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How to write a best man’s speech

When your best friend or brother asks you to be a best man, it feels like an incredible honour. They’ve picked you over anyone else to help out on the most important day of their life, hoping you’ll plan an excellent stag do, assist on the day and perform a funny but meaningful speech. 

As with many best men, it’s likely that the speech is the part you’re most nervous about. It’s supposed to be notoriously funny, full of embarrassing stories and anecdotes, before finishing on a sweeter note. But if you’ve ever been to a wedding, the best man’s speech can take a joke too far, be performed by a very drunken best man or go on for too long. 

To help you avoid any speech faux pas, you can find our top 10 tips for preparing a best man speech below.  

1. Prepare

Some best men may consider ‘winging it’, standing up in front of hundreds of people with only a vague idea of what they’ll say. We’d advise against this, and instead ensure you’re prepared in advance. 

There are two ways you can prepare your speech.

The first is to write your speech out word for word so you can simply read it from a piece of paper on the day. This may help you to avoid any awkward pauses, or moments where you’re unsure of what to say next. If you choose to do this, just be sure to look up from your paper and make eye contact with the guests regularly to keep them engaged. 

The other way is to write a few key bullet points that you will use to structure your speech, but generally improvise the delivery on the day. The bullet points might be ‘Tell the story about…’ or ‘Explain how…’, for example, and you can expand on each point as you go. 

Whichever method you choose, think about what stories or jokes you might want to include in your speech. Common themes include stories about how you met the groom or how the groom met the bride. You may want to also include stories about you and the groom, including memories from school, university or work. While some embarrassing stories are a good idea, you always want to make the groom look good and also celebrate the couple’s relationship.

2. Stay sober

If you’re nervous, it’s very tempting to calm your nerves with a bit of Dutch courage. While alcohol may help to take the edge off, it can also make you less aware of your surroundings, more likely to say something inappropriate and even result in slurring your words. This kind of behaviour can be awkward for both guests and the bride and groom. 

One drink prior to your speech isn’t going to do any harm, but perhaps stay away from hard liquor or shots.

3. Open by expressing gratitude

There are a number of ways you can open your best man’s speech, but possibly the most respectful way of opening is by thanking certain members of the wedding party. While it’s the groom’s job to thank the venue, the caterer and the bridesmaids, you should be sure to thank all the guests for coming. You might also want to thank the bride and groom for hosting such a wonderful day. 

Other best man speech opening lines include: 

  • Joking about the groom’s excellent choice of best man
  • Proposing a toast and pulling out a piece of toast
  • Thanking the bride for letting you have your five minutes of fame
  • Quoting a meaningful song or piece of literature.

 

4. Tell a story–make a connection

A good best man’s speech involves telling a story and connecting it back to the couple and how good they are together. 

There are a few ways you can do this. First, you can joke about how your friend said he’d never find a partner who was funny, clever and beautiful, but that he found all three in his new wife/husband. Second, you can tell the story of when you first met their partner and decided they were a perfect match. 

Another idea is to explain how well the bride and groom balance each other out, perhaps finding some funny stories that demonstrate this perfectly (and not so perfectly, if he’s always hot and she’s always cold, for instance).

5. Avoid controversial topics

There are some topics that will certainly be off limits for a best man’s speech. Remember, the couple might have children and grandparents in attendance, so the stories you’d tell during your best man’s speech will be somewhat different to those told during the stag do. 

First, don’t make derogatory ‘ball and chain’ comments. The couple hasn’t even been married a day, and have just started out in their blissful wedding bubble, so it’s not time for these sorts of analogies yet. 

Next, avoid topics like the groom’s ex-girlfriends and anything that goes beyond innuendo. Some light innuendo is acceptable but perhaps avoid comments about the wedding night. 

Finally, don’t say anything negative about the wedding day, such as insulting the food or ceremony. This is common sense but it’s surprising how many best men take this route as a way of being funny.

6. Avoid inside jokes

Some inside jokes are acceptable, but avoid making the entire speech one big inside joke that no one else, besides the groom, will understand. You want to keep the guests’ attention so engage with them instead of pretending they aren’t there

7. Keep it short

The speeches are generally performed just before or during the wedding breakfast. This means time is getting on and guests are getting hungry. They don’t want to sit through hours of speeches, so aim to keep yours to just a few minutes. The groom and the bride’s father may also take a few minutes, so the speeches should last a total of about 20 minutes. 

So how long should a best man’s speech be? As the best man’s speech comes last in the ‘traditional’ order, short and sweet has never been truer. Five minutes or less would be perfect.

8. End with a quote

Many best men struggle to find a succinct way of wrapping their speech up. A quote is a great way to do this, so research some popular love quotes from movies, literature or songs. It would be even nicer if the source meant something to the couple.

9. Raise your glass and propose a toast

Don’t forget to finish your speech with a toast. You can ask all the guests in attendance to raise a glass to the happy couple.

10. Remember to be yourself

The most important thing about your speech is to remain yourself. In trying to be something you’re not or put on an elaborate performance, you may stumble or make mistakes. 

If in doubt, make statements that come from the heart and show your appreciation for the groom. Let the speech flow naturally using your own voice and mannerisms, avoiding a formal approach that may come across a little robotic and awkward.

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