Best Man Speech: The Definitive Guide to Smashing it
Posted on July 12 2019
Here’s all you need to deliver an incredible and unforgettable best man speech.
You’ve just been awarded the highest honor a bro can receive. You’re the best man! And that’s an honor greater than being knighted by the queen. But I’m sure you know what comes with it.
You’ll have to give that best man speech brosef!
Though, you won’t want to give just any speech off the top of your head that nobody is going to give a damn about.
Just remember what Uncle Ben said to Spidey, “With great power comes great responsibility”. It’s that serious, man.
You’ve probably seen best man speeches like this before. The guy stands up, hits the glass and says something, uninspired, about how he’s bros with the groom, congratulates the bride-to-be, and then sits down.
Or maybe you’ve seen another kind of speech, where the best man stands up and talks about nothing for 10+ minutes, putting you to sleep, because who even cares?
During a reception, there are about a million different things going on. People will forget the things that do not grab their attention, especially at a reception.
Everyone there is busy talking, eating, laughing, and will not care or even remember a boring speech in a few days. But not yours, my friend, you’re going to be the star of the day.
In this guide, we give you everything you need to know in sequence - from the writing process, all the way to delivering that wedding toast. Get your notepad ready for some very important tips on giving your wedding toast!
So How Do You Write the Best Man Speech?
The hardest part is always just getting started. Here are some basic tips on how to write a best man speech so that you can be prepared and dominate when the time comes.
Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
Practice makes perfect. Creating a fantastic speech doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’re going to wow the audience, you’ll need to make sure you’ve done everything you possibly can and covered every base - and man, that takes time.
Generally, 2-3 months is the right amount of time to give yourself when writing for a best man speech to account for the overall writing process and potential rewrites.
Considering all of the events that follow, like the bachelor party and the suit fitting, you’ll be too busy in those final moments to prepare a killer best man speech that’s even half decent.
Record Every Thought
You might be on the bus or in your car and think of an incredible quote or one-liner to say in your wedding toast, but our memories are very limited.
It’s difficult to remember what you even had for lunch two days ago, much less something you thought up some random time.
No matter where you are, record your thoughts. You could write in a journal, use your iPhone’s “Voice Memos” app or an app like Evernote. Scratch them onto a napkin, carve them into a stone near you, just get those wedding toast ideas down!
As long as you start capturing your thoughts, you’ll eventually reach a gold mine.
Think of this more as ‘capturing’ than ‘writing’. It’s easier to capture your raw best man speech ideas than banging your head on the wall trying to ‘write’ something from scratch.
Keep a Positive Tone
When it comes to the best man speech, the main thing to keep in mind is the goal of what you want to accomplish - celebrating the bride and groom. Here are some things to focus on:
- Your best experiences with the groom.
- How great a pair the bride and groom are.
- The best qualities of the groom.
- Possible first thoughts on the bride when they met (If they were good thoughts!)
Focus on the best of times, and further expand upon those points the best you can and maybe you can use those for a few wedding jokes!
With that in mind, here’s what not to say:
What Not to Talk About in Your Speech
While you may be writing to make your groom laugh, you need to remember your audience is diverse. You have children, elders, and teenagers so you wouldn’t want to write something inappropriate.
Generally, it’s best to avoid things like these:
- Any previous relationships.
- Anything about drugs, alcohol, gambling.
- Perverse topics, or anything of a sexual nature.
- Harsh negativity.
- Inside jokes that are too specific.
The idea is to avoid anything raunchy or disheartening during your speech, even if it might be hilarious in your head, you’ll have to avoid it in your best man speech.
Think about how upset Grandma would be if you happened to talk about how her little Jimmy actually hasn’t been saving himself for marriage - what horror!
How Long Should a Best Man Speech Be?
So you have a great speech, and you’ve covered every single talking point that fit. Everyone’s going to love this, right?
Wrong! When writing a best man speech, you’ll want to keep it way, way shorter.
The problem is that what you wrote is almost 30 minutes long! No bueno amigo. Nothing on this Earth could keep people engaged in a wedding toast that long.
You’re not going for a ‘F.D.R. Repairing the American Psyche During The Great Depression’ type of speech. What you want is more like an ‘I Love You, Man’ speech.
It seems like everyone from everywhere throws out an arbitrary number ranging from 1-10 minutes, but really, research shows our attention span is even shorter than a goldfish.
Which means you have 8 seconds to make an impression. Let that sink in.
The best man speech is usually between meals at a reception. That means you have to make your mark - and get in what you have to say in a short time. Meaning that short best man speeches are perfectly fine, you don’t have to overthink it.
It can be 1 minute, it can be 5 minutes. Keep the audience engaged in your speech and don’t ramble off unnecessarily.
How do you do that? Practice!
It’s All About Practice
You know, it’s okay to feel unsatisfied with what you wrote. After all, you’re not the most accomplished writer in the world. You just want to prepare a great best man speech and get back to Netflix binging.
The writing process can be tough, so here’s an ideal approach that most people use when writing the best material:
- Write a few pages of content just to get the speech ideas out.
- Realize that you’ve written a movie's worth of material.
- Take what you really like.
- Edit until you stop hating it.
Being intimidated serves no purpose.
Get Interviewed Bruh
If you’re not the best writer (or capturer), the previous steps might seem a little intimidating to you. That’s fine. Not everyone can put pen to paper as well as they’d like, and if that’s you, consider having a friend interview you!
Getting a friend or family member to interview you about your experiences with the groom is a great way of getting wedding speech ideas. Here are a few topics to get interviewed on:
- Where did you meet?
- Did you like each other at first?
- When did you become bros?
- What kind of crazy experiences did you have together?
- What kind of bad qualities does he have?
- What kind of good qualities does he have?
Answering these questions with a recording device can help you when you need to put the best man speech together, and you can recall things you might never have just by writing!
Be (Relatively) Sober
Even if you have a Wade Boggs alcohol tolerance, it’s best to keep the drinks to a minimum.
(The guy drank 64 beers on one cross country flight, what the hell?)
Having one or two drinks is fine if it helps calm the nerves, but any more will mess up any chance of giving a decent best man toast, and you’ll just look silly slurring your words or acting strangely. Remember, all eyes are on you during your best man speech.
Try Some Best Man Speech Jokes or Quotes
So suppose you’ve got your speech together, but you have a placeholder like:
[Put a joke in here!] in 3-4 spots, and you really have no idea what to put in there.
We got you covered.
Here are some best man speech opening lines you could work with and personalize for whatever you may need, because the opportunity for wedding jokes is a rare thing! These make great icebreakers to warm your audience up.
“Well, where do I even start? [Groom] is just incredible. He’s brilliant, funny, caring… Anyway, I can’t really read your handwriting [Groom], so just tell me whatever the rest was after.”
“[Bride], you really are an incredible woman. You deserve an absolutely incredible husband, so I’m not going to stop until I figure out what’s wrong here.”
“Thank you everyone for bearing with me, I Googled ‘best man speech jokes’ and every site asked for my credit card before showing me any examples, so here goes nothing.”
“I’m the last person to give a decent speech, I just found out what a toastmaster was and it’s not a revolutionary kitchen device.”
“For those of you who know the bride, she’s really a wonderful woman who deserves a wonderful man. So good job, [Groom], for marrying her before she found one.”
“For anyone who finds this speech particularly not funny, I got all of my jokes from [Groom] so please, blame that guy.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I wasn’t given a microphone tonight and I deeply apologize. To anyone in the back, If you hear silence at the front, be sure that you’re not missing anything.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, before I begin this speech I’d just like to say I am absolutely thrilled that I beat the bartender at rock-paper-scissors twenty minutes ago for the honor of best man.”
Putting Together a Best Man Speech Outline
Now that you have an idea of how to write a best man speech, it’s just as important to know how to structure it. While there are canned free best man speech templates out there, it's really best to get a bird's eye view on what you want to say and create a structure that works for you personally. Don't just take any random free speech template from online and fire it up. Not every outline or template will work for your needs, so get a good idea of your vision first then begin to structure it.
Flow matters, and it’s the most important thing in putting together great best man speeches. Without good flow, you’ll lose the crowd and people won’t follow what you’re saying.
Here are some great ideas to nail the best man speech structure and make your speech shine.
The introduction needs to serve a single purpose: Getting people engaged! This is the key aspect of any best man speech formula.
The One-Liner Approach
An incredible one-liner is a great way of getting started. A good idea for this would be to roast the groom a little bit, he probably wouldn’t mind.
For example, what faults does he have? You can take advantage of that to make slight jabs at him.
Or you can even make fun of yourself in the process, what do you both suck at? Maybe you want to talk about that awkward mullet phase you both had in high school. Live it up!
The Congratulatory Approach
Alternatively, you can open by showing gratitude to:
- The bride and groom, for bringing everyone together.
- The guests, for attending this incredible event.
- The parents of the bride and groom, for bringing them into this world.
This approach is a good option at the beginning. You can use it as a Plan B if you think you can’t gather an appropriate one-liner.
It’s easy to get lost in thought about what to follow up a good opener in a best man speech, but nothing is safer than a good story to engage your audience.
The idea is to create a connection to the groom and then present it to the guests.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Where you met the groom.
- What makes him a great guy.
- Crazy stories that show who he is.
- Why he’s an excellent fit for the bride.
- How he changed for the better after he met the bride.
Really, anything goes, and they’re all sure to keep people interested. Focus on the organic story of your friendship and don’t be robotic.
You’ll want to accomplish this in a way that stays kosher, though, avoiding unsavory details mentioned in our #4 tip.
Congratulate the Bride
So, you don’t have to do this, but we definitely encourage it. The issue is, not everyone really knows the bride. Honestly, maybe you met her a month ago, or a week ago.
Who knows, you could have met her literally just now. When your buddy gets hitched, it’s quite common to not really know the lady herself.
If this is true, you can handle this two ways:
Stick to something like:
“I knew she was a great fit for you the moment I saw you together”.
“She really is the perfect match for you dude.”
Sure the groom will know you barely know her, but whatever, if he really is your bro, he’ll appreciate that you’re saving face like this.
2. Avoid it.
Look, you’re the best man, it means the groom chose you, he knows you. Which means that he’s most likely expecting your best man speech to be about your experiences together, so keep the content focused around your relationship.
This means that it’s okay to avoid any mention of the bride after the first few words when writing a best man speech.
It works in most cases to just congratulate her in the intro, and then continue on with your speech avoiding her entirely.
This might sound a little underhanded, but it works, and most likely, the audience won’t notice.
If you know the bride, then speak about her.
If you’re just as close to the bride as you are to the groom, then you need to take all of the prior steps to make a compelling speech for the bride too, which won’t make the best man toast easy but hey, you don’t want to piss her off.
You could share a story about her too, or you can talk about one where the bride and groom shared with you, which is always a safe bet.
How to End Your Wedding Toast
Here’s where you wrap up your thoughts, and keep this part short, you don’t have to stress it too much.
It’s as easy as saying something like,
“Jack, Jill, to a lifetime of good health, love, and joy!”
There are a thousand different things you can say here, but the main idea is to keep the tone positive, upbeat, congratulate their love and wish the best for them.
NOTE: It is absolutely acceptable to keep a paper copy of your speech on hand because you’re not remembering your speeches like a world leader at the U.N. You’re just a guy who’s happy for his bro.
Best Man Speech Examples
Even if you have everything else down, it’s always best to have some speech examples of how to tackle your wedding toast.
People have done it before you, so why go in blind? Here are some different types of best man speeches for unique scenarios you may want to try for your best man toast.
Funny Best Man Speech (Example)
“Hello Everyone, I’m John, I’m the best man, and if you find this speech unfunny, [Groom] and I have the same sense of humor, so please blame him.
I’m just joking, of course, I promised [Groom] I wouldn’t roast him too much today or talk about anything too weird, so I’ll just talk about the good parts of his character...
...Thank you, everyone, have a great evening.
But really, [Groom] and I have been friends since before I knew how even to tie my own shoelaces. He’s a brother to me, even more than my actual brother, sometimes.
Emotional Best Man Speech (Example)
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m the best man, Chris. [Groom] and I go way back, all the way from high school. Through the years, he’s grown from a pain in the ass, into a fine man.
[Groom] was always shy when it came to meeting new people, and that’s sorta hard to hear considering how a guy like that could be such a perfect match with [Bride]. But I can’t imagine him without you, because I’ve seen what it looked like.
[Bride], you are both so dear to me, please take care of [Groom], please keep him out of trouble.”
Short Best Man Speech (Example)
“Good evening, everyone, from the moment that [Groom] met [Bride], I knew that this was going to be something special.
The way you two talk to each other, you’re so alike sometimes that honestly, it kind of scares me.
But to quote Mark Twain, ‘To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.’ May your love be timeless.”
Hopefully these wedding toast examples give you ideas on how to model your own best man speech!
The Presentation - Delivering the Best Man Speech
You have the writing and the flow down. Great! Most of the hard work is all done.
But don’t forget, you’re delivering a best man speech. And grand statements are always accompanied by excellent speech etiquette.
Here are some best man speech tips that’ll help you deliver, so that you don’t look like an uncomfortable 4th grader at a talent show your Mom forced you into.
Practice Your Speech on Camera
You’re noticing a trend, right? Practicing the actual delivery of the best man speech in front of a camera is a great way to see what poor and good habits you have.
And then, you need to keep practicing to eliminate the bad ones. For example, do you notice that you slump too much? Do you happen to mumble? Do you look down a lot?
Take note of all of these when you look at the recording and then try the speech again while mindfully avoiding bad habits and watching out for awkwardly delivered wedding jokes.
Practice in Front of People
Sure, using a camera is an excellent way to correct issues, but there’s nothing better than getting an outsider opinion.
Getting a spectator to sit and watch you deliver your best man toast lets someone tear into your bad habits without any bias. It may be painful, but this is what you want, and a larger group of people is best.
That way, when it’s time to give the best man speech, the concerns an audience member might have are already known to you.
The Honest Truth Man
Remember that a best man speech is a celebration of the love and joy that the bride and groom share. You don’t have to stress about every minor detail, because the audience isn’t (and they’ll most likely all be drunk anyway).
They’re already lightened up, and in the mood for a good few words, so why spend your time being nervous? It’s not worth it. Enjoy yourself up there and just deliver that crushing best man toast.
After it’s through, you can start drinking again, which is what you’ll probably want to do anyway.
Say what you have to say, and raise a toast to the bride and groom. Use this guide as a helpful resource and come back to it as many times as you need to ensure a totally awesome best man speech.