Best Man Speech Tips, Tricks and Cheats

Write and deliver the perfect best man speech with this foolproof advice.
by Elena Donovan Mauer
bride and groom toasting
photo by Chaz Cruz Photographer

So you're the best man. It's a pretty good feeling when one of your friends or relatives deems you their right-hand guy. But lurking beyond the fun and harmless stuff—bachelor parties and dancing with the maid of honor, to name a couple—is your final big 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 do it!), you're going to want to boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by preparing well.

Best Man Speech Tips

There are a few great best man speech tips that boost your odds of success, says Dominic Bliss, wedding writer and author of Being the Best Man for Dummies.

  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. “Kick off with a killer opening line," Bliss says. Get everyone's attention and set the mood with a great one-liner joke to start your speech.
  3. Make jokes about the groom but not the bride. 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. “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. Nerves can mess with your memory! Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper, since they “won't flap around."
  6. “Vary the pace and tone of your 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 keeps a speech interesting and strikes 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!
  8. Have a plan B. “If you feel your speech flagging, just turn toward the bride and announce loudly, 'Doesn't she look beautiful?!' 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

  • Have a killer opening line.
  • Thank the other speakers.
  • Congratulate the wedding couple.
  • Compliment the bride.
  • 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 about five minutes or less[EM3]. This is enough time to say something meaningful but not so long that your audience gets antsy. Of course, you also should adjust your speech length to the event. Bliss points out that a quickie Vegas wedding might call for a more brief speech, while at an all-day formal affair, you might be expected to speak for longer.

What To Avoid

There are a few topics to omit from your 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.
  • Ex-girlfriends or boyfriends.
  • Previous marriages/divorces.
  • Drinks, drugs, gambling, STDs.
  • “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, think hard about the groom's personality and times you've shared with him. Would he mind it if you make fun of him a little, or is he more serious or shy? 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 make a funny best man speech, consider poking some kind fun at the groom. “Every groom will have some funny characteristic or quirk you can ridicule," Bliss says. “As long as it's something that 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."

For example:

If the groom is 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 is 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 is 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 Michael (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.

Michael and Chrissy (bride) 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] ...Michael 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.

Chrissy, 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 Sam and me in middle school. Find joy in each other, and have a lifetime of happiness together. Let's toast the bride and groom!

Short Best Man Speech

As the poet Dante once said, “A great flame follows a little spark." When Matt (groom) met Sarah (bride), there was a little spark. I know because I talked to him the next day.

From the way he talked about her, this girl he chatted up at a party, I could tell this spark was something special.

You two are great together. May the flame burn long—and may sparks continue to fly.

To the bride and groom. 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. Mom and Dad 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 Beth.

Beth, you look beautiful 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 bride and groom!

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 Rich (groom) since we were freshmen at USC. We were roommates and the thing I remember most about Rich 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 Rich, 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 Janet (bride). She's become a good friend too. Janet, thank you for rescuing me when I got a flat tire and for going to the chili place with Rich and me a million times even though you're a vegetarian. You're the best. And for introducing me to all the bridesmaids. Oh wait, you still need to do that.

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 bride and groom. Cheers!

Need a little toast inspo? Check out our no-fail wedding toast quotes here!

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