5 Things the Maid of Honor and Best Man Should Never Say in Their Speeches

A best man at a wedding given a toast.

The roles of best man and maid of honor are, let’s face it, a pretty big deal. These two are responsible for helping the bride and/or groom through the wedding planning process; they help with DIY projects, plan a great bachelor/bachelorette party, and entertain EVERYONE on the big day with the perfect speech. There are tons of articles out there that will tell you what to put in your best man or maid of honor speech. Today, let’s look at the other side…these are the things you should never (and I mean NEVER) talk about as you toast a new bride and groom.

1. Past Relationships

Most of us spend our lives looking for our soul mates and in our search, we tend to date a lot of people who just weren’t “the one.” As the best man or maid of honor, you’ve probably watched your bestie testing the waters with a lot of partners over the years. It may be tempting to use these past relationships as a reference point in your reception speech. Comparing the other girlfriends and boyfriends to your bestie’s new spouse seems like a quick and easy way to show just how special he or she really is. However, bringing up old lovers is actually a quick and easy way to make everyone feel really, really awkward. Just stick to the relationship in front of you and leave the past alone.

2. Rocky Patches

A maid of honor giving a speech at a wedding.

Every couple fights. That’s just the way it is; no matter how much they may love each other, their personalities are bound to clash from time to time. The strongest couples grow from their arguments, learn to work together, and become a better, more understanding pair as a result. That said, your best man or maid of honor speech is NOT the time or place to talk about the bad times in your friend’s relationship! Even if they handled every fight with grace and compassion, even if you think that their biggest fight (and subsequent makeup) proves that they’re “meant to be,” trust me—their wedding guests don’t need to hear about it. You can talk about what a great couple they are, and how they’re sure to tackle life’s obstacles with aplomb, but don’t bother with real-world examples.

3. Morbid Humor

Let me say before we start this section that I love black comedy. The morbid, deadpan, self-deprecating stuff is my JAM! But even I, who can’t get enough of Martin McDonagh and old George Carlin videos, knows that morbid jokes just don’t belong at a wedding reception. If you’re thinking of starting your speech with “Well, we all thought it wouldn’t last, but…” or “I personally don’t believe in marriage, but…” you’d best rethink that opening. The best man and maid of honor speeches should be positive and lighthearted, full of well-wishes and cute stories about the newlyweds. Keep it light and cheery (if that’s not your typical humor, maybe ask a friend for help writing the speech) and you’ll be sure to make everyone smile!

4. Dirty Humor

A best man giving a toast at t wedding with the bride and groom in the background.

Most of us have seen this faux pas in the movies. Someone—usually the best man (don’t @ me, that’s how movies work)—opens his reception speech with a crass or raunchy story from his wild college days with the groom. His speech goes over horribly; guests look awkward and uncomfortable, elderly relatives clutch their pearls, and the groom’s partner usually looks none too happy by the time it’s over. Save yourself (and your buddy) the awkward glances and offended great-aunts. I don’t care if you have a hilarious anecdote from spring break, your semester abroad, or the bachelor/bachelorette party—DON’T TELL ANY DIRTY STORIES! Remember that the reception speech should be appropriate for a wide range of ages and personalities and stick to the humor that suits everyone.

5. Inside Jokes

As a best man or maid of honor, you need to avoid dark humor and tawdry tales so you don’t offend anyone. But there is another kind of joke that also won’t land in a reception hall: the inside joke. The kind of weird, off-the-wall humor that only you, your bestie, and maybe a few others will understand. The kind of joke that usually ends with, “Well, I guess you had to be there.” Inside jokes won’t leave the wedding guests feeling offended or angry, but they will leave them feeling very confused. Remember, your speech is as much for the rest of the guests as it is for the newlyweds, so make sure you write a speech everyone can understand.

Whether you’re writing a heartfelt, tear-jerking tribute or testing out your stand-up comedy chops, it’s important to steer clear of these five things in your best man or maid of honor speech. If you do, you’re sure to have a speech that both the couple and their guests will appreciate.

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