A Comprehensive Guide to Rocking Your Best Man Speech
Congrats—you're the best man. It's a good feeling when one of your loved ones asks you to be their right hand for the wedding. But beyond the fun and harmless best man responsibilities, like planning an epic bach party or crushing the dance floor, your final (and arguably most meaningful duty) is delivering a heartfelt best man speech. Whether you're a public speaking pro or you get nervous just thinking about it, boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by using our helpful tips, ideas and examples for inspiration.
In this article:
How Long Should a Best Man Speech Be?
In general, keep the speech to no more than five minutes and three minutes minimum. This is enough time to say something meaningful before guests get too antsy. Of course, you should adjust your speech length to the event. If you're speaking at a last-minute wedding, it might require a brief speech, while a formal affair could call for a longer toast.
5 Tips for Giving a Best Man Speech
If you have the honor of being the best man, you're probably wondering how to write a best man speech. The good news is that there are several great best man speech tips to increase your odds of success, says Dominic Bliss, wedding writer and author of Being the Best Man for Dummies. Study up on these helpful pointers below to minimize pre-speech jitters and ensure a smooth delivery.
1. Plan ahead.
The first tip in our guide on how to write a best man speech is to get started in advance. (As in, do not procrastinate.) "Start writing a best man speech at least two months before the wedding," Bliss says. "As the wedding nears, there are lots of events—suit fittings and a coed shower, perhaps—that could distract you from getting your writing done." Brainstorm and write down any stories, jokes or quotes you would like to include in your speech. The more time you have to prepare your best man speech, the better. This way, you'll be able to be fully present at upcoming wedding festivities.
2. Be genuine.
Whether the wedding guests are strangers or family, it can feel nerve-racking to deliver your best man speech with all eyes on you. To ease the awkwardness, provide anecdotes and stories about the relationship you have with the couple. Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia—and the guests get to know you better.
With that being said, stay true to how you normally act while making your speech. There's no need for you to change who you really are for some made-up public speaking persona. If you feel more comfortable cracking jokes throughout your speech, do it. If you are better at being sentimental and don't mind leaving everyone misty-eyed, take that approach. Remember, the couple chose you to speak at their wedding because they felt you could add something special to their big day. As long as you deliver a heartfelt speech, the newlyweds and guests will love it.
3. Know what topics to avoid.
There are a few topics to omit from the best man speech. No matter how funny you (and even the groom) might think they are, someone is bound to be offended or put off if you mention:
Negativity about marriage in general.
Drinking, drugs, gambling.
"Adult" humor or any other mention of sex.
After all, your best man speech should celebrate the newlywed couple and their love rather than causing future friction.
4. Write it down.
Even those with great memories will feel more confident with a written speech—or at least a few bullet points to keep you on track. Nerves can mess with your memory, so don't think you're a failure if you have to bring notes with you. (Even CEOs do this at corporate events.) Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper since they "won't flap around."
Nowadays, many groomsmen will want to read off their cell phone screens out of convenience, but wedding planners recommend against it. The lighting from your phone screen can ruin the wedding photographer's photos and can be distracting to guests. Practice writing down your speech instead—it's quite soothing.
5. Practice–with an audience.
This tip is a must when it comes to how to write a best man speech. Even if you think you have this whole thing in the bag, practice delivering your speech aloud at least three times. When you're by yourself, take a video and watch the playback to get a feel for how your speech is going. (Do you say "um" between every sentence? Are your gestures a little robotic?) If your friends can't offer critiques in person, "send it [the video] to a close friend who won't be going to the wedding and who can give you honest feedback," Bliss says.
Finally: don't mumble. A great best man speech becomes boring if it's monotonous or if guests are straining to hear you. Speak confidently and slowly.
How to Write a Best Man Speech
Writer's block is no excuse for procrastinating on the best man speech. All you have to do is follow our best man speech outline, which is a tried-and-true template for getting started. Obviously, you don't need to include every element in your speech; instead, customize it to fit the couple, the event and your relationship with the groom.
Best man speech outline
We're guessing the thought of crafting a flawless best man toast from scratch feels pretty overwhelming right about now. Start by drafting a bare-bones outline (trust us, drawing up a rough outline is way more palatable than the thought of writing a fully fleshed-out speech). Here's a great best man speech template to follow:
Have a killer opening line.
Thank the other speakers.
Congratulate the newlyweds.
Say a few nice words about your friend's new spouse.
Make a joke about the groom.
Read messages from guests who couldn't make it, if there are any.
Quote a few famous lines or a poem.
Propose a toast.
Best Man Speech Ideas
To come up with the best best man speech, focus on the groom's personality and the times you've shared. Go through old photos, talk to family and mutual friends about memories or even ask the couple for best man speech ideas (if your speech isn't supposed to be a surprise). Consider these questions while writing your speech: Will the groom mind if you make fun of them a little, or are they more serious or sensitive? Is there a heartwarming story you can tell that others might not know about? What people will be attending the wedding and what kind of humor will they enjoy?
Begin your speech by addressing the audience and thanking them for attending the wedding. Here's an example: "Hello, everyone. On behalf of the newlyweds, I would like to thank everyone for attending their amazing celebration." You can even butter up the crowd by saying how lovely everyone looks this evening.
Once you address the audience, give props to the previous speaker to help lead into your speech. If you know your speech has a sillier sentiment, now's your chance to warn your audience in the change of direction. Here's an example: "Let's give it up to the amazing speech given by the wonderful maid of honor. If you enjoyed how thoughtful and sweet her speech was, you better get the tissues ready for this one!"
Next, express your gratitude to the couples' parents. Thank the couples' parents for not only raising incredible adults and, if they helped pay for the wedding, for hosting such a great party. Here's an example: "I'd like to begin by expressing my deepest gratitude to the couples' parents for raising such amazing people, who I am fortunate to call my best friends. I would also like to raise a toast thanking their parents for hosting such an awesome celebration for all of us to enjoy this evening."
Finally, introduce yourself and how you know the groom or couple. This is a great opportunity to slip in a funny story or memory you have with them that can lead you into the rest of your speech.
Jokes and one-liners
If you want to deliver a funny best man speech, consider poking some kind of fun at the groom. "Every groom will have some funny characteristic or quirk you can ridicule," Bliss says. "As long as it's something everyone can appreciate, it's sure to get a laugh. Avoid obscure references or inside jokes. You want older guests and those who don't know him that well to see the funny side too." Be strategic about your jokes too. Make jokes about the groom, but leave their new spouse alone.
Bliss advises that you "kick off with a killer opening line," so you can get everyone's attention and set the mood. A good one-liner is short but sincere. It should be a quick humorous sentence that can keep the guests laughing for a while—this gives you time to shake off any public speaking jitters.
Concluding your best man speech is the easiest part. Simply raise your glass and offer a toast wishing the couple a lifetime of happiness, excellent health and success. Your toast can include one final joke or be a marriage quote from you and the groom's favorite movie. Either way, take this chance to express with sincerity that you wish the newlyweds well.
Best Man Speech Examples
Here are a few best man speeches examples you can use as inspiration to create your own speech:
Funny best man speech:
"Hello! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Sam, the best man. I've known (groom) since middle school, which means since before we learned what a mullet is and that it wasn't a good look for either of us.
(Groom) and (spouse) told me there are some topics I should avoid in this speech so… [Look though cue cards, then shake head and dramatically drop them all to the floor but one.]
[Reading from the remaining cue card] ...(Groom) is really the best friend I've ever had. He's done so many wonderful things that it would be difficult to name them all … Hey, Michael, I can't read your handwriting here!
But seriously, it's all true. This guy is a great friend—the best I've got—and I'm very proud to stand by his side today.
(Spouse), I was hoping to be the best-looking person in the room today but obviously, I failed miserably. You look beautiful. I'm so happy for the two of you.
May you always find joy in the little things, like Xbox and Star Wars, oh wait, no that was (groomsman) and me in middle school. Find joy in each other, and have a lifetime of happiness together. Let's toast the newlyweds!"
Short and sweet best man speech:
"As the poet, Dante once said, 'A great flame follows a little spark.' When (groom) met (spouse), there was a little spark. I know because I talked to him the next day.
From the way he talked about (spouse), this girl/boy he chatted up at a party, I could tell this spark was something special.
You two are fantastic together. May the flame burn long—and may sparks continue to fly.
To the newlyweds. Cheers!"
Best man speech for brother:
"On my fourth birthday, my parents got me a brother… I wanted a puppy.
But seriously, as a kid (groom) wanted to do everything I did. He used to follow me around. He used to sneak in my room and play with my Matchbox cars. Our parents could get him to eat his broccoli by making me eat my broccoli.
It wasn't until after I went to college that he started going down his own path. He started doing volunteer work. He found a job he loves, an apartment that's pretty killer and, of course, he found (spouse).
(Spouse), you are radiant today, and you make my brother so happy. Thank you for doing that. He's a good guy. To me, he's the best person you can have by your side.
I'm so happy you two found each other. I mean it when I say that I'm gaining a sister today.
And I'm glad I didn't get a puppy. I love you, little brother.
Congratulations to both of you. I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness together. Let's toast the newlyweds!"