a thing or two about him ? and I was absolutely thrilled and humbled when he asked me to be his best man [or whatever] and say a few words.?
[Feel free to thank his sister for being born a girl]
?Not that he had a choice about me saying a few words, because I?ve been writing this speech on and off for [# of DECADES/ MONTHS/ YEARS/ DAYS/ HOURS COUPLE HAS BEEN DATING]. Mostly because. I love [GROOM]. And I?m betting a few others of you in the room do too.?
?I?m also betting that about a quarter of you only know [BRIDE], another quarter of you really only know [GROOM?S PARENTS] ? and the rest of you are a mixture of +1s, internationally-based 3rd Cousins, old camp friends or are simply employed here?so for those of you who don?t know him, or are just now welcoming him into your family, allow me to tell you a little bit about my friend [GROOM], and why you should love him.?
Tell that Story that will Frame the Rest of the Speech
ex. The story of how you and groom met, or something that happened back in pre-k, or on the battlefield, and which exemplifies how:? [GROOM] has always loved drawing cat pictures, teaching & being weird? [GROOM] hates making decisions and has created his own religion of ?choosing both?? [GROOM] is the luckiest, hardest-working, most eclectic/interesting person you?ve ever met
Back-Up the Thesis Story with 1-liners and Short Missives from that List You Made of Stories and Interesting Things you know about the Groom
NOTE: Avoid inside jokes and be sure to give enough context to each story that the audience can picture the event in their collective heads.
NOTE 2: This is the ?fun-and-games? portion of your speech. It?s meant to entertain the groom as much as it?s meant to entertain the audience. Give everyone what they want?but keep an eye on brevity.
NOTE 3: Don?t make shit weird. If the groom has or had issues with flatulence, was involved in amateur neutering or was ever known as ?Bobby: Destroyer of Vaginas? ? leave that stuff out of the speech.
SAMPLE 1?And every since Kindergarten,[GROOM] and my friendship has pretty much stayed the same. Lots of cat-based art, pre-social media weirdness and trivial academic pursuits-like the time we got arrested for climbing my own roof ? just to see the view, and to see if we could throw golf clubs off of it into a mud pile in my backyard. Or the time [GROOM] borrowed his father?s red Mitsubishi Eclipse to prove to me that front-wheel sports car can?t skid out, even after it rains (they can btw).?
SAMPLE 2?And the crazy thing is ? [GROOM?S] decision, not to make any decisions, but to Choose Both, tends to pay off in experiences that are richer, more fun and more memorable ? like the time he decided we should try drinking Ethanol but also make mojitos for our guests, thus creating Mojithanol. Or the when he insisted his bachelor party take place in both Orlando AND Tampa, stretching it from a 2-day guys-trip to a 6-day party marathon where on Day 5, [GROOM] considered flying home due to extreme hallucinations. In fact, the rare time that ?Choosing Both? didn?t work out was when he decide our room in college should be painted white & blue?then mixed the two paints?and we ended up living in a powder-blue room that had every visitor question if a baby boy had recently been born.?
SAMPLE 3?But it?s more than luck and hard-work! He does the stuff no one thinks to do, or thinks they can do. When every other kid from Long Island was going to sleep-away camp, [GROOM] went to skateboard camp. He, like Yoshimi, holds a black belt in karate ? and for good measure, also learned the Afro-brazillian art of capoeira. In between his career in PR and his career in filmmaking, he ran a vodka company (at 26!). The boy threw a party at the Playboy mention and Hugh Hefner asked to come! (I?ll let you finish that joke in your own head). [GROOM] didn?t just get engaged on Back to the Future day?he did so in the DeLorean from the film, at the exact time Marty arrived in 2015, with a chorus of A Capella Marty McFlies in orange vests singing an original arrangement of Huey Lewis & the News? ?The Power of Love??
Segway to a special superpower of the groom?s (that will ultimately tie the bride and groom together perfectly) and end it with a short list of things that make the groom great
NOTE: Just think of what makes the groom unique. Feel free to talk about a skill, something ridiculous, or something mushy (It?s okay to #BeBromantic)
SAMPLE 1?Then a few years ago [GROOM] found his calling, not just as an art teacher, but as a photographer. I?d come over and he?d show me endless prints of the nature, people?and cats he?d recently come across, or trekked into the woods to find. It is without arguement, that [GROOM] was then, and is now, the kind of person who can crystalize a vision of what he wants to see in the world, and enlist those around him to see it and believe in it too.?
SAMPLE 2?[GROOM] might choose ?both? in everything he does, but plenty of guys have wanted him?and only him?because [GROOM] has turned half his former roommates gay. I?m not kidding, here?s a list(?). So ? where does that leave us? On the one hand, [GROOM] drinks a lot, is indecisive and turns people gay. But on the other hand, [GROOM] cares more deeply about his friends than any other person you will ever meet. He?s passionate about his career ? having left a position in finance (making rich people richer) to pursue a higher calling in government, working for the mayor?s office, and he puts 110% of himself into the things he?s interested in. [GROOM] is good people.?
SAMPLE 3?And the reason [GROOM] has done so many amazing things, is because he has this incredible knack for seeing the ?adjacent possible??which is not the next logical idea, but rather, the next-next possible idea ? and that?s what he sets his sites on and prepares for.?
Introduce the flaw!
This is where you make is known that something wasn?t quite right in the groom?s world. Maybe he hadn?t found his muse, maybe he was emotionally off-kilter, or maybe he recently took on a seemingly impossible task.
SAMPLE 1?Truly, [GROOM] had come into his own as an artist, obsessed?in a healthy way?but definitely obsessed?with identifying the beauty in the world.?
SAMPLE 2?So when he finally decided to get his own place, and wasn?t constantly surrounded by people, something changed in [GROOM]. My wife, [INSERT NAME OF MY WIFE], noticed it first: When [BRIDE] was in town, [GROOM] would shave and cut his hair?but when [BRIDE] was away, getting her MBA at the Madrid School of Economics?[GROOM?S] Jewpuff would grow by inches, and then feet, into the air, while simultaneously, his beard would sink and reach for his chest. HIS HAIR LITERALLY BECAME A BAROMETER OF HIS EMOTIONAL HEALTH.?
SAMPLE 3?Now you might be wondering?how could someone who works so hard, and prepares so much?have decided just 4-weeks ago?that he should get married?tonight.?
Introduce the Solution to the flaw (the bride!) with a short parable about the first time you realized Groom loved Bride
SAMPLE 1?Then one day, while showing me MORE photos he?d taken (and won awards for), something interesting happened. [GROOM] was saying ?This is Norma the cat at the window sill. This is Norma under the couch. This is Norma and my uncle Mark. This is Norma, this is norma, this is Norma ? oh! This is [BRIDE], that girl I told you about, with Norma. This is [BRIDE] without Norma, this is [BRIDE], this is [BRIDE], this is [BRIDE]?? [GROOM] had obviously been touched?so to speak?by a new muse.
Ah the irony that you, the boy without a Facebook account, Twitter handle, Instagram, Tumblr blog or Pinterest board ? would find the girl who heads up social media for one of largest ad agencies in the world. Someone who has made her career on the medium known mostly for cat videos??
SAMPLE 2?When [BRIDE] was away, [GROOM] didn?t choose himself?he let himself go and chose nothing. But when [BRIDE] was around, he?d clean himself up, he?d make plans weeks in advance, and he?d be noticeably healthier. Essentially, with [BRIDE] around, [GROOM] choose ?Them?
SAMPLE 3?Well?while [GROOM] has done some amazing things?[BRIDE] has also accomplished a laundry list of amazing things. [LIST OF 2?3 ?AMAZING? THINGS]. So while the question ?How could anyone plan a wedding in 4 weeks?? is a dramatic one worthy of gossip and head-shaking?the truth is, if you reframe the question to ?How could [GROOM] & [BRIDE] plan a wedding in 4 weeks?? then the whole discussion becomes much less interesting, because [GROOM] & [BRIDE] can do anything if they do it together. That, is the Power of Love!?
Show the audience you love the bride too by talking directly to her
NOTE: If you ever slept with the Bride, don?t mention it here.*
?[BRIDE], you are [INSERT 3 POSITIVE ADJECTIVES] and undeniably beautiful (*don?t wink either). [Say something else about her accomplishments in life, nodding to the fact that she might actually be more impressive than Groom]?
Let everyone know you want her around because she makes the groom better
NOTE : If you don?t really want her around, or think she makes him better, well, that?s life and you?re wrong. She might not be who you thought he?d end up with, but he chose her for a myriad reasons you might not be able to even fathom?so suck it up and dig deep.
?You make [GROOM] better. [List 2?4 was she makes him better]?
Thought-Starters: ?You make him:? Healthier? More social? More likeable? Sillier? More positive? Less stressed? Up his game? Stay local more often? A better dresser? Tolerant of occasional P.D.A.
Wrap it up
?Separately you are both [INSERT 3 MORE POSITIVE ADJECTIVES], but together, you are [?a powerhouse of positive energy? ?an unmatchable batch of awesome? ?two amazing storytellers? ?super adorbz?] with a story and love that everyone here wants to be around, emulate, follow-along-with, and by this point, raise a glass to?
NOTE-TO-SELF: Go grab that glass of champagne you put down earlier
?Wishing you both a lifetime of healthy, happiness <raise your glass>?and maybe [FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF THE PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS, INSERT SUBTLE NOD THAT BABIES MIGHT BE PART OF THE PLAN]?
To BRIDE & GROOM!?
Hug the couple. Take a picture. Get ready for the Cha-Cha slide.