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groomsmen guide - tips

Toasting: Tips for the Best Man

Raise a glass and honor the bride and groom! Make it sentimental, funny, informative, and, well, PG-13.

Photo: Leah Powell Photography

Still deciding whether to crack everyone up with your reception toast or keep it safe and serious? The answer: do a little of both. Nothing kills a wedding buzz faster than a stiff in a tux who thinks the assembled crowd cares about his spiritual trek through Tanzania with the groom. At the same time, the groom's forays into debauchery are not exactly parent-proof (or bride-proof) material. If you're wondering how to balance these two extremes, read on.

If you've been friends since childhood, take a moment to pay homage to the staying power of your bond.

Your Role

As your friend's best man, you're a walking, talking reminder of the prenuptial good fella he was before he met his dearly beloved. You are a living testament to the good times, bad times, and ridiculously stupid times he had as a bachelor. If you're already married, you know how important it is for the groom to maintain a death-grip on his single-guy past -- in memory if not in action. That's where you come in.

The Big Night

When the big moment rolls around, your mission is to tell friends, parents, and newly minted in-laws that the groom was not only a dedicated friend, caring son, and industrious student, but a guy who knew how to party when the occasion called for it. How you deliver that message is a matter of personal preference, but try a bittersweet mix of sentimental recollection and good old-fashioned ribbing.

Pleased to Meetcha

First thing's first: Introduce yourself with a brief description of how long, and in what capacity, you've known the groom. You want everyone to get a feel for the friendship that inspired him to choose you -- above all others -- as his best man. If you guys met in a less-than-savory place, tone down the details of your first encounter and focus on the moments between then and now. If you've been friends since childhood, take a moment to pay homage to the staying power of your bond.

High Jinks

Once you've established your legitimacy as the true Barney to his Fred, move on to the verbal slide show, highlighting moments from your life of crime together -- figuratively speaking, of course -- and classic episodes from the happy days you've shared. This is a good place to insert some humor, so feature first dates, travel adventures, and mistaken identities. Try to keep anecdotes short and sweet, and make sure they share a common theme: your unique friendship with this one-of-a-kind guy who has stood by you through thick and thin.

Give the Thumbs Up

Finally, use your best-friend credibility to assure his new bride that she has partnered with the one man in the universe worthy of her attention. If you know her well enough, throw in a few words about the perfect nature of their union. (Hint: Mention specifics, like their mutual love for tennis and post-post-deconstructionist literary discourse.) Basically, give their relationship the big thumbs-up and then add how much you're looking forward to the second act of your friendship, starring not just your buddy, but his wife and (if applicable) your better half. This last step is a crucial component of your toast: Do not forget to include it. It is the best thing you can do to charm the crowd and ensure the stability of your post-honeymoon friendship with the groom.

In a Nutshell

Think of the best-man toast as a screenplay for your own personal buddy flick starring the groom and yours truly, plus cameo appearances by his bride, your fraternity brothers, and the Honda you totaled in high school. Make sure it's got plenty of action, a bit of romance, and an irresistibly happy ending. And, for your best friend's sake, try to keep it PG-13.

-- Robert Mortiz

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