This past weekend, when I wasn’t doing this, I was busy standing up in one of my best friend’s weddings. I wasn’t the best man, so I had a more casual role and probably indulged in a couple too many cocktails throughout the wedding day. Okay, okay, I drank way too much and had mad Sunday Scaries up until about yesterday, but that’s besides the point. What I’m trying to say is that I got to be a firsthand silent observer of the responsibilities of being the best man in a wedding that I hadn’t seen before. Luckily, the dude I got to watch crushed it and really set me up for success for when I’m a best man in June 2016.
Let’s face it: unless you’re a dork with no friends or personality, you’re probably going to have to stand up at one of your boy’s weddings at some point. And with great friends comes great responsibility, such as holding the rings, organizing the bachelor party, and (most frighteningly) making the best man speech.
It’s well documented that people fear public speaking as much (or more) than they fear heights, spiders, needles, flying, and pretty much everything else in the world. But at the end of the day, making a best man speech shouldn’t strike the fear of god into you. After all, you’re sitting in front of a group of family and friends as opposed to a crowd of complete strangers, so you simply need to stick to the tried and true principles of crushing it.
HAVE SOME CHILL.
Do you really want to be the dude on YouTube who organized a flashmob for his friends? Is it really necessary that you perform that song you’ve been writing since they got engaged? I’ll answer that for you: no, it isn’t. Being a YouTube sensation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t be a dick and steal his thunder. Make it about him and not you.
No one wants to see fire coming out of your tux sleeves or you riding in on a white horse with “Final Countdown” blasting as glitter streams down from the ceiling.
Actually, maybe I do, but let’s save that for the bachelor party.
PROPER PREPARATION PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.
Write your speech down and practice the hell out of it. When you’re practicing, be mindful of your pace because even when you think you’re talking too slow, you’re probably talking way too fucking fast. When I took a speech class in college, my main issues were talking too fast and saying “um” too much. Other than that, I dominated because all I’d do is practice in front of my roommate until he knew the speech better than I did.
Furthermore, I’m not telling you to scream, but I’m also not telling you to bumble and soft-talk through this speech. Do you want everyone to walk away from the reception wondering who the square was that mumbled through his speech for five minutes? No, but you also don’t want to make everyone feel like they’re Miles Teller in Whiplash by getting yelled at by J.K. Simmons the entire damn time. If you need to have one of your boys stand in the back of the room and give you hand signals regarding the appropriateness of your volume, then do it. Wouldn’t you rather admit you need a little help, or would you rather look like a fuck-up on the biggest day of your best friend’s life?
DRINK, BUT DON’T GET DRUNK.
If you’re rocking some nerves and you’re not drinking for fear of getting too drunk, you’re going to be the uptight sober dude who comes off like a square. Newsflash, Walter Cronkite: everyone else is drinking. If you’re a couple deep, no one’s going to notice. We’re not at the church anymore.
Just last week I saw a guy conduct the ceremony after drinking a monstrous Jack-rocks. And he knocked it out of the park. If he can do that over the span of forty minutes, you can take down a 500-word speech after a couple of seasonal brews. Hell, you’ll probably make a couple minor mistakes and you’ll come off way more endearing than you normally do. Just don’t get fucked up and drunk cry — no one wants to see that.
KNOW WHEN TO STFU.
I went to a wedding a couple years ago where not only the best man gave a speech, but all the groomsmen made speeches as well. These guys were all from south of the Mason-Dixon, so they all spoke with a slow, southern drawl. And sure, their speeches were nice and everything, but by the end of the 25 minutes of listening, half the attendees were were migrating to the beer-and-wine-only bar with the intention slamming glasses of sauvignon blanc to forget what they just saw.
Remember that friend we’re hiring to give you volume signals? Let’s also give him a Chappelle’s Show “Wrap It Up” Box. We’re not roasting Justin Bieber here, we’re at a country club and the dancefloor is calling everyone’s name. Let’s move it along.
RESTRICT YOUR CANDOR.
You know when you bring a new girl around your friends for the first time and one of them brings up your ex-girlfriend or calls her by the wrong name? Now imagine that happening in front of a room of 150+ people when all eyes are on you. You don’t want the new couple to go back to their room after the reception only to have your buddy fielding questions about whether or not he finger-blasted that stripper at the bachelor party.
Once your best friend gets engaged, just consider all of his ex-girlfriends, flings, and middle-of-the-bar-make-outs dead. After all, his grandma is probably at the ceremony and she doesn’t want to hear about her grandson having more than one partner. As far as she knows, he’s still a virgin. Keep it that way.
TELL THE BRIDE HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE LOOKS.
And then toss a wink at the maid of honor..
Image via Shutterstock