What not to say at a wedding?
Best Man Speeches — The Top 10 Mistakes
Worried about making your best man’s speech? You should be. You won’t often have the opportunity to offend, embarrass or bore so many people with your public speaking all at the same time … unless, of course, you’re a Tory peer.
The good news is that nobody’s forcing you to make a fool of yourself; you’re in control of your own destiny. A little common sense will keep you out of trouble. If you’re lacking in that department, pay close attention to our list of the Top 10 Best Man’s Speech Mistakes:
1) DON’T MILK IT
Yes, you’ve got a big part to play in the day’s proceedings, but remember; you’re not the main event. A good best man’s speech should be limited to not more than 1000 words. That’s about seven minutes. Any longer and you’ll start to lose your audience.
If things are going well, don’t be tempted to improvise and add to your speech. An ill-considered ad lib can turn the crowd against you and once their attention starts to drift, it’s hard to get them back.
2) SHELVE THE SHAGGY DOG STORIES
Amusing incidents from the groom’s past can be gold dust, but not if the punch line takes ten minutes to set-up. Consider whether you need to relate an entire story. If it can be potted down to two or three lines of hard-hitting humour, it will get a much better response. A 500 word summary of Steve’s disastrous 1992 pot-holing holiday might be entertaining for your fellow spelunkers at the reception, but you’d be better off distilling it into a single gag …
«As anyone who remembers Steve’s notorious caving accident in ’92 will know, he’s used to being trapped in a harsh, cold environment which no light can reach. So he should find marriage a breeze.»
3) AND ANOTHER THING. LIMIT YOUR ANECDOTES
If you do decide that an anecdote is worth relating — and some definitely are — make it the centrepiece of your speech, not one of several stories that get lost in the mix. In fact, don’t ever tell more than one or two extended stories. The wait between laughs is too long, and if a story falls flat, it’ll suck the life out of the room quicker than you can say «…at which point, the Vicar walked in.»
Remember also that the groom will be less well known to some members of your audience than others. A long story that relies on intimate knowledge of his character or experiences will delight some, but disappoint many.
4) HAVE A DIG, BUT DON’T BURY HIM
Everyone expects the groom to get a little ribbing on his big day, but you’re not out to destroy him. Go easy. Balance friendly digs with praise and well-wishing and you’ll be seen as a cheeky tease, instead of just a bastard. If you want to push things a little further, include an element of self-deprecating humour. Your audience will excuse more if you put yourself in the firing line alongside the groom:
«My friendship with Terry dates back to secondary school. I’m not sure why I was drawn to him. Maybe it was his My Little Pony back pack or his blue national health glasses. Best of all, his appearance earned him the reputation of the school weirdo, a title I would no longer have to carry alone.»
5) DON’T MENTION THE EX
- Don’t punch the bride’s Dad.
- Do wear a tie … and trousers.
- Don’t puke on the cake.
- Do bring a gift.
- Don’t bring an escort.
6) BEWARE OF THE BRIDE
As an extension of the point above, the Bride should be considered off-limits as a subject for humour or ridicule. In the first place, this is her special day, not yours; the last thing she needs is for her husband’s mate to ruin it for her. Plus, you do want to stay his mate, right? As of today, she has the power to scupper that plan with a wave of her hand.
7) NEVER MIND THE B*LL*CKS
Language is a fluid, ever-changing thing. Everyday words can become obsolete in a generation. New phrases and modes of speech rise and fall almost with the tides.
And nowhere is the linguistic generation gap more pronounced than when it comes to swearwords.
If you’re under forty, there will be words that you may not even acknowledge as rude, but which still have the power to make Great Aunt Doris at the back of the room swallow her dentures in shock. To be on the safe side, avoid even mild expletives like crap and bloody. If you feel that toning your language down compromises your delivery, tough. You can console yourself with the fact that the old bitch Doris will be dead soon. And then who’ll be f*ck*ng laughing, eh?
8) DON’T JUST READ, RECITE
When’s the last time you needed to learn lines? Community panto? Cub Scout pledge? Infant School Nativity play? Learning great chunks of your speech by heart may be a tall order, especially if time is tight, but you’ll be surprised how well you can come across if you are able to memorise certain key phrases and deliver them with confidence.
Start by committing your opening lines to memory. Keep your head up, address the crowd (not the microphone) and believe in yourself. The first impression you make will set the tone for the rest of your speech, and determine how attentive your audience is likely to be. As the speech progresses, feel free to refer to notes or prompt cards, and if you absolutely must read word for word, at least try to look up from the page as much as possible. Have your closing lines memorised too, so you can end with a flourish.
9) IT’S NOT A RACE
This is really more about delivery in general, though for the nervous speaker, whizzing through one’s lines at breakneck speed is a common problem. However finely crafted and entertaining your best man’s speech is, if you blow the delivery it’ll sink faster than a Segway in a stream. Speak up. Don’t rush or mumble. Don’t talk into your chest. Do smile and share your good humour with the crowd. And when a joke hits the spot, give it room to breath; let the laughter subside before picking up where you left off.
10) DON’T FADE AWAY
First impressions count, but last impressions … well … last. It’s your closing comments that people will remember clearest, so spend some time finding the right way to wrap things up. It may be that you want to save your best gag and end on a big laugh. Or perhaps you’d like to sit on the soppy stuff ’til last, so you can leave them with tears in their eyes. Whatever you decide, don’t let your best man’s speech simply peter out. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a punch line that never …
What Not To Say To Someone At A Wedding
Wedding season is upon us, and after years of pandemic restrictions, people are ready to party. The wedding industry has seen a huge spike in 2022 with over 2.5 million weddings expected to happen this year, according to The New York Times. As you dust off your dancing shoes and RSVP for this year’s events, remember what a good wedding guest looks like: follow the dress code, show up on time, enjoy the ceremony, dance up a storm, and show the newlyweds your love with a thoughtful gift.
While this might seem like common knowledge, you’d be surprised by how many «guest-zillas» wedding vendors have seen over the years. Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love and happiness, but they can also bring out entitled family members and overzealous acquaintances with very loud opinions they feel they need to share during the celebration. Wedding photographer Gerry Duffy writes about the do’s and don’ts for wedding guests who get a few precious moments to chat with the happy couple on their big day.
Keep your curiosity to yourself
The number one comment Gerry Duffy suggests you never make at a wedding: «So, when are you having kids?» Let the newlyweds enjoy their wedding day before asking them about their sex life. Also, you never know what a couple has experienced regarding having kids: they may not want children, struggle with fertility, or have experienced pregnancy loss. Even if your curiosity is well-meaning, it’s inappropriate to ask in any context, especially on a couple’s wedding day.
Try to avoid awkward questions like, «How much did you pay for all of this?» The couple is probably trying to forget how much they spent to feed and entertain all the closest people in their lives, try not to put them in the uncomfortable position of discussing it with you.
Wedding Forward reports that almost all guests have issues with who was or was not invited. No matter how curious you are, asking, «Why didn’t you invite your cousin?» is not cool. Be grateful that you were invited, and don’t worry why others weren’t. And even though you were invited, doesn’t mean the day is all about you. Don’t ask to give a speech or ask if you can switch tables; if your question is super important, find a member of the bridal party to talk to, rather than bombarding the couple on an already busy day.
Enjoy the wedding without filling out a complaint card
Author Alyssa Brown shares phrases guests should never say at a wedding, per Martha Stewart. She recommends steering clear of any form of complaint when talking with the happy couple. The money dance is not the time to tell the bride that the chicken was dry. Even if you aren’t vibing with the dance playlist, it’s not your place to bother the wedding party about it; the selection of music was chosen with the couple’s music taste in mind. If you don’t like the DJ, don’t hire them at your own wedding. And as much as we love a full-service open bar, the couple may not have been able to afford such a luxury, or they might be participating in a dry bar to accommodate sober members of their family and friends. Even if you think you’re helping, saying, «This is what I would have done instead,» in any context has no place at a wedding.
Barring a medical emergency, there is really no reason at all to complain to the newlyweds. If you must gossip, save it for the next family reunion, but we recommend against it: remember that a couple’s wedding is a representation of their love. If you wouldn’t have personally picked the venue or the color scheme hurts your eyes, that’s fine, because it’s not your day. Constant negative comments and complaining is a sure-fire way to be uninvited from the next big occasion.
Say something nice – or don’t say anything!
An article by Vogue talks about the most common issues guests have at weddings, including the quality of the food, the lulls between ceremony and reception, and the general lack of organization throughout the day. While those are valid issues that do happen at some weddings, it is not the guest’s place to make comments to the couple about.
Remember that even the «tackiest» weddings are providing a free meal, a drink, and some entertainment. Be gracious that you were welcomed by the newlyweds on their special day, and hopefully that will make up for any issues you have with the seating chart or the lengthy speeches. The Knot writes that the key to being a great wedding guest is not hogging the happy couple, so use the few moments you have to share words of love and encouragement as they begin their new life together. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all . or even better, just say, congratulations!
The Do’s & Don’ts of Wedding Toasts
If you’ve been given the title Maid of Honor or Best Man at your friend’s wedding, you are generally expected to make a toast during the reception. Using the tips below, you can wow the crowd.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. When you have a speech you are proud of, get in front of a mirror and practice. Practice gestures, timing and facial expressions, anything you need to do to make sure you are ready to give your speech. This is the time to really polish your speech.
- Keep it clean. There will be a wide variety of people there, from grandma to the kids running around the tables. Give a toast that is appropriate for all age groups and sensibilities. This is their big day; no need to be a distraction from it.
- Speak to the crowd. Make eye contact with the people in the room, since you are delivering the toast to them. It makes the audience feel included, and helps you relax as you are speaking.
- Politeness goes a long way. Say some thank yous at the beginning to the bride and groom, the parents, and anyone else who is special to the couple. Then thank all of the people there for showing up for the bride and groom’s big day. Introduce your relationship to the couple or how you met them. It is a nice way to start and work your way through some of the jitters.
- Be yourself. If you are not a naturally funny person, you don’t need to be funny in front of a room full of people you do not know all that well. Great toasts are something that are given from the heart and reflect the personality of the person giving it.
- Don’t wing it. This is a big day for the bride and groom. They asked you to be part of their wedding as a best man or maid of honor, so you should take some time to prepare what you are going to say.
- Think Gettysburg Address, not State of the Union. You want to create a speech that is short and to the point, but not so short it looks like you are making it up as you go. Three to five minutes is a good time frame to shoot for.
- This is a toast, not a roast. Tell funny stories that are not embarrassing to anyone in the room, especially the bride and groom. Self-deprecating humor and funny stories are great, as long as no one gets hurt in the end.
- Don’t be tipsy for the speech. Having a cocktail or glass of wine before the toast to calm your nerves is fine, but no more than one. While we are on the subject of drinks, make sure everyone has one before you start so that they can raise their glasses at the end.
- Leave the past in the past. Absolutely NO discussion of exes. Period. Talk about events that happened to them as a couple, not ones that happened to them individually before they even met. And leave out that one night. You know which one.
Remember that a wedding toast is your chance to honor the couple on their big day, and send them off into their marriage with your best wishes. Don’t let the public speaking jitters keep you from enjoying the reception. Have fun celebrating your friends!
About Roberts Centre
Roberts Centre is home to the region’s largest convention center, a luxurious Holiday Inn hotel, and Ralph’s American Grill. The flexibility of our space, combined with our location between three major cities in Ohio, makes us the perfect venue for weddings, banquets, meetings, pet shows, and other special events.