Here are a few tips on how to give the worst wedding speech ever. (Or here’s what not to do…)
- Bring Up Exes: This is a day were the newlyweds want to look towards the future. Bringing up past loves is awkward for everyone. Although at one wedding I attended, the Best Man told the story of how the groom, before meeting the bride, had a flurry of multiple love affairs. Now that the groom was off the market he asked all those women to please return the key to his apartment because now he was officially off the market. Everyone came up with a key from the flower girl to Grandma, even the pastor. True the Best Man didn’t stick to this rule, but he pulled off bringing up exes superbly well. Everyone had a good laugh.
- Refer to Politics: Unless your name is Colbert, Stewart or Oliver, you are probably not the master of politics and humor, who can pull off mentioning ISIS and a lifetime of love in one sentence successfully?
- One-up the Other Speakers: The people most important to the newlyweds are going to speak, so don’t worry about getting outshone, otherwise you’ll pull a Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids.
- Mention The Couples Faults: Rachel McAdams in The Wedding Crashers gives the perfect example of bringing up a couple’s faults. Cuz where could you possibly be going with this that makes the couple feel good about each other or not feel stuck with each other?
- Give Backhanded Compliments in the Form of a Joke: A Real Housewife was right when she sang, “Money doesn’t always buy you class.” At a million dollar wedding I catered, the father of some Industrial Revolution American dynasty joking said to his son-in-law, “I forgive you for being an unemployed actor because my daughter loves you and you make her happy. Welcome to the family.” The actor/groom stood up and humbly bowed. Good acting dude, good acting.
- Make Your Speech a Sob Fest: Yes, there is always occasion to get serious or bittersweet but try not to linger completely on it. Weddings are still celebratory speeches, find a way to turn the frown upside down eventually for the right balance of sappy/sad/sentimental/happy/elated.
- Read from a Piece of Paper: A good speech is all about eye contact. A speech will come off much more genuine and relaxed if you can ditch the paper and speak from the heart or at least memory; and people will respond to that with good attention.
- Talk About Yourself at Length: This might come as a surprise since you’ve been given such a speaking honor, but this moment is not about you, it’s about the newlyweds. I understand that if you’re setting up a story that it might involve your personal experience, but keep it short and get to the point immediately.
- Drink Too Much Beforehand: A lot of people will say take a shot in order to get rid of some nerves, I disagree. If all goes wrong endearing nervousness can quickly become drunken and awkwardness. If that happens few will remember what you said, but only that you said it drunk.
- Talk about Inside Jokes: I always start glazing over speeches that involve stories or references that are only between the speaker and the newlyweds. There’s usually never enough context for the crowd to get in on the joke or story, so it ends up feeling like the guests awkwardly walked into a personal conversation they are not a part of. Keep the illicit night in Cabo San Lucas for a personal note in your wedding card; stick to stories that are either short enough to tell it fully or that others can easily understand.
Essentially, if you decide these are elements that give a great wedding toast. I expect it will turn out to something like this…best of luck to you then.