Best Man Wedding Speeches Are Scary
What the world needs now is more touching and emotional best man speeches, so today we’re going to address the dos and don’ts of the best man speech. We all know that this toast has its own particular way of sometimes going… off the rails.
If you’re reading this article, it means that you’re in (hopefully not desperate) need of some sound advice. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Below, we take a look at the importance of writing a brilliant best man speech and give you some tips and tricks to write an unforgettable tribute to the bride and groom, which is precisely your duty.
Understanding the Best Man Speech
Remembering back to Vogue Ballroom's own wedding, the best man delivered a speech that was all things to everyone. And your speech can be just as memorable.
As the best man, your speech should be light-hearted and should involve a short tribute and a toast. Of course, you shouldn’t forget about the verbal assassination with your words at the groom’s expense! This is your actual modus operandi. You can go about this task with the help of some entertaining stories, by pulling out killer one-liners or just use the odd sprinkling of sentiment before ending things off with a brilliant closing summation.
All in all, you should make the groom feel on top of the world. And, the audience should be left laughing, crying, or both!
1. Prepare in advance
Preparation is the key to success with any good speech.
I would suggest writing your speech at least two weeks in advance. A first draft needs revisions, and two weeks allows you time to add, remove, and modify critical areas. Also, you can practice your speech and let it sink in well before the time comes to stand up and deliver the speech.
You need to actually put pen to paper and write out a draft speech. Just walking into the reception, thinking you’ll come up with all the right things to stay when you’re up on the stage is a guaranteed way to fail. Trust me, I know from experience.
Brainstorm ideas, penning all the reasons why you think your mate is great, and why his wife should feel blessed to have him as her husband.
You are there to make the bride and groom look good, so make sure you do just that.
2. Use an opening line that expresses gratitude
Start your speech off by thanking everyone that helped to make the wedding day possible. Focus on the bride and groom’s mom and dad and toast to them — not only for funding a wedding (if in fact, they did) but also for raising two great people.
3. Be personal, but be appropriate.
You may not have the kind of friendship where you sit and have long talks about how much you love each other. (I know very few men with friendships like this.) So this may be your one chance to let your friend know how much you really care about them. It’s socially sanctioned, and the crowd will eat it up. So get your love for your best friend, brother, chess partner, or just all around great friend on paper, and speak your feelings. This one, at least.
4. Do not make jokes in dubious taste.
Best man speeches that are offensive, controversial, or embarrassing never go down well. Unless you want to make an absolute ignoramus of yourself, we suggest you avoid the idea of using embarrassment or the use of lame jokes to crack a few awkward smiles in the room. While it’s perfectly acceptable to use humorous anecdote, you should never embarrass your friend or his new wife.
This is obvious, right? In fact, maybe don’t make any jokes that aren’t just a way of saying, “I love you and your partner,” particularly if you don’t know exactly how the joke will land.
For example, a broad joke at the expense of your friend is probably fine (“We all know Chris loves his board games, so it’s a testament to how great Michelle is that you are not listening to me give a toast congratulating Chris and his board games on a happy life together”), but a particular joke that no one else will get is not okay, particularly if it isn’t clean as a whistle. (“Well, there was this one time we got stoned and decided to drive a car, and we accidentally drove it into a wall. But getting married to Cindy is a way better choice than driving a car into a wall, so I think this will probably end up fine.”)
5. Connect to the audience with a story
Try to use a story about you and your mate and link that to your support for the couple. You could mention how you would always hang out playing video games with your buddy. When you first spent time with him and his girlfriend back when they met (not playing video games!), you could see that your friend had found his soulmate. Your goal is to tell the audience about how you feel like the bride and groom are the perfect matches, so try to use stories to convey your message.
It doesn’t have to be long or even poetic, and it doesn’t have to be funny, but at this point in the wedding, people are usually ready to tuck in and listen to something. Something nice. Talk about playing soccer or Mario Kart together as kids, talk about hanging out at a bar together in college (but DO NOT talk about the time you hung out at a strip club). Then, for bonus points, parlay that tale into a similar story about the couple that reinforces why they’re a great fit.
6. Do not ignore your friend’s partner.
If you know and love your friend’s partner, lay it on thick. Realistically, this may be the only time you ever tell them how much you care about them. But if you don’t know them that well (or like them that much—hey, it happens) just talk about how happy they make your friend, and leave it at that.
7. Do not be rude.
We all curse as much as the next sailor, but wedding toasts are generally not the place to drop the f-bomb. Mind your manners, even if you’ve had a drink already. Especially if you’ve had a drink already.
8. Do not mention
Ex-partners of either member of the couple, sex, the divorce rate, or kids the couple might have in the future (unless the couple is very open about definitely wanting to have them right away, or a bride is actually currently pregnant, see above).
9. Be thankful
Expressing gratitude toward the couple, their family, and anyone who helped make the wedding happen is always a good thing.
10. It’s not about you.
Sure, context is right (“I met Evan when we were in karate together…”) but keep it brief. And for goodness sakes, do not try to tell the story of your life, or your friend’s life, or your life together, while people start wondering if the bar is open for refills. Keep in mind, this speech isn’t about you, and it isn’t even just about your friend—really, it’s about the couple getting married.
11. Keep it short and sweet
There’s one universal truth that applies to 99% of wedding across the world: People get irritated with a rambling drunk that just doesn’t want to put the microphone down.
No one wants to listen to ten minutes of memories that they played no part in, video game references, or inside jokes. Two to five minutes is fine, but two minutes is better.
Keep in mind that the crowd was ready for cake when they started listening to the bride’s father deliver his speech, so they have zero patience with you. To keep them interested, make sure your speech is short, sweet, and to the point.
12. Try to memorize parts of your speech.
You don’t have to nail it, but make sure you’re orating, not just reading off a piece of paper, especially at the beginning—connecting with guests is critical.
13. End on a positive note.
It doesn’t have to be sugary sweet, but make sure you end on a healthy, happy note.