You Need to Have This Talk Before Your Wedding
I've been to a lot of weddings.
I've seen a lot of speeches.
I've seen some amazing tear jerkers, buttttt I've also seen speeches crash and burn the entire place down. I'm not sure why anyone would choose a wedding to talk about some of the most embarrassing moments of their best friend's life (or some things that should ALWAYS stay between them-forever and ever til death do us part...) but it happens. And it happens more than I'd like to admit.
I've been to weddings where the speeches drone on and on with no end in sight. I've even been to a wedding where the DJ literally played the Academy music to stop the bleeding, induce some humor, but most importantly, end the speech.
One time I saw a speech that wasn't a speech at all. The best man may have imbibed a little too heavily before his turn, didn't write anything down, and choked for lack of a better word. Took the mic and handed it right back to the DJ. Grimace.
You don't have to babysit your BM or MOH. Honestly, I hope you chose someone who takes this role seriously and wants to do good by you. But even some of the best intentioned speech givers could benefit from the following rules of thumb.
1) Keep it short.
Ask your BM or MOH to limit their speech to 3-5 minutes. That may not seem like a long time, but keep in mind that your parents may want to say a few words, you guys may want to do a quick welcome speech, and then you have 2 (or more depending on how many MOHs or BMs you have) speeches coming from each of them. The best speeches I've ever seen hit the sweet spot of between 3-5 minutes. Longer than a toast, but short enough so the meaning doesn't get lost in a bunch of inside jokes and reminiscing.
2) Keep the inside jokes to a minimum.
Honestly, there is nothing that will make your guests tune out more quickly than a speech laden with inside jokes. Obviously, they can't connect because they weren't there, and they automatically feel excluded. So ask your BM or MOH to keep those to a minimum, or cut them entirely.
3) Keep it sweet.
Yes, your relationship may exist on the foundation of messing with each other, but that just comes across as mean in this type of context. There is well intentioned humor and I'm all for that, and then there is roasting and honestly, that type of speech just leaves people confused with a bad taste. If you have this type of friendship, definitely sit your BM or MOH down and emphasize how important it is that they save the jokes for the rehearsal dinner.
4) Write. it. down.
I'm sorry, unless you're BM or MOH is Barack Obama (it's not, and if it is, I'd be cool with shooting that wedding), he or she really needs to write that speech down. Now is not the time for them to try and speak from the heart or depend on their memory to get them through, because unless your BM or MOH gives speeches to rooms full of 200 people on the reg, there is just too much room for that speech to go rogue. When a speech is written down, it is easier for that speech to stay the course, stay to the point, and get a standing ovation. Also, this is me being all anti-technology, but actually write or type that speech out on paper. A phone looks kind of tacky in pictures. Totally my own unpopular opinion.
Look, I know this sounds like a lot to ask of your BM or MOH and you may be afraid of coming across bridezilla-y or the equivalent of that for the groom, but I promise you, it is better to experience discomfort now than in front of 200 of your guests. You could even just send them the link to this post, I'm happy to 'splain. Obviously express that you totally trust them, and you just want to cover your bases in case they were having a hard time coming up with what to say. Speech writing is an art (says the former speech teacher), and I think any direction you can provide will be well received.
Good luck and happy planning!