Toast

Toast
In my 31 years of living, I’ve attended several weddings but never been in one. Now, in 2008, I find myself in the odd position of being a groomsman in Ernesto and Lae-Lae’s wedding in two weeks and being the best man for my brother’s wedding at the end of July. I’m excited but I don’t know what to do.

Specifically, it’s the latter that concerns me. It’s a honor and I’m happy with it and all, and I know, theoretically, that they’re not much for me to do. My brother organized the bachelor party—a Texas Rangers baseball game and a bar; no strippers—so that was off my back.

For me, it’s just a matter of keeping the tuxedo clean (easy), keeping the rings safe (easy enough) and making a toast to the bride and groom (oh dear god). As you can guess from the parenthetical statements, speechmaking is not my forte. I’ve been told, a decade ago, that I have a voice (and a body) perfectly suited for radio, but I’m sure neither of the words I will write nor the vocal delivery I’ll have when the time comes. I’m scoured YouTube for best man toasts, but the delivery and quality of camerawork varies wildly. They all try to be funny—the YouTube videos are like stand-up comedy tryouts—and generally toast the couple early on. Beyond that, there’s no consistency, and I need help in shaping this thing.

That’s where you come in. What advice would you give to a best man? What are things you’ve heard in speeches that ring true or false, or that you’d rather lose a kidney to science than ever hear again? What do you think is the appropriate tone? Would you recommend any books, movies, etc., that might help? Any assistance would be appreciated.

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About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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6 Responses to Toast

  1. gorjus says:

    My general rules are: Welcome to the family, (very) gentle roast (that ultimately shows warmth and love), heartfelt bit, and get out. It needs to be short–the longer, the more potential for screw-ups or damage (or, in my case, choking up).
    Specifically, I’d try to pull out a story of childhood that “is” your brother and connects to the man he is today.

  2. I was going to post pretty much the exact same advice as gorjus. I’ll just add that you’re going to get big laughs for even the mildest of roast-ful ribbings, and the key thing is not to let that approval drive you to up the ante further and further — a wedding crowd has old people in it and people who are (sometimes unnecessarily) concerned for what they think is old people’s concern for propriety, and they will turn on you in a second.

  3. Ernesto says:

    As to the best man duties, I think your job is to serve as a buffer between your brother and all the requests that will be coming at him on the wedding day. Filter and delegate as much as you can.
    I’m excited to see you soon.
    ~E

  4. Thanks, guys. I’ve heard “short and sweet” from various sources, and I plan on keeping it clean. Since I obviously don’t know the bride as well as the groom, how should I approach treatment of her in the toast?

  5. Ernesto says:

    Just be welcoming….that’s all you have to do. Her people will make the more intimate speeches for her.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Yeah, what they said. My very best to your whole fam!

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