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 per cent of the population loves it, and about 10 per cent 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.
Being enlisted as a loved one’s best man is a big deal, and there are plenty of best man duties involved — including figuring out how to write a best man speech. Yes, it’s a tradition for the best man to give a speech during the reception, so it’s time to prepare to take on that responsibility. If you’re feeling a little nervous about giving a toast in front of a crowd, that’s understandable, especially if public speaking isn’t your forte. But with a little forethought and a lot of practice, you’ll be wowing the crowd with your best man speech in no time.
Ace your moment in the spotlight by following our guide to how to write a best man speech.
Plan out your best man speech ahead of time. Presuming you’re not reading this the night before the wedding, you should give yourself plenty of time—at least one month—to write your best man speech. The weeks leading up to the wedding, especially participating as such a crucial part of the wedding party, become hectic. With all of the events you’ll be encouraged or required to attend, you may very well lose sight of time. It’s better to think ahead, so you relieve some of the pressure.
Table of Contents
- 1 Start your best man toast by expressing gratitude
- 2 Then, talk about your relationship with the groom
- 3 Focus on the couple’s relationship, and not just your own
- 4 Finish your best man speech with congratulations and a toast
- 5 Keep your best man speech short
- 6 Practice, practice, practice
- 7 Write it down
- 8 Don’t drink beforehand
- 9 Best Man Speech Tips
- 10 How to Write a Best Man Speech
Start your best man toast by expressing gratitude
If you’re wondering how to write a best man speech, we recommend beginning every speech by introducing yourself, then expressing gratitude to those you think to deserve a special shout out. Thank the couple’s parents for raising such great people, thank your friend for having you here, thank the guests for coming, thank the bartender for providing beer. It’s a low-key way to ease yourself into the best man speech and make sure those who deserve thanks feel appreciated.
Then, talk about your relationship with the groom
Beyond introducing your name, a big part of how to write a best man speech is talking about your relationship with the groom. Talk about how you met him and what kind of guy he is. If you can think of an anecdote that sums up the kind of person he is, whether that’s charming, funny, or thoughtful, use it. But, if you’re going to use an anecdote, it will be more meaningful if you link it to his partner. For example, maybe he’s incredibly outgoing but forgetful. His new spouse is more thoughtful and organized. If you start with an anecdote of his forgetfulness and later follow up with a time you saw his partner’s organizational skills help him out big time, and that’s a moment you knew they were the real deal—that’s perfect.
Focus on the couple’s relationship, and not just your own
Presuming you’ve known the groom for longer than he knows his partner, you can start your best man toast by recalling the earlier times in your friendship but then skip ahead to when he met his partner. Think of a story that epitomizes their relationship. If you can talk about the time when you realized his partner was “the one” for your buddy, use that. Maybe your groom told you one week after meeting his partner that they were going to get married, and you thought he was bonkers, but here you are. Maybe you’ve known your groom for a long, long time – if you’re his brother, for example. You’ve probably always had an idea of what his perfect partner would look like – but the one sitting in front of you exceeds all expectations. Emphasize how happy you are for your pal that he’s found someone so perfect for him.
Finish your best man speech with congratulations and a toast
This is a foolproof way to end your best man speech. Congratulate the happy couple on their big day and offer a toast. The toast can be personal, witty, or quote. Perhaps there’s a line about love and relationships from one of the groom’s favourite comedians or movies that you can share, or simply wish the couple the best and ask your fellow guests to raise their glasses.
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Keep your best man speech short
Best man speeches typically follow the father-of-the-bride speech and the maid of honor’s toast. Your guests are restless at this point of the reception. People are anxious to eat, drink, and dance. Your best man speech should be between three and five minutes, and should not go longer than five minutes. Keep in mind that it will feel much shorter to you when you’re giving the speech – and you will likely rush in the spotlight. That’s why you must.
Practice, practice, practice
You have to – and we mean have to – practice your best man speech. You should give it a go at least three or four times before the actual reception. Whip out your phone and record yourself, then watch it for mistakes and things to improve. Not only is practice critical to giving the best performance, but it’ll improve your confidence by going up there. Dominic Bliss, the author of Being the Best Man for Dummies, suggests sending a video to a friend or relative who won’t be attending the wedding to give you honest feedback.
Write it down
You should try to memorize your best man toast as best you can, but you’ll feel less anxious if you have it written down. Practice it enough, so you don’t need to stare at the cards to know what you’re saying, but jotting down talking points is not a bad idea. Consider using notecards or small bound notepad because, well, the devil is in the details, and the photographer will be taking photos of you presenting your best man speech. Reading off a haphazardly torn piece of paper or while scrolling through your iPhone will look sloppy and indicate you didn’t prepare for the speech.
Don’t drink beforehand
Tip the bottle after you’re done delivering the best man speech. We appreciate and understand the temptation to calm your nerves, but drinking beyond a glass of champagne at dinner will only make things worse. Alcohol, paired with intense nerves or emotions, will only amplify them. You’ll be less likely to remember what you’ve planned and form cohesive thoughts. Just keep the pre-speech drinking to a minimum, okay? You’ll be great, we’re sure of it.
Best Man Speech Tips
Here are the best tips for creating, and delivering, the most epic best man toast of all time.
To learn more check out our post on Top 13 best man speech tips – How to write Wedding Speech
Consider your audience
You can’t nail a speech if you have no idea who to tailor the content to. Feel free to ask beforehand. When I was writing speeches for the president, we had a point of contact where the speech was happening to say who exactly is in the audience. You can do a smaller scale version of that. Your POC is probably your friend getting married. But the nice thing about giving a best man speech is that, ideally, it’s both specific to you and universal to the couple.
I would say almost never start with talking about how nervous you are. I’d also say just relax. That’s a hard thing to tell someone to do, but to put it differently: Remember, you’re not putting on a show. You’re simply talking about your best friend and the love of their life, two people that you’ve probably spent a lot of time with. In the end, it should just flow and come out easily. Litt suggests that you try to “imagine you’re just telling a story to a group of friends because really, you are.”
Stay true to yourself
Stick with who you are and how you would normally act around your friends. Don’t try to be funny if you’re usually not the comedian in the bunch, or super sentimental if you’re usually the more lighthearted friend. Your friends will be able to tell, and your toast won’t seem genuine in the end. You’re not performing. You’re there because you know someone and care about them, and you’re sharing that with a bunch of other people. Even a great best man speech is not supposed to steal the show. If somebody says, That speech was nice but almost forgettable because we were so focused on the bride and groom that’s a win. You don’t need to be the star.
Don’t rely solely on humour
While a few jokes sprinkled in can be a great tool for loosening up the crowd, don’t make these the meat of your toast—especially if comedy doesn’t come naturally to you. Let me put it this way—there’s such a thing as too many bad jokes, and that number is about one. The more you treat it as an open mic night, the less happy everyone involved is going to be. You don’t need to go in thinking, ‘How do I get invited back next week?
Keep things positive
I’ve seen best man speeches where someone thinks, ‘Oh, my job is to roast the groom. Unless the groom and the bride specifically told you that’s your job, that’s not your job. The way to think about jokes is that you don’t want people to be laughing at the groom or the couple. You want people to be laughing because they suddenly know the groom better than they did before.
Don’t upstage the newlyweds
Emphasizes that his previous boss (ahem, former President Obama) really enjoyed telling other people’s stories at speaking engagements, and this ultimately strengthened his messages. His speeches are not really about him. They’re about other people. And even if you don’t have the oratorical gifts of Obama, you can still follow that example: Focus on telling someone else’s story and making someone else look good, and of course, you’re going to look good in the process.”
Make sure it’s appropriate
My general rule for wedding speeches is: If you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this appropriate?’ it’s not. And if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t know, ask a friend. If they give you that slightly horrified look, listen to that look. Keep in mind that your audience will include guests of various generations and cultures and include people like your buddy’s grandparents, boss, and colleagues. Refrain from mentioning anything that you wouldn’t want your grandma or boss to know.
Get a second opinion
Remember: you’ll be delivering this toast in front of an audience (as if you could forget, right?). So it doesn’t hurt to get some feedback on what you’re planning on saying. If you’re the kind of person who has a track record of going a little too far with your surprises, you should be self-aware enough to run this by a third party—may be another close friend or a friend of the bride.
The best thing to do is practice with a friend. Anybody giving a big speech rehearses beforehand. If you’ve already gotten good feedback from field-testing your remarks with a smaller group, then you’re going to come out on the wedding day comfortably knowing you have a good speech. It’s that uncertainty that can be scary when you’re up there speaking.
Keep it short
I’ve never been to a wedding where anyone said, ‘That was a great wedding, but the best man speech was just too short and that ruined it.’ I would say five minutes is the absolute maximum. Three minutes is fine. There’s no question that if you’re reading this, you’ve sat through a speech that was too long. But when you start writing a speech, you almost never think, Is this going to be too long?
Limit your drinks
Being one drink in works for some people, but being more than one drink in is never a good idea. At that moment when you’re like, ‘You know what I need? Another couple of shots. That is never what you need.
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. 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” humour 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 humour will they enjoy?
Don’t try to be a stand-up comedian if it doesn’t come naturally. 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. 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 knows anything about it.”
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 before 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.