Whether you’re standing up for your brother, cousin or best friend, being the best man is always an honor. The first thing that may come to mind when thinking about your best man duties is planning a bachelor party the groom will never forget. But it’s your best man’s speech that is, by far, your most important task.
The perfect best man speech will not only talk about what makes the groom such an amazing guy, it will grab and hold the attention of the audience. It may bring about some laughter or maybe even a few tears depending on the style of speech you choose. But here’s the kicker: you have to accomplish all of that in three minutes or less.
We get it, it sounds like a pretty tall order and not everyone is a gifted speech writer. If you find the idea of writing a best man speech that does the groom justice to be rather unnerving, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide not only walks you through the ins and outs of best man speech writing, we’ve even penned some great examples for your inspiration.
How to Write and Deliver a Great Best Man Speech
Whether this is your first wedding speech or you’ve done this before, our list can help you write a tribute to the groom that he and all of his wedding guests will appreciate. Here are the 12 main points to keep in mind when writing your best man speech.
Writing doesn’t come easily to everyone. And that’s OK. One of the best ways to get rid of writer’s block is to brainstorm ideas. Start by making a point form list of some of the best memories you have of the groom. From there, consider which two stories would be easiest to relate in front of a crowd and get started on adding supporting details to flesh out your ideas.
Once you start adding to your story ideas, you may find that two is too many. If your speech is getting too long, choose your best tale and make it the centerpiece of your speech. It’s always better to have your speech be a bit short than way too long if you want to hold the attention of the audience.
If brainstorming isn’t coming easily, think about your memories of the groom or the couple. What comes to mind? Which memories make you smile or laugh? Which memories make you feel emotional? Once you’ve made a list, choose the best one or two to base your speech on.
2. Keep your speech concise
Have you ever been to a wedding or other type of an event where you had to sit through a never-ending speech? Keep that in mind when crafting your own.
The truth of the matter is, the guests are far more interested in their meal or getting out on the dance floor than in listening to people wax poetic. No matter how funny or fascinating your speech is, people will tune you out if you talk for too long.
The ideal wedding speech comes in at three minutes or less. Keeping your speech between two and three minutes is best for audience engagement.
3. Talk about the groom and his new bride
Whether the groom is your brother, cousin or best friend, you are likely one of the people who knows him best, so find a story to tell about him that really describes him well.
You’ve likely also noticed how his love interest has impacted his life. You can start your speech by reminiscing about the groom before he met his spouse and then find a way to transition into talking about how the groom has changed for the better since meeting his sweetheart.
It could be that you’ve never seen the groom happier than he’s been since meeting his soulmate. Perhaps his new spouse helped him to realize a lifelong dream or to find a new passion. Whatever you choose, it’s a simple way to integrate the groom’s new spouse into the speech while still making it mostly about him.
4. Don’t talk about yourself
It can be really easy to fall into the trap of telling stories where you and the groom are in the starring roles. The night is not about your bro-mance, however. It’s all about the groom and the love of his life, so do your best to keep yourself out of the story whenever possible.
After introducing yourself and explaining your relationship to the groom, reference yourself as little as possible. The goal is to talk about why the groom — and his new spouse — are so great.
5. Never talk about exes
One of the biggest foot-in-mouth moments you could have during your speech is to bring up any of the groom’s past romantic relationships. Talking about exes in front of the groom’s family, friends and new spouse is a bad idea, even if it does involve a funny anecdote. Instead, stick to stories that only involve friends, family or the new spouse. That way you won’t upset the groom or make anyone feel awkward.
6. Avoid inside jokes
As funny as an inside joke might be to you and the groom, it won’t translate well into your speech. If the wedding guests don’t know what you’re talking about, they will stop listening pretty fast.
7. Be funny (in moderation)
All too often, the best man treats his speech like a stand-up comedy routine. Unless you’re actually a comedian, this approach is a huge mistake. While reminiscing about something funny that happened to you and the groom can work well in a speech, keep jokes to a minimum.
It’s also important to choose anecdotes that are appropriate for your audience. If children are in attendance or elderly relatives are there, telling a story about your pal mooning the principal or streaking at a football game isn’t advisable. In general, keeping drunken stunts out of your speech is your best bet to keep from embarrassing the groom in front of his parents and new in-laws.
While going for a laugh is great, you don’t want to have a ton of jokes at the groom’s expense. Roasts at a wedding are always in poor taste.
Pro tip: No matter who is in the audience, do not curse during your speech, even if it is part of a joke. There is no place for vulgar language at a wedding.
8. Don’t be afraid to show emotion
Men are often taught to keep their emotions in check by cracking jokes or avoiding emotional topics all together. But if you truly want to hit the ball out of the park with your best man’s speech, don’t be afraid to show some emotion.
Whether you tell the groom how proud you are of him for not only finding success in life, but true love with an amazing person or talk about how wonderful it was for you as a best friend to watch the groom fall in love with his soulmate, it is those types of comments that will not only touch the hearts of the newlyweds, but of all the people in attendance.
9. Try to use a common theme
Finding a theme to use for your speech is a great way to keep it cohesive and easy-to-follow. Think about the best qualities the groom possesses and then choose one characteristic to craft a speech around.
Maybe you’ll want to talk about how reliable the groom is or about his great sense of humor or his empathy for others. Whatever trait you choose, find a way to tie it all together.
If you decide to talk about how funny the groom is, find a way to bring his love interest into the speech on that same topic. Perhaps you can talk about the groom winning his love’s heart with his sense of humor or how she laughs at every single one of his jokes — even when they’re not funny. By sticking to an underlying theme, it will make your speech both enjoyable and easy to follow.
10. Don’t talk too fast
If you don’t like talking in front of a crowd, it can be tempting to try to give your speech as quickly as possible. Talking too fast, however, will make the speech awkward both for you and your audience.
If you’re nervous, take a deep breath and then do your best to speak at a normal conversational pace. Don’t forget to pause in specific spots to allow the guests time to react. If you share a funny story and don’t pause at the punchline, people won’t have a chance to laugh and will be less engaged for the remainder of your speech.
11. Practice makes perfect
Even if you are comfortable talking in front of people, practice is still essential for a successful speech. Rehearsing beforehand isn’t about memorizing lines, rather it’s about ensuring a smooth delivery at the wedding.
So, how many times do you need to practice? Most experts suggest rehearsing until giving the speech comes easily. For some people that might be seven times, for others 10 or more. When your speech flows out of you naturally, you’ll know you’re ready.
Start by practicing in front of friends to see if they get your jokes. It can also help to give your speech in front of the mirror and to record yourself to get the pace and body language down.
Pro tip: A huge part of making a successful speech is being sober, so make sure you don’t drink very much before the toasts begin.
12. Introduce the next speaker
In general, the best man’s speech comes after the host welcomes the guests and is followed by the maid of honor’s tribute to the bride. It’s a good idea to check with the groom to see what order the speeches will be given.
If someone is speaking after you, announcing that person when your speech has concluded helps for a more seamless transition between speakers.