When you really think about it, it is probably one of the few, if not the only moment in a wedding that isn’t scripted and has the potential to bring both laughter and tears to everyone in attendance – the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches. Talk about pressure! Having listened to a hundred or so over the past seven years of photographing weddings, I have laughed along with the crowd, as well as felt like calling for the dancing emcee like at the Apollo. Here are a few tips to help you plan a memorable and touching Best Man or Maid of Honor speech.
1 – Keep it short
While you may have waited years for this moment to either profess you love for the bride or roast the groom, everyone else is waiting too…for dinner and dancing. By keeping the speech short, not only are you making it easier on yourself, you are making it easier to be more memorable. Can you remember your favorite Shakespearean monologue? Me neither, but I can remember my favorite one-liner from any Will Ferrell movie. Three minutes is about all you need to make a great speech.
2 – Make it personal
The reason you have been chosen to give the speech is because you know the bride or groom so well, so be sure to share an experience you two have had (notice the singularity?) and make sure that it is an experience that everyone can easily related to and enjoy. “Remember when we were seven and…?” No one in the crowd does because they weren’t there. So when you tell a story, make sure that it is one that everyone can relate to.
3 – Make it funny
Nothing makes a speech more memorable than a laugh. A great story, prop, joke, or closing one-liner normally does this trick. Just make sure it is appropriate. Speaking of which…
4 – Know your crowd
This is an important one – locker room humor and Seinfeld are both funny, but that doesn’t mean that you can tell one in front of the other’s audience. Even though you and the groom may have laughed about it before, it doesn’t mean that he will be laughing about it when his boss and grandmother are in the crowd. Also, we all love an embarrassing story, but not when it puts the bride or groom in a painfully awkward situation. Be sure to leave the skeletons in the closet when giving your speech.
5 – Prepare and stick to the script
The best speeches aren’t ones that are read, but ones that are spoken. Jot down a few reminders on a note card (not your cell phone – it makes your face glow like a ghost story and a flashlight) that you can glance at so you know what to say next and stick to it.
Follow these tips and you will not only honor the bride and groom, but be a hit of the wedding.