A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Man Speech
Congrats—you're the best man! It's a pretty good feeling when one of your friends or relatives asks you to be their right hand for the wedding. But lurking beyond all the fun harmless stuff—planning an epic bachelor party and crushing the dance floor, to name a couple—is your final, and arguably most meaningful, duty: the best man speech.
When it comes to public speaking, about 10 percent of the population loves it, and about 10 percent is deathly afraid of it. No matter which camp you fall into, you can always boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by preparing well.
Basics Tips for Giving a Best Man Speech
There are several great best man speech tips to boost 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 way ahead.
"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."
2. Grab their attention.
"Kick off with a killer opening line," Bliss says. Get everyone's attention and set the mood by starting your speech off with a great one-liner.
3. Be strategic about your jokes.
Make jokes about the groom, but leave his new spouse alone. Bliss says to keep any teasing focused on your buddy, whom we're guessing you're closer to.
4. Practice—with an audience.
Even if you think you have this whole thing in the bag, practice delivering your speech out loud at least three times. Whip out your phone, take a video and watch the playback to get a feel for how it's going. (Do you say "um" between every sentence? Are your gestures a little robotic?) "Or send it to a close friend who won't be going to the wedding and who can give you honest feedback," Bliss says.
5. Write it down.
Memorizing is fine if you have a great memory, but you'll feel a lot more confident if you have 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 up there with you. Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper, since they "won't flap around."
6. Add variety.
"Vary the pace and tone of your best man speech," Bliss says. You know those movies that make you laugh, and then make you cry, or have action and romance? Aim for that in your best man speech. Variety will keep your speech interesting and strike the emotional chords of your audience.
7. Don't mumble.
"Enunciate your words loudly and clearly," Bliss says. A great best man speech becomes boring if it's delivered monotone, and it's nonexistent if everyone is straining to hear you. Speak confidently and slowly—otherwise all that speech practice will be for nothing!
8. Have a backup plan.
"If you feel your speech flagging, you can always turn the attention toward the couple and announce cheerfully, 'Aren't they a gorgeous couple?!' This will always get a cheer from your audience," Bliss says.
How to Write a Best Man Speech
Writer's block is no excuse for not starting a best man speech. All you've got to do is follow the below best man speech outline, which Bliss says is a pretty tried-and-true template for getting started. Obviously, you don't need to include all of these elements in your speech; instead, customize it to fit the couple, the event and your relationship with the groom. Take out any pieces that don't quite work, then fill in the details.
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 Length
How long should a best man speech be? In general, keep the speech to no more than five minutes. This is enough time to say something meaningful without boring the audience—all guests get antsy. Of course, you should adjust your speech length to the event. Bliss points out that a quickie Vegas wedding might require a brief speech, while an all-day formal affair could call for a longer toast.
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, there's bound to be someone who's offended or put off if you mention:
- Negativity about marriage in general.
- Past relationships.
- Previous marriages/divorces.
- Drinking, drugs, gambling.
- "Adult" humor or any other mention of sex.
Best Man Speech Ideas
To come up with the best best man speech jokes and one-liners, focus on the groom's personality and times you've shared with him. Would he mind if you make fun of him a little, or is he 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?
"Don't try to be a stand-up comedian if it doesn't come naturally," Bliss says. "But embarrassing anecdotes from the groom's youth are always funny."
Best Man 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." Below, a few sample jabs to inspire you.
If the groom's a bad cook: "When I used to share an apartment with [groom], it was his job to cook all the meals, and it was my job to go from room to room taking out all the batteries from the smoke alarms."
If the groom's a bad singer: "I'd like to say that [groom] sings with lots of feeling. But let's be honest—if he had any feelings, he wouldn't sing at all."
If the groom's chatty: "[Groom] has the uncanny ability to talk for hours on any subject—and days if he actually knows anything about it."
Best Man Speech Examples
Here are a few sample best man speeches you can use as inspiration to create your own personalized 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 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!"
Heartfelt Best Man Speech
"In preparation for this day, I Googled 'heartfelt best man speech' and I found a website with thousands of different speech examples that I could pay to see. But I'm cheap, so I'm just winging it.
For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jim. I've known (groom) since we were freshmen at USC. We were roommates and the thing I remember most about (groom) was this giant Styx poster he put up in the room.
Seriously, who was into Styx in 2006? Anyway, once I got over my embarrassment about having that ridiculous poster in my dorm room, and I got to know (groom), I realized he's a pretty great guy.
He let me have his $300 chemistry textbook. He drove four hours to help me move into my apartment. He never murdered me in my sleep because of my terrible snoring.
And (spouse). You've become an irreplaceable friend too. (Spouse), thank you for rescuing me when I got a flat tire and for going to the chili place with (groom) and me a million times even though you're a vegetarian. You're the best.
Really, you two are the best friends I could ask for. And, more importantly, you're the best together. You deserve all the happiness in the world.
May your marriage be filled with laughter and love. And may this be just the beginning of a great romance. I hope I did okay winging it.
Here's to the newlyweds. Cheers!"
Need a little toast inspiration? Check out our no-fail wedding toast quotes to get started.