Speechwriting can be daunting, especially when it comes to the best man speech, i.e. often one of the most talked about moments of the day. Whether you’re the best man in question, or getting married and looking for something to give your best man a nudge in the right direction, our list of simple top tips will make sure your speech goes off without a hitch. For more inspiration, check out our wedding readings podcast episode, and article on funny wedding readings. If you’re giving a speech in an alternative wedding role, a lot of this advice will still apply, so stick with us!
WHAT IS A BEST MAN SPEECH?
Traditionally, the running order of speeches goes: father of the bride, groom, best man. However, as the Rock My Wedding saying goes: it’s your day, your way! You can throw this malecentric lineup out the window and have whoever you like speak at the reception. Rules were made to be broken, baby. We absolutely love a bride’s speech, and the rise in popularity of the best woman.
Ultimately, the best man speech serves to bring everyone together, tell the newlyweds’ epic love story and raise a final toast to their future. We recommend keeping it between 3-5 minutes long, but if public speaking isn’t your forte, there’s nothing wrong with making it short and sweet. So, without further ado, here are our top tips for writing a best man speech that everyone will love.
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First thing’s first: a massive thanks to the previous speaker and another round of applause, giving a wedding speech is no easy job! Before you begin your epic best man speech, you could also share any messages for the happy couple from those who couldn’t be there on the day.
When it comes to introducing yourself, people will always want to know how you came to be best mates with the groom. The goal is not just to give a cracking speech, but for the guests to connect with you too. First impressions are everything, so we’d advise pacing yourself on the bubbly ahead of your speech to avoid any mishaps. You’ve got the rest of the day to enjoy a few drinks, so don’t let your hard speechwriting work go to waste by getting wasted yourself.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Now everyone knows who you are, but do you know your audience? One of the most important aspects of a best man speech is for it to be enjoyable for everyone, so keep the content appropriate for all audiences. This isn’t to say you can’t be a bit cheeky of course, but be mindful that grandparents, young children or colleagues could be there. There’s nothing more cringeworthy than an inappropriate story about the groom being met with a few nervous titters (save it for the afterparty). If you’re second-guessing yourself on any anecdotes, it’s likely best to leave them out. Topics that are generally a no-go zone include money, sex, politics, religion or past relationships.
MAKE SURE YOUR JOKES ARE FUNNY
Keep things upbeat; it’s a toast, not a roast. This is the happiest day of their lives and one joke too far could really ruin the mood. Being best mates, of course a few friendly digs are to be expected, but check in with the couple before the wedding so you know exactly where the line is.
There’s nothing less engaging for an audience than listening to too many in-jokes that they can’t understand. Avoid any ‘you had to be there’ moments - your job is to tell a story that makes the guests feel like they were there anyway!
TELL THEIR STORY
The key to a great speech? It’s got to flow. Rather than string together a few choice anecdotes, your best man speech should tell a story - their love story. Find a theme, identify your key messages and build your speech from there. Include some variety, a few tales to make ‘em laugh and cry. Sadly, you can’t fit everything you want to say into a few minutes, so make it count.
Additionally, this speech isn’t solely about your relationship with the groom - as close as you may be - it’s about their epic love story. Give everyone an insight into their lives and who they are as a couple. Don’t be afraid to get emotional! Whilst searching the internet for best man speech inspiration is a great place to start, make sure yours is ultimately authentic and personal. Think about your relationship with the both of them, any memorable moments or tales from when they first met. If you have a sweet story that their other half may not know, like how nervous the groom was on their first date, that’s perfect. You could even include a quote from their favourite film, poem or book.
Practise, practise, then practise some more. Look up examples and templates online, or search YouTube for epic best man speeches. Reading your speech aloud and in front of others will help you figure out what works in terms of timing, anecdotes, and your delivery. Ask for feedback and keep going until it’s perfect.
Top tip: having your speech printed or written down on paper automatically makes you look a lot more prepared than reading it from your phone. Plus, it’s a nice memento for the couple to keep if they wish.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Public speaking certainly isn’t for everyone, it’s totally normal to be nervous. The best advice we can give for beating those pre-speech butterflies is to pace yourself; take time to pause, breathe, and leave room for audience reactions. You don’t need to tell every funny story or joke one after another, either. Find the right balance between emotional anecdotes and witty banter. If your comedic timing is just right, those snappy one liners will land even better after a touching story.
Your hours of practise should help you keep your cool. However if, on the day, you’re flagging and a joke just isn’t landing right, don’t be afraid to go for an easy positive reaction. Ask everyone to give the happy couple another round of applause or a big cheer for someone who has helped put the ceremony/reception together. Just take a breath, and get back on track.
If you want to make sure guests are completely hooked, practise strong eye contact, upright posture and voice projection. If you’re closed off and mumbling, people will sense that you’re uncomfortable. Even if you’re not the most confident public speaker, a smile and some eye contact goes a long way!
RAISE A TOAST
Always finish by reiterating how much you love the newlyweds, how happy you are to be a part of their special day and ask everyone to raise a glass to their happiness. Then, get ready to hit the dance floor!