How to write a best man speech
The best man’s speech is a great honour but mostly no one really wants to do it. Of all the Wedding Day duties, it has the most pressure. Every eye will be on you, and more importantly their ears. There is a mild sense of relief being a groomsman for those that are not natural entertainers, as it is as highly anticipated as the first dance and throwing the bouquet.
The wittiest ones among us revel at the challenge that is delivering a best man speech. What is daunting for even the greatest orators, is that there are no retakes. You have to get it right the first time, the only shot at doing your best friend proud.
I have been in the audience to hear some of the worst best-man speeches you can imagine. By the same token, I have seen some memorable and funny best man speeches too. The key is definitely confidence and a good balance of stories and jokes.
First things first. You need to remember, this is not your day. This is not about you, this is about the Bride and Groom. Yes, the expectation will be a rip-roaring gag-fest. But this is not an open-mike comedy opportunity, you are a wedding ceremony participant. We also want to make sure the bride lets you see the groom afterwards.
Just be thankful, the Bride-Knights role in medieval times was to kidnap the bride. So having to address a crowd with a short speech and the best man’s toast to finish is easy by comparison.
One thing that the good ones have in common is that they are all spoken from the heart, yet prepared in advance. This post will give you a best man speech template to help you write your speech and deliver it perfectly. It is often easier to deliver speeches when they are well structured with a natural pace and segmentation.
Remember the key is a slow pace of speech. There is no point penning gold, then rushing it so no one hears it. Delivery is the most important vehicle of every joke. But there is more to it than just jokes, what needs to be in a best man speech? Find out below.
When is the best man speech?
The traditional wedding speech order matters at the wedding reception. This will be an emotional rollercoaster and the best man always goes last to end on a high.
Firstly it’s the Father of the Bride. Typically this is about the love a father has for his daughter. It will have the occasional joke, but mostly be a heartfelt declaration of lifetime adulation.
Then the Groom is up, which is in effect a very long thank you to everyone for coming. Modern times have seen the bride follow the Groom or they may do this together as it involves giving out wedding thank you gifts to show their appreciation.
Also, a newer phenomenon is the Chief Bridesmaid or Maid of Honour speech after this. The alternative to the Best Man, but for the Bride. This has disrupted the natural flow as often has jokes but is a bit more emotional than the guys will normally do.
But crucially, jokes and stories, like when they first started dating can get covered and throw things out a bit. Ultimately, be prepared for last-minute changes. Where possible, ask at the rehearsal dinner if this is coming and try to see a copy of the bridesmaid’s speech beforehand and maybe check in with other members of the wedding party.
Finally, be aware you might be a long way into the speeches for the audience who might be growing tired by the time you step up. An energiser opening may be required, so consider some killer best man speech opening lines.
Best man speech ideas
The best place to start is always by considering some proven best man speech examples. While it is great to try out your own brand of wit and a funny story, this may not be the right platform for it. We have one take to get this right, so here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and follow the standard best man speech outline.
Get brownie points
To deliver an awesome best man speech, start off with a killer opening line or your standard “good evening ladies and gentlemen” and compliment the bride and bridesmaids how stunning they look. Thank the couple for having you on their special day and in their lives. Thank the Bride for trusting you to take the groom on his stag do, and promise to be there for them in life and on the dance floor.
As the best man, the wedding guests assume that your closeness to the groom gives you some personal insight that they may not have. No one else will be able to steal this thunder from you, only you will be privy to how he was before he met his betrothed. There is always comedy in youthful follies and plenty of funny stories. But just leave ex-girlfriends out of this part of it can very cringe.
But it’s not all embarrassing stories and poking fun. Brainstorm some stories that shine the groom in his finest light. What are the moments that you remember when you think of how amazing he is as a person? In each of these stories, you are looking for the heroic nature, as well as the humour to it. You are his wingman, you owe it to him to focus on what a great guy he is.
A story about the couple
How did you know she was the one for him? This is a winning formula for weddings. It is the sort of thing that people will go home and talk about. In some cases, it may not be the most obvious. When do you think you knew that this was the right woman for your friend?
Write down some bullet points of that story and deliver it to a test audience. This can be your own partner or some of your other friends. What you are looking to observe is their immediate response as you deliver each sentence. Take note of the key lines that they clearly enjoyed. Do the same for the ones that fall flat, and considering cutting them or delivering a different way.
At the end of it, ask for feedback. To ensure that they do not spare you in their critique, you want to ask the following:
- What did they enjoy the most about the story?
- What did they not like about the story?
- What did they like about your delivery? Was it too long and did you ramble?
- What could be improved about the delivery?
- If they could change anything about the story, what would it be?
Best man speech icebreaker
Wedding guests can be a hard audience to connect with. You have probably never met the bulk of them. Possibly the bride’s family and friends couldn’t care less about what you have to say. This puts you in a curious position. If your first few sentences are not quite right, you could lose the crowd for good. Here are some easy icebreakers and opening lines to get you started on the right foot.
And if it doesn’t work you have the ultimate salvage gag with “I said we should have had the speeches later when people were drunk”.
Give us a dance
I am an awful dancer, so this one is admittedly not for everyone. If you do have the moves, take advantage of that. Coming onto the stage with some smooth moves will quickly endear you to the crowd. It may not go so well if your moves aren’t as impressive. There is some comical value to it, which you can sell.
Much like a stand-up comedian, perhaps the easiest way to address any crowd at the wedding venue is to speak to them directly. “I was going to ask who looks better the men or women. Well, look at this lad over here.” The last bit of the statement is left to the crowd’s interpretation.
Another approach would be asking the crowd to “Clap for the bride.” “Scream for the groom.” Consider the audience that you are speaking to. This won’t be for everyone but might energise the crowd a bit.
If you are using props, this could be part of the big entrance, even covered up to create a sense of excitement and intrigue.
Best man speech structure
As funny and interesting as you may think you are. Speeches are hardly the highlight of a wedding. Getting the structure wrong could render a powerful speech useless. Here is a structure that is designed to avoid this issue.
We briefly looked at how easy it is to lose the audience. Having the right bait will help. You are looking to:
In order to intrigue, you must deliver an opening statement that silences the room. It does not have to be factual. “I flew for 25 hours, then drove for 8 hours to stand in front of you today.” Most people will want to hear what this man has to say.
To astound you want to speak against the grain. “When the Vicar said, or forever hold your peace, I held mine and thought I would get my chance during the speech.” This is an admittedly risky approach. It will certainly bait the crowd.
Unless you know the crowd, sexual jokes tend to be an area to avoid in best man speeches. Keep your jokes above the waist. You can refer to the groom’s appearance, seeing he is your friend. You may under no circumstances negatively comment on the bride’s looks or bring up ex-girlfriends. Any risky jokes should be directed at other guests, preferably those that you have a good rapport with.
There are plenty of funny best man speech jokes available if you research. You can use props to be unique and make it memorable. A cardboard cut out of the groom as a young man might be a great visual comedy and also lead nicely into a story, while opening up a world that no-one really knows.
Most of us go to weddings for the heart-warming feeling that they give us. Seeing two people that are hopelessly in love appeals to the core of our beings. Again, this can be a story from your days as single men, about your bromance and things you got up to.
If you are going to take that route, be sure to leave out any females who could have been in the bride’s position. Just talk about how “funny”, “silly”, “charming, “caring” or indeed “daring” your mate is.
The last bit of your speech should refer to why you think that these two make a dashing couple. How is it that they complement one another? Take your time to consider this one. Once you are done, invite all of the guests to raise a glass to the “Bride and Groom.”
Best man speech jokes
There isn’t much of a formula for this part. The only advice I would give you is to ensure that they are not ones that everyone has heard before. You don’t want other guests to finish off jokes for you. Although some of the classics and one liners are repeated for a reason.
The best joke at one of the many weddings I’ve been to was delivered to perfection in an emotional Father of the Bride speech. Playing the confused and forgetful angle, he mentioned that the Bride was off to Wales for the Honeymoon. After she corrected him he acted even more confused, and followed up that he was sure he overheard the Groom telling the Best Man “he was going to Bangor all weekend”. The delivery was so perfect even for an often repeated joke that it took a few seconds to drop.
Anyway, here are some of our favourites:
- To prepare for this speech, I Googled the perfect best man speech. Unfortunately, you had to pay to read them, so I decided to wing it instead.
- It was a toss up between [Groomsman] and I who did the speech. As you can see I lost.
- We all know the bride deserves the perfect guy. Well, it’s too bad that you don’t always get what you deserve.
- Did you hear the one about the best man who didn’t end up with the best woman? Well, my friend gets the best woman today.
- I’m very happy to be part of the only 5 minutes that the Bride didn’t plan out meticulously.
- I’ve just been asked not to cover any embarrassing stories about the groom, so there goes most of my speech. Thanks for coming everyone.
- “I was told the speech should be like the grooms performance in bed, so get ready for a let down.”
- Thanks for coming as it wouldn’t be the same without you. Probably be a lot cheaper though.”
- The Groom and I met at uni, when he came into a party wearing nothing but cling film pants. And I thought, “well I can clearly see your nuts.”.
- Before the Bride met the Groom, he had hit Dwayne’s Johnsons behind. Yes, he had officially hit rock’s bottom.
Context and pace is everything. Make sure you get the message across as clearly as possible without rushing or the jokes will be lost.
Best man speech tips
- Practise in front of a mirror, in particular in speaking loudly and clearly.
- Have note cards with just prompts on them. If you are reading from the full written version you will naturally be projecting your voice downwards.
- Record yourself and watch it back. The ideal speaking speed is 140 -160 words per minute.
- Give a test audience a rundown of the risque jokes in advance. You might think your stories are hilarious, but the Brides friends and family might not agree.
- Find out who is doing the speech before you, especially if it’s a bridesmaid as it will overlap. If you can see the content, even better.
- Know the venue. Will sound carry? Will you have a microphone?
- Don’t drink too much beforehand, it will not help
- Use cue cards with just topics on them to remind yourself of what you planned to say
- Speak to the whole audience, and aim for the back tables.
- If you are feeling nervous, then consider playing this into your speech. Something like “Good evening ladies and Gentlemen, compliment the bride and smile at groom. oh wait, sorry. [Bride] you look amazing, doesn’t she [Groom].” Confronting your nerves head-on will at least take off the pressure.
Here’s to your wonderful best man speech!