A Guide to the Wedding Speech
Guiding you through the groomsmen wedding speechThe groomsmen toast is dreaded by most men. The goal is to have a speech that fits in nicely with the wedding you're attending. You don't want a memorable speech, because you'll only be remembered if you screw it up.
Don't freak out quite yet. No one expects you to make this wedding by dishing out an incredible speech. That said, you sure as heck can 'break' this wedding by delivering up a turd for a speech. Remember to be cool, you had to do something good to be a groomsmen. A good start is avoiding the lure of an open bar and staying off the topic of the bride's unusual feet.
Still, if you'd prefer to go one step above complete bedlam, we've got a few tried and true pointers to keep in mind if you're groomsmen duties include a toast. Follow these tips to avoid some of the most common pitfalls that groomsmen face when they're asked to speak at a wedding.
- Be brief. Everyone loves a speech that gets to the point. If it's too long to memorize, it's okay to put your speech on notecards for reference, but try not to read directly from your notes. It looks tacky. That said, the best groomsmen speeches are outlined in advance. Keep this in mind, and stay curt. If you're audience is dozing off, you've taken too long.
- Even if you're planning to do the rest of your speech ad-lib (not recommended), have a few opening lines memorized before you stand up to speak. This should include a brief introduction of who you are and how you know the bride and groom. Focus on a theme and you'll be able to transition from that to an amusing anecdote and then your main point. Do not hunch over. You're doing it wrong if your posture looks like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Focus on standing tall, and you'll be better off.
- Do not loosen up with booze. Using alcohol to ease your nerves is a one way ticket to an enormous mistake. Nothing terrifies a bride more than a hammed groomsman with a microphone. Nothing.
- Balance it out. The entire toast can't be about the groom. Even if you barely know the bride, create the illusion you do by talking about how the groom improved by being with such an incredible woman. Don't agree with that last statement? Make something up. Safe topics include his eating habits, the way he dresses, his apartment, or skipping the big playoff game to take care of her when she had the flu.
- Do not go beyond a PG rating. And we mean it. Your speech needs to be cleaner than Mr.Clean's shiny bald dust-free head. Just because the little kids can't spell out profanities doesn't mean the 90-year old grandma in the front row can't either. Don't incite nanny.
- Engage your audience. The best way to do this is by gesturing to the bride and groom whenever you mention them. Try to make eye contact by glancing casually from left to right as you speak. It'll make the crowd feel more included, and they'll be more engaged as a result. Also, be aware of how fast you're speaking. Since you're not Tony Robins, you'll likely be nervous. Nervousness makes us all tend to talk too quickly. Remember this, and focus on slowing down.
- Get personal. As a groomsman, you've got a bundle of great stories to pick from. So find the best ones while avoiding all the caveats mentioned above. Do not mention the groom's ex'. Even if you're trying to draw a nice contrast, it's never a good topic. Just act like the bride is the only girl he's ever known in his meek existence.
- Conclude on a good note. You want to end your speech with something that leaves the crowd happy and smiling. After all, this is a wedding.
Remember, this isn't about you. You're there to honor the bride and groom, so don't try to steal the show with an especially clever or funny speech.
Most importantly, try not to get nervous. If you stay PC, the worst that can happen is a ballroom of temporarily bored guests. They'll still clink their flutes and applaud when you're done. And everyone will return to the cake, the dancing, and the drinking eventually. So calm down, keep it simple, and have fun.
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