We got this email the other day from reader Alex. It's the kind of email we get a lot round these parts:
I’m the best man in my older brother’s wedding and we’re not especially tight. Any tips for making a solid speech?
History is littered with so many horrible best man speeches, and groomsman speeches, and maid of honor speeches, and bridesmaid speeches, and "Who is that drunk asshole and why is he toasting?" speeches. Once someone at a wedding or a rehearsal dinner gives a nice toast, the whole goddamn world wants to stand up and try to best it. It's like a plague. You can go to a rehearsal dinner now and hear 30 speeches. For anyone not giving a toast—anyone who just wants to have a nice meal—it's anguish.
The most important thing is to just keep it short. The worst thing you can do during any rehearsal dinner speech or wedding speech is to go on too long. Every goddamn guy who makes a toast at a wedding thinks it's Amateur Night at the Haha Hole. You're not as charming as you think you are. As the speech-giver, you are essentially holding the entire wedding hostage. People want to 1) drink, 2) eat, and 3) dance/go outside to smoke. That's all they wanna do. Louis CK himself could get up there and if he went for 40 minutes, that'd still be wayyyy too long. Just keep it under three minutes, preferably less. Here's a rough outline:
1. "Thank you so much to (bride's family for paying for the wedding, unless the bride's dad was like, "Fuck that. I'm not paying for a whole wedding")."
2. "I can't believe we're here today, because when I was 6 years old, my brother (pissed on my head/beat a pigeon to death with a rock/stole all the gym teacher's whistles)." One anecdote is all you get. I don't need the entire story of your friendship. This isn't A Separate Peace.
3. "BUT I LOVE HIM."
4. "And now he's marrying (bride's name). I haven't spent much time with (bride's name), but I can tell just from that short amount of time that she is PERFECT for (your brother's name). I can't believe he got so lucky because he (picks his nose/farts on dogs/has cum stains in his Jeep)."
5. "MAZEL TOV."
That's it. And don't whip out notes. Not only is that a jayvee move, but the old people in the back will stab you in the face. They want their dinner NOW.
One last thing: NEVER bring up ex-girlfriends or other people your groom had sex with. Ever. Unless you want everyone to murder you. It's the red onion of best man speeches. Don't think you're funny enough to pull it off somehow.
By the way, I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago, and the old people were NOT FUCKING AROUND at cocktail hour. I waited in line at the bar after the ceremony during the initial drink rush and two old ladies, one of them in a wheelchair, plowed right past me. I even got elbowed. They weren't waiting one more goddamn second for a Manhattan. I wasn't even mad. I was just in awe of their ruthlessness. That's what weddings are about, people: HARD ALCOHOL. Do not get in the way of that.
Now, by all means, do share your wedding toast horror stores in the fetid dungeon of the discussion section.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew's new book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage. Image via Shutterstock.