Even the most talented speaker can be very nervous when he has to give a speech as the groom's witness. Being a witness is a great honor, and you are expected to do justice to it, to make the guests cry and laugh, and to contribute to the most important day of the couple's life. The most important thing you can do is thank everyone for being there, show your bond with the groom, and make people laugh without embarrassing anyone. If you want to learn how to write a moving and memorable speech, read on to Step 1.
Part 1 of 2: Writing a special speech
Step 1. Be yourself and don't write a formal speech that doesn't suit you
While there are a few rules to follow, the most important thing is to stay true to your relationship with the groom -- even if it's a slightly censored version of your relationship. You don't have to sound too slimy or pretend to be who you are. In the end, it's about coming straight from your heart and staying true to yourself.
- Most wedding speeches contain humor to keep things light and entertain the guests. But if that doesn't really suit you and makes the jokes sound forced, you don't have to follow this rule.
- However, if you're known for your wit and sarcasm, you don't have to bend over backwards to be overly sentimental. A few heartfelt sentimental words are enough to get the message across without having to pretend.
- If you don't like speaking in front of an audience, don't get nervous. You can even joke about how much you love giving a speech in front of a group of people, or whether it's your punishment because the groom recently had to push your car when it wouldn't start.
Step 2. Keep it short
You can't just say something like "Let's toast to the newlyweds!" or use a one-liner, but you also don't want to keep a long-winded, incoherent story. After all, this day isn't about you. Your speech should be long enough to make the points you want to make. Don't make your speech longer than that. As a rule of thumb, try to make the speech about 2 to 4 minutes long. Most people don't have the patience to listen to a speech that lasts longer than 5 minutes. The bride and groom may even already have an idea of how long they want the speeches to take, so you can also just ask them.
- While your speech should be well prepared, you can also watch the guests; if people start to wobble and want to eat or drink, delete that second part you weren't quite sure about anyway.
- Normally, the groom's witness gives a speech, but maybe there are more people who want to say something. The father of the bride or the bridesmaids may also have something prepared. And who knows, drunk Uncle Bert is also eager with impatience. If there are multiple speeches, it's definitely important to keep yours short so that the guests don't have to listen to people talking all evening.
Step 3. Write and practice your speech in advance
The sooner you write your speech, the more time you have to practice and improve the text. This will make you feel more confident when you have to deliver your speech to all the guests at the wedding. Don't think you'll give yourself some courage and then give a shout out about the newlyweds. That's one of the worst things you can do, because you might say things you'll regret later, or you might lose track. It is important to be well prepared so that you can deliver the speech without faltering.
Don't be ashamed to have a written version of your speech handy. Even if you don't look at it once, it can give you a little more confidence to know that you can cheat for a while
Step 4. Look for inspiring examples
If you find it really difficult, it's okay to watch one of the thousands of wedding speeches on YouTube. You may get some ideas that you would never have come up with otherwise. You can also find written versions online, or ask friends to help you.
Part 2 of 2: Giving the speech
Step 1. Stay sober enough to give a good speech
While every wedding is different, a witness often gives the speech over dinner, when all the guests are seated and hopefully can focus their attention on the speaker for a moment. That means there can be a few hours between the wedding ceremony and your speech. There may have already been a reception with tasty drinks. That means you need to control yourself and don't drink too much or you might look like a fool. When your speech is over, you can go wild, if you want!
Remember that many people will be filming you when you give your speech. You don't want to be captured and remembered forever like a drunk
Step 2. Ask if you can have the company's attention for a moment
The guests may be rowdy so you may have to tap your fork against a glass or wait for everyone to sit at the table before getting started. Since you're going to introduce yourself first, it's important for people to listen so they know who you are and your connection to the groom. Just say something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention?"
Depending on how the party is organized, it may also be the case that someone else introduces you, so you don't have to do it yourself. But be prepared to hold the mic in your hands and to calm the audience yourself
Step 3. Introduce yourself
The first thing to do is tell the public who you are. Although most will have already seen that you are the witness, it is still important to say who you are and how you know the newlyweds. Not everyone may know you, so say who you are, how you met the couple, and how long you've known them. Even if you haven't memorized your entire speech, it's good to remember the opening so you get off to a good start. Here are some simple ways to introduce yourself:
- "For those who don't know me yet, I'm Pieter, [name of the groom]'s little brother".
- "I'm Rick, [groom's name]'s best friend. I've known [bride's name] since their second date."
- "I'm Dennis, good friend of [groom's name]. I've known [groom's name] and [bride's name] since the first year of college. We shared a student flat."
Step 4. Express your gratitude
If the couple's parents have paid for the wedding, you can thank them, but be subtle. Don't thank them for "paying for the wedding," thank them for making the party possible. You can say something about how beautiful the wedding ceremony was and how wonderful the party venue is, and that everyone is having a great time. This way you thank the parents without putting it on too much.
- It is also nice to thank the guests for coming.
- You can also thank the bridesmaids. Say that they are wonderful friends for the bride and how beautiful they look. It's okay to tease them a little, as long as you don't come across as a creep. You can say how beautiful you like the color of their dresses, or how great they helped during the ceremony.
Step 5. Make light-hearted jokes about the groom
A good witness makes a joke about the groom, giving everyone a glimpse into his personality. If you want to use a classic yet funny quote, consider choosing a quote from Oscar Wilde: "Marriage is the victory of imagination over intelligence." You shouldn't offend anyone, but it's okay to joke about how shy/extroverted/perfectionist the groom is. It's best to use a character trait that most people will know, then it won't be a chat.
- Remember that half the people probably don't know each other. People should find your speech funny and touching without needing to know the groom, or hearing too much detail about someone they don't know. If it's a more intimate wedding and most people know each other, you can go into more detail if you like.
- If you're the groom's brother, you can joke about how he used to tease you when you were little, or how you made his life miserable. You can also joke that not much has changed in that regard.
- Try to maintain a good emotional balance. You have to make loving comments about the groom as much as you make jokes.
Step 6. Tell a touching story about the groom
The most important part of your speech should be a short anecdote about the groom and preferably the bride. The purpose of this story is to give your speech a little more personal touch, but avoid picking up annoying details from the past. The story should show why the bridal couple belongs together, or why the groom's personality fits perfectly with the bride's. Here are some ways to do that:
- Tell a funny story. This way you not only break the formal atmosphere of the ceremony, but you also arouse sympathy for the couple among your audience. A good way to get the attention of all the guests is to start your story with a sentence like "I'm going to tell you a secret about the groom now" or "the groom begged me not to tell this story during my speech, but I couldn't resist."
- You can also tell a touching story. A particularly suitable story is how the bride and groom met, or something sweet that made their relationship more serious. Since you are the groom's best friend, now might be the right time to share how you saw him fall head over heels in love with the bride.
- If you can't think of appropriate stories or if you don't know the bride well enough to include her in a story, make some general comments about love or marriage, or about the groom's feelings for the bride. Even if you haven't known the bride very long, you can tell something about the first time the groom told you about her, or what he said about their first date.
Step 7. Avoid sensitive topics
While you may find it funny to talk about the groom's annoying ex-girlfriend or the night he was in jail for public intoxication, the couple and their family probably won't appreciate it at all. Your jokes should be harmless and only a little naughty if you're 100 percent sure that everyone in the audience, including the newlyweds, can appreciate it.
- Make a funny anecdote fit for everyone; the last thing you want is to say something mean or humiliating.
- If you talk about that great time when their relationship broke up for three weeks, or how much fun your boyfriend was before he got in touch with her, the bride will probably never forgive you. Never jeopardize your relationship with the groom by a thoughtless speech.
- Never say in your speech that you didn't like the bride at first, but that she turned out to be nice.
- And finally, don't think it's funny to insult the party venue or the food. Someone paid a lot of money for this, so it's not funny to mock the kitschy Christmas lights or the chewy chicken.
Step 8. Dig deeper into the groom's good qualities
For example, talk about how loyal and compassionate he is, or that you know how much he loves the bride and that he will make a wonderful husband. You can actually think of yourself as a salesman who sells the groom, as it were, to the members of the bride's family, who may not know him as well as you do. Let him know how much he means to you, how he has helped you over the years, or how he got you through a rough patch.
- You can also talk about what he has done for you. For example, say, "I will never forget how Mark helped me with my move. I would never have made it without him."
- It is quite normal to find this part of the speech a little embarrassing. Just remember that this is your boyfriend's big day and no one will laugh at you for getting a little sentimental.
Step 9. Don't forget to pay tribute to the bride
Of course, you don't want to give the impression that you don't know why this wonderful man is marrying her. On the contrary, you can tell that you notice that the groom is so much happier/calmer/happy since he met her. For example, say: "After Job met Tessa, he began to worry a lot less about unimportant matters…".
It's okay if you don't know the bride very well. Instead of saying that outright, you can say, "Although I don't know Tessa as well as I would like, I knew right away that she was the one for Job."
Step 10. Compliment the couple's relationship
That can be a nice end to the speech, especially if you've joked a lot about the groom. There are many ways to compliment the relationship, for example by saying how well they fit together, how they work together as a team, how they balance each other out, or how you can see how in love they are.
- For example, say, "Even when Job and Tessa are across the room, you can still tell they're watching each other. They don't have to be glued together to have a strong bond."
- You can also comment on how you admire their relationship and that you too are looking for a love as strong as theirs (if you're still single). If you're married yourself, you can share some thoughts about the wedding, and why the newlyweds are such a good match.
- You don't have to overdo it and say they're the perfect couple, that they belong together, are soul mates or something, if you don't really think so. You can emphasize the strengths of their relationship without it sounding forced.
Step 11. End with a quote
While you don't necessarily have to use a quote, it can be a nice bridge between talking about the couple and making the toast. You can search the internet for inspiration or use a common quote about marriage like, "Marriage isn't about finding the person you can live with, it's about finding the person you can't live without."
Don't force yourself to do this if you can't think of something really appropriate
Step 12. Make a toast
The most important part of your speech is to wish the couple all the best during their life together. This should summarize your speech and bring everyone together. Hold up your glass and ask the other guests to do the same to toast the happy newlyweds.
- You can say something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to propose a toast to Tessa and Job. May they have many happy and healthy years together."
- You can also say: "To a long and happy life for Tessa and Job".
- If the bride has taken the groom's name, you can also toast to "Mr. and Mrs. de Vries".
- Give compliments often. People can often laugh at this just as much as they can at a good one-liner.
- Keep some mints in your pocket. You will be talking to a lot of people on the day of the wedding.
- Make your speech a mix of candor and humor, if you can. Well-chosen humor generally works well with most speeches, and a speech given by the groom's best man is no exception. A good joke is especially valuable for breaking the ice at the beginning of your speech and a happy note is always welcome after a sentimental and moving story.
- Bring some notes in case you get lost during your speech. Of course you don't want to read your speech off a sheet of paper, but a short summary on an index card can ensure that you don't forget important things.
- A short poem about the bridal couple (4 or 5 lines will be enough) is always very well received.
- Make eye contact with the mother of the bride during a particularly heartfelt and emotional part of your speech.
- If you want to try something a little different, consider doing a slideshow with relevant photos or bring an object that means a lot and use it as a prop.
- Don't make dirty jokes unless you're 100% sure you know all the guests and their preferences. Skip dirty jokes, suggestive comments about the honeymoon, and stories about the groom's ex-girlfriend. This is most likely not appropriate. You're not in your gym's locker room right now. Even though the groom and his friends will find your comments funny, the bride and her mother probably won't think so. People will forgive you for being a little bumbling or sentimental, reading your text from cards or being a little boring, but if you ruin the reception with a dirty joke and embarrass the bride, no one will ever forgive you - - especially the bride. If you're wondering if a joke is appropriate, don't use it.
- Don't try to force humor. If you don't like to speak in public and you're not sure you can be funny, it's a lot better to read a serious speech from notes rather than trying to spend one evening to be a comedian. Most of the jokes that you can find on websites and in books with titles like "The best jokes for a wedding" are not funny, by the way. No one will get mad at you if you're not funny enough, but everyone at the party will get annoyed if you try way too hard to be funny and draw all the attention to you.
- Stay sober before giving your speech. If you are drunk you will leave a negative impression on everyone and your audience will question your judgment of the groom.