Congratulations on being the best man! You now have one of the most important responsibilities when it comes to your best bud’s wedding. No, we’re not talking about planning the bachelor party. You must give a memorable best man speech that is both funny and heartfelt. No big deal. You got this. It will only set the tone for the wedding prior to dinner and put a spotlight on you in front of every guest. If you nail it, you will bask in the everlasting glory of being THAT eloquent and charismatic friend of the groom. It’s a small prestigious club that few people make it into. To help, The Groomsman Suit team has enlisted Terry Schilling, recent groom and men’s lifestyle guru, and David Rothstein, owner of one of Chicago’s best music and entertainment companies. Each has provided tips for writing an amazing best man speech that will become a fond memory for the married couple.
Table of Contents
- 1 Keys To A Great Best Man Speech
- 2 Best Man Speech Outline: Content & Structure
- 3 The Do’s and Don’t’s of a Best Man Speech
- 4 Topics That You Should Avoid
- 5 End With A Sentimental Toast
- 6 Remember more toast than roast.
- 7 How to deal with sombre stories and anecdotes
- 8 Here are some more top tips for a great speech…
- 9 What we recommend
Keys To A Great Best Man Speech
If you’re looking for a best man speech outline, these five keys will get you on the right track. At a minimum, remember these five things then read on for more details on each topic.
- Preparation – write down relevant points to your speech weeks or months in advance
- Killer Opening Lines & Introduction – open with a joke or anecdote to help put everyone at ease and make sure you smile. Attendees will take their cues from you.
- Content is King – make your content short but sweet. Include personal stories of the groom and his bride. How they met and how the bride has changed the groom’s life is a good start.
- Body Language – you will be saying more with how you say it than what you say. A smile and good posture go a long way. Use gestures and add texture to your speech by not speaking in a monotone.
- Timing – five minutes is long enough. Say what you have to say clearly and concisely then keep the party going by letting others speak.
Best Man Speech Outline: Content & Structure
Bear in mind that you only have ten minutes tops before you bore people to death so keep your speech short and sweet but with substance.
What grabbed your attention in your favorite movie? Book? Probably the fact that it was organized in a way that the human mind is meant to follow stories: through the dramatic structure. The human mind is wired to follow an attention-grabbing intro, rising action, climax, falling action.
By building your speech up, your audience will wonder where the speech is going to go and what the next bit will be about. This will not only keep their attention engaged but also provide focus to your speech as well. You don’t want to go off on a tangent and waste people’s time.
By having the dramatic structure to follow, you’ll give your speech a purpose and strap people in on a nice ride about the groom and bride.
You can focus on telling how you know the groom or the couple and if you know the story, relay how they met. The groom’s struggles to get the bride to be his girlfriend may be interesting, too.
Additionally, you can pitch in some sound advice or your best wishes for their marriage. Finally, you can finish it off by wishing them long and prosperous lives together.
Standing in one position without any gestures is not visually appealing; that’s you being stiff. So you’ll want to use gestures to illuminate your speech. Engage in voice variation to give your speech some richness and to keep your audience engaged.
It’s proven that monotones bore the brain and make people tune out. For the love of anything holy, don’t make your best friend’s wedding a snooze to remember.
If you have space, move around and take advantage of this situation. Smile and use your facial expressions wisely. It sounds complicated, but it’s really simple especially if you have champagne in one hand and a mic in the other.
There are many guides dedicated to educating men on how to give a best man speech, and the one thing they all agree on is that timing is everything.
Remember, the goal is to keep your speech short and sweet as this is essential to keep your audience interested until the end. You want to get the message across in the shortest time possible.
A five-minute speech is more than adequate. If you feel that you have a lot to say, you have around ten minutes maximum. Be careful not to drag your speech out and go out of context. Nobody likes a blabbering man whose words have no form.
The Do’s and Don’t’s of a Best Man Speech
- Please make certain that your speech has a flow to it. Choppy best man speeches make for very awkward reads.
- You want to attract people with positive vibes that are pouring out from you. It’s a wedding after all.
- Thank those who were able to make it to the wedding.
- Cite some personal stories in your speech. This makes the crowd feel closer to the couple and lets them understand the couple’s journey.
- Compliment the bride and the groom. Do remember the parents as well since without them there wouldn’t be people to wed.
- Ask everybody to help you toast to the couple’s marriage. This is a sign of good wishes and tiding to the newlyweds.
- Break the ice and catch everybody’s attention with a subtle, harmless joke.
- If you are reading from a card, raise your head frequently to engage with the audience.
- Make eye contact with people in the crowd. Avoid looking at the floor or on a specific place or person for too long.
- Get too intoxicated. You don’t want to be remembered as the slobbering drunk at your friend’s wedding.
- Use inside jokes. It leaves people feeling left out, causing their attention to shift.
- Bring up the past. Uncovering past relationships may cause problems between the newlyweds.
- Use curse words. Adult content and insults should be avoided at all times.
- We all get nervous sometimes, but this is one of the events where you should be enjoying yourself. Don’t overthink your speech; the audience will most likely be your friends or relatives, anyway.
- Stop if you flub your words. Repeat: do not stop your speech no matter how bad you think you’re doing! More likely than not, your audience will want you to pick back up and keep going with your speech. The only person putting on the pressure is you, so take it easy.
- Bring up any negative connotations about marriage and women. You need not rain on someone’s parade.
- Say too many “ums.” Because it’s just a verbal filler, it adds nothing to the speech and can get quite annoying after a while. If you can’t think of anything to say for a second, a pause will keep people engaged while you gather your thoughts. Remember, you are best friends, so try to toast anything you have done together.
Topics That You Should Avoid
The goal is to bring the house down with a memorable best man speech and NOT because you offended people in the room. For this reason, there are some places you must not go. As a recent groom, Terry explains, “You may think it’s funny or that your friend will like it but remember, he’s in front of family and close friends, grandparents, and kids. Don’t make peoples’ jaw drop for the wrong reasons.” Here is his list of subjects to avoid and things not to do:
- Don’t talk about sex or hooking up. If you do, expect the bride’s father to pull you aside later.
- Don’t talk negatively about love or marriage. A wedding is about celebrating that, don’t be a buzzkill.
- Don’t get drunk. You won’t be taken seriously if you sway back and forth or slur your words.
- Don’t bring up exes. No further explanation needed.
- Don’t tell an embarrassing story that involves sex, drugs, alcohol or anything inappropriate.
- Don’t make fun of the bride or anyone in her family.
End With A Sentimental Toast
All great speeches have one thing in common, a strong ending. “This is your moment to bring it all together, and it should begin by asking everyone to raise their glasses.” Terry adds, “It’s the perfect moment offer a love quote. If there’s a little humour that’s fine.” Recap how special of a day this is, how lucky the two are to find each other, and end with a blessing of love, laughter, and happiness for a lifetime.
And there you have it—an excellent best man speech. Don’t be afraid to write down key parts of your speech to reference while you’re talking. Nobody expects you to have it memorized word for word. Just make sure you practice it enough to avoid reading from your notes the whole time. Be confident, have a great opening line, and wrap it up with a loving nod to the couple. Remember, you are the best man for this job!
Remember more toast than roast.
“It about remembers that this is your mate; someone you’ve known for a long time,” Anita says. “So yes it’s your time to make jokes and give him a roast, but again, he’s your friend, who’s just gotten married, so I encourage people to have a think about their friendship over the years and about what makes him a great guy because that sort of thing is important to communicate.”
That’s not to say there’s no room for anecdotes, just not too many – and absolutely none involving ex-girlfriends or adventures best savoured on a boy’s night out.
“I always recommend people don’t go overboard in choosing stories and anecdotes,” Anita says. “They shouldn’t be too in-jokey or cliquey; everyone needs to be able to appreciate the story, and there shouldn’t be too many of them. Even if you’re wildly entertaining, one or two good stories told well are much better than five mediocre ones that go on and on.”
How to deal with sombre stories and anecdotes
The balance should similarly be applied if there’s a sad matter to note. “For example, if the bride’s mother has passed away, the groom can acknowledge the loss and absence, but then look to move forward in a slightly uplifting way, for example: ‘Thank you all for coming and sharing this special day; (name) couldn’t be here with us today, but if she was I’m sure she would be proud of her daughter. I know I am proud to be her husband.’”
Here are some more top tips for a great speech…
- Take a sip of water before you pick up the microphone to banish dry mouth syndrome.
- As you begin speaking, make eye contact with people in the audience, you know, so it becomes less a room filled with a rough sea of faces and more a gathering of people you know.
- Smile to cover up any awkward or nervous moments, or if you feel your voice begin to quiver.
- Make a conscious effort to speak slowly and breathe, as nothing gives away nerves like someone who adopts a monotone and crams what should be a five-minute speech into three minutes.
- If you have a terrible memory or aren’t confident at ad-libbing, make yourself up some cue cards or even write your entire speech on paper. No one will think anything of it, and it will help to ensure you entirely pull off an address you went to so much trouble to have professionally crafted.
What we recommend
The main thing to remember is practice, practice, practice. Don’t just write your speech down, read it aloud more than once to make sure you don’t stumble over any clunky or awkward-sounding words on the day. You don’t have to have the speech fully memorised word for word, but having an idea of what’s coming next will help you feel and appear more confident in front of the guests. And make sure you bring palm cards to the gig – if your nerves do kick in on the day, the palm cards will help remind you what you’re talking about.
If you can, perform your speech to a third party at least a week before the wedding. If they have any tweaks or suggestions, you’ll have enough time to amend the script to ensure it’s perfect. Your pre-audience will let you know if you mumble, if it’s drawing on for too long or if you include anecdotes that don’t belong in a best man speech. If they do bring up any concerns – listen to them. It might all sound good in your head, but you’re not the one it’s being performed to.
And finally, have a plan B. If you sense you’re losing the attention of your audience, or the guests seem keen to get back to the party, bring attention back to the bride by saying ‘Doesn’t she look beautiful?’. However, don’t do this too much – guests might think you wish you were in the groom’s place!