There are plenty of generic best man speeches on the Internet, and just as many one-liners to toss out on the table. While a one-liner or two can add a little extra humor to a best man speech (or any speech, for that matter), the essence of the speech should be personal.
It should speak to the groom and his bride.
It should be yours, all yours.
That is why so many people come to us to ghostwrite their best man speeches, and sometimes other wedding speeches. But making it personal is not simple for a ghostwriter. So we start by asking a few questions. Here are eleven of them.
How do you know the groom?
This is the top question. If you are the best man, it is because you know the groom. Well. That is why you stand before the room full of wedding guests. So if the speech is based on anything, it is based on your relationship with the groom.
How well do you know the groom’s family?
This will help us integrate other key wedding guests into the speech, if possible.
How well do you know the bride? Her family?
This will also help us integrate other key wedding guests into the speech, if possible. Ideally, there will be more than just a passing mention of the bride.
Who are the people you want to and/or need to mention in the speech?
This will capture anyone else important and hopefully keep the best man from being persona non grata in the years ahead. Being the best man is fraught with unintended risks, so best to bring shark repellent.
Are there any anecdotes that you really want to mention?
This is usually where the best man starts getting long-winded – which is a good thing. We often get the best material for the meat of the speech in response to this question.
Is there anyone important that will be slighted if you don’t mention them?
Ah, you noticed. Yes, this is a second safety net for the best man, in case any critical people were forgotten when we asked earlier: “Who are the people you want to and/or need to mention in the speech?”
Is the groom’s life about to change in any other way?
This is important. If a baby is on the way, or the couple plans to move across the Atlantic, this is something that should at least be mentioned. The best man speech is an ode to the past and a toast to the future.
Are there any cultural, religious of family sensitivities/taboos you wish to avoid?
This is another safety net. It is rare that it needs to be used, but sometimes there are some sensitivities and it is important no tot put the best man on the spot, especially if the caterer’s buns are not the freshest. For example, Prince Harry is said to have toned down his best man speech due to the presence of his grandmother, the Queen.
Is there a lesson from your own marriage (or other inspiration, if not married) you wish to impart?
For some reason, when you get married, everybody wants to give you advice. Everybody is an expert. We would not want the best man, armed with the microphone, to miss his chance to dispense whatever wisdom he might wish to share.
What is your comfort level with humor? What style of humor?
And since best man speeches are usually on the lighter side, it helps to understand whether the speaker will be more comfortable in slapstick, self-depreciating, dry or some other kind of humor.
Anything else I should know?
Finally, a wide open question that the speaker can answer however he wishes should capture anything left out up to that point.