10 Steps to the Best Best Man Speech

by Brett on July 22, 2008 · 67 comments

in Manly Skills

Photo by trubluetitan

At some point in your life, one of your buddies or your brother will probably ask you to be the best man in his wedding. This is a great honor. One of the duties of a best man is to give a speech wherein you say a few kind words about your friend/brother and his new wife. If you’ve been to many weddings, you know that oftentimes best man speeches can quickly devolve into an awkward, drunken spectacle. The mixture of booze and lack of preparation results in the best man rambling and sharing inappropriate and embarrassing stories about the groom in front of hundreds of family and friends.

If you don’t want to make yourself look like a real ignoramus, and you want to truly be the best man, here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you prepare to give your speech:

1. Prepare. Don’t walk into the wedding reception thinking you’ll know exactly what to say when you get there. If you have a few weeks before the wedding, start mulling over some ideas for the speech. Begin brainstorming and jotting down thoughts, stories, jokes, and quotes you might want to use. If you don’t know a lot about how your buddy and his wife met, ask. Think of stories from you and your buddy’s past that show what a great guy he is. The goal of the speech is to celebrate the couple and make them look good.

2. Stay sober. Sure, you want to enjoy yourself, and yes, alcohol may help take the edge off of giving a speech in front of hundreds of strangers; they don’t call alcohol liquid confidence for nothing. But make sure you’re not sloppy drunk when you give your speech. You don’t want to be completely uninhibited or you might say something you’ll regret later on. Besides, a man doesn’t need a crutch to help him tackle a challenge. Be man enough to postpone your own gratification until after the speech is completed.

3. Open by expressing gratitude. Thank all the people who made the day possible. Single out the bride and groom’s parents by name, and offer a toast to them for not only putting on the wedding but for raising two fine people. Thank the guests for coming.

4. Tell a story–make a connection. The ideal way to structure a best man speech is to find a connection between a story about your friend and your support for the couple. Share a story about how your friend would always lament that he would never find a woman with x,y, and z qualities, but how he finally did in his new bride. Or tell a story about the moment when you were hanging out with the couple and you realized your friend had found his match. Another good angle is to talk about the way that the bride and groom balance one another. Relate a funny (not embarrassing, see below) anecdote in which one of your buddy’s personality traits tripped him up in some way. For example, the story could be about how your friend is very shy and how this shyness caused some humorous event to occur. You then talk about how bubbly and outgoing his bride is, and how they therefore balance each other and make a perfect team.

5. Avoid controversial topics. Keep your speech on topics that aren’t controversial, offensive, or embarrassing. You would think this is common sense, but people somehow forget this when they’re standing with a microphone in their hand in front of a crowd of people. What gets people in trouble is attempting to be funny by sharing some embarrassing story or cracking some lame joke about a ball and chain. It usually comes out horribly and no one laughs. It’s okay to share a humorous anecdote, but not one that gets laughs at the expense of your friend and his new wife and embarrasses them and their guests.

Don’t talk about the groom’s past relationships, don’t tell people what you really thought of your buddy’s wife when you first met her, don’t slam the food, don’t make comments about “looking forward to the honeymoon” while winking at the bride–basically, just use some tact and common sense.

6. Avoid inside jokes. I hate when people do this in small groups. I hate it even more when people do it in front of larger groups. If you want to keep people’s attention, save the inside jokes for when it’s just you and your friend.

7. Keep it short. Nothing irritates people more than some rambling drunk going on and on and on. People have probably already listened to the maid of honor and the bride’s father give their spiel. By the time they get to you, the crowd is ready to eat cake and get on with it. Shoot for no more than five minutes.

8. End with a quote. An easy way to end is by using a quote that wraps the speech up nicely. In “How Do You Know When She’s the One?” I shared the quote my father-in-law used at my wedding. You can’t go wrong with it: “Marriage is not about finding a person you can live with, it’s about finding the person you can’t live without.” After that you can simply say, “My friend has found that person.” The End.

9. Raise your glass and propose a toast. Raise your glass and say something to the effect of: “Here’s to a lifetime of happiness and love for ____ and ____!”

10. Remember to be yourself. No need to get formal or try to be someone you’re not. And there’s no need to follow these instructions exactly either. Simply use them as a guide and be yourself. Let it flow naturally. Use your natural voice and mannerisms. Make it personal and sincere and say things from the heart and you should be golden.

Here’s your crib sheet:

1. Open by thanking those who made the day possible–end the intro with saying “Thank you to all those who have made it here today.”

2. Transition to your speech: “I am especially glad to be here on this occasion to celebrate this wonderful day with my friend/brother.”

3. Talk about how you know the groom, why you’re grateful for having him as your friend, and why he’s such an upstanding guy.

4. Share a story about your friend and connect it to the couple.

5. Raise your glass and ask everyone to join in a toast to the happy couple.

6. Let out a sigh of relief.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

1 m. wilhelm July 22, 2008 at 8:13 pm

What a great article! And the timing couldn’t be better. I’m the best man for my buddy’s wedding in two weeks and haven’t really thought about the best man speech. This will be my cheat sheet!

2 Dad of Divas July 23, 2008 at 4:23 am

Brett, This is a great resource. Though I have no weddings on the horizon, if I did…I would use this to a T as I have been a best man in the past and you are right with everything you have said and your toast is an important one!

3 Justin July 23, 2008 at 4:33 am

I recently served as my younger brother’s best man, returning his favor from 6 years ago. I remember what he told my wife and me on our special day and recited it in my speech back to him and his new bride. Needless to say, it went over well.

4 Zendad July 23, 2008 at 5:11 am

Good write-up, some very good points there. I’ve never had the (mis)fortune of having to do this task as of yet. *whew*
It’s probably for the best for most guys to leave out the drunken weekend they spent in Vegas with girls of questionable legal age………..(not from personal experience, never been to Vegas but I hear its nice….)
Zendad
http://www.zendad.net

5 Illuminati July 23, 2008 at 6:14 am

Great article. Just went to a wedding where the best man gave a 15 minute speech in the 90 degree heat (outdoor wedding) and just basically roasted the groom. Even talked about ex-girlfriends. Really uncomfortable for everyone.

6 Chad July 23, 2008 at 6:15 am

When I gave my brother’s toast, I centered the theme of the toast on the game, Yahtzee. Everyone in the room knew the game, and at the end we all raised our glass and declared “YAHTZEE!!”

7 Online Advertising July 23, 2008 at 6:27 am

Very excellent post.! Metaphors are the best trick for orators to use in order to win over a room, Include a few metaphors within the speech and you are golden.

8 Mike July 23, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Great article, Brett. I’ve been fortunate to be the best man/toaster at couple weddings now, and think your advice is right on. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared for the toast. When guys don’t feel prepared at a wedding they get nervous, and when they get nervous they drink, and when they drink the train jumps the tracks into rambling, offensive, inappropriate-town. If you get the speech done before the ceremony, you’ll be able to enjoy the proceedings much more.

Finally, I like your advice to be yourself. Too many public speakers feel as though they have to be terribly businesslike and formal. While it’s true that there are situations that call for formality, try to remember that you’re in a room of people who like you or want to like you. Yes, it’s an auspicious day, and you should be careful of what you say, but it’s also a day for fun and for making memories. So relax and let everyone know who you are, and what your relationship with the happy couple is like.

9 Rickey Henderson July 24, 2008 at 7:44 am

Great stuff–Rickey’s totally fowarding this to his best man for next June’s wedding. Strong work.

10 Graeme July 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Yeah my brother gave an excellent best man speech you might want to check it out
for ideas
http://www.robotii.co.uk/best-mans-speech/

11 Larry Short July 30, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Yes, and I would add one more …

MAKE IT ABOUT THE BRIDE AND GROOM, RATHER THAN YOU. The “worst” best man speeches I have ever heard (and I’ve heard a few) are those in which the speaker paints himself in a good light, for instance by telling stories that just involve him and the groom, in order to prove what good buds they are.

Bear in mind, this day is about the bride and groom … not about you. The best speech makes the speaker invisible and puts the focus on the right couple!

12 abhay agarwal August 1, 2008 at 3:02 am

I want to remove my hesitation in public speaking through any gree course online or through any book or any other way possible.

please help

13 Dan Hetaraka September 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Hey this is a great article. Some very well written tips. This should really help when delivering any best man speeches. Wish me luck on my speech and thanks for the tips.

14 Barry September 6, 2008 at 8:52 am

Fantastic article and advice! There’s so much *bad* advice out there in support of unoriginal, tasteless speeches. Your suggestions helped me to write a speech for a wedding I was Best Man at just last weekend. Here’s a link to the speech I gave, perhaps other Best Men to-be will find it helpful:

http://www.squidoo.com/BestManSpeechExample

15 CJ October 29, 2008 at 1:47 pm

jus wanted to say thanks for this article, it’s helped me out so much.

16 Mike November 18, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Thanks for this article. It helped me so much with structuring and delivering my speech. I speak in front of people all day long. But delivering an emotionally connected speech was foreign to me. Your article helped me greatly. Thanks!

17 Michelle December 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

One more thing…keep it real! My husband’s best man did a great speech (everyone was raving over how emotional it was and the best speech they’d heard from a best man)…the problem was that it was all just words. We’ve been married now for nearly 7 years and none of the things he gushed over have happened!

As the bride I sat there thinking how fake it all was…just no one else knew!

18 Rome January 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Hi Brett,
great article,great tips,great best man speech resource. I have been looking for some tips on best man speeches,and your webpage was very helpful. Thanks for that,and keep a good work up!

19 jason January 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Hey, great post on best man speeches (or a best man speech). The only other resource I might recommend (after several stints as a best man) would be the Best Man Bible (http://www.thebestmanbible.com).

20 Jay April 19, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Hey, thanks a bunch. I’m 17, and I’ll be giving my first best man speech this fall for a buddy of mine. I had no idea what the heck I was going to do, so this really helps me.

21 Monty July 21, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Great article, Im sure i will refer back to this several times while writing the best man speach i have to deliver the end of next month. Im not known for public speaking but this article breaks it down and im sure will keep me from forgetting some improtant notes. like the parents and such. Sooo glad i ran into this, im sure my best friend will appreciate me not blowing the recption on a poorly worded and tasteless toast. Thanks AOM

22 David August 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Great article and a great list for what to do and not to do in your best man’s speech!
A problem I’ve found a lot of best men have is getting started with writing their speech. The best advice I could give to supplement your list is to get a notebook and start writing down things that will pop into your head, do not critique of edit the thoughts, just keep writing them down.
Sometime later review what you have written and rework or reject the material you like or dislike.
It can be difficult to avoid drinking on the wedding day especially since everyone wants to get you a drink but keeping a clear head will allow you to give the wedding speech you have written the delivery it deserves.
For further inspiration have a look at Wedding Speech Success Best Man’s Speech Guide
.

23 Jason August 25, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Actually, you start from the wrong premise, which is that the best man is supposed to give a speech. The best man has the perogative to offer the first toast at the reception, and it should be to the bride. Toasts can be rather long, fine, but most best men today seem to concieve of what they are doing as “giving a speech” rather than “proposing a toast” so they ramble on and on and on and on about how awesome he and the groom are, and what good friends they are, and anything and everything that comes to mind, then gradually loses steam, tosses a few words the bride’s way to acknowledge her presence, says “ummm, ok, that’s it” and takes a drink and sits down. Then the maid of honor gets up and cries into the microphone for ten minutes. By then the guests have lost interest, and are terribly thirsty, because they are expecting toasts but no one is offering one.

24 Jake March 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Awesome article, Brett. This really helped me big time. I was the best man for the first time in my life a few weeks ago. Sticking to this let me deliver a fine speech, and I recieved alot of compliments for it.

Thanks alot for the article and the great website.

25 Best Man Speeches March 1, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Totally in agreement that the biggest thing a best man can do is to prepare prepare prepare. The groom – and even worse – the bride – will be embarrassed if you haven’t put some time into thinking about why the groom is awesome and be able to express it in a confident way. Even the most shy of guys (and that’s most of us when it comes to public speaking) can learn how to make the proper speech.

26 Joe April 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Great Write Up Brett! This is truly a great resource for a best man!

27 Carlos July 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

Ohhh boy this is going to save my life, i need to have this speech rdy in 2 days and after reading this im almost done with the speech… thanks dude
and i can promise the speech wont be embarrising but im goin to b waisted..lol

28 Rick July 21, 2010 at 9:09 am

I was recently at a wedding, and this speech was hilarious
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XOwPk8xHnc

29 Frank August 1, 2010 at 12:14 am

Was asked to make a toast at the last minute and boy did this article come in handy. The 5 point outline worked like a charm and made me look like a natural.

Many thanks

30 Evelyn August 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

I wish I could have saved myself a LOT of embarrassment at our wedding and had our best men take a look at this post. Not only did we have TWO best men, but both of them made myself and the guests so unbelievably uncomfortable. In their 10min a piece “speeches” (because both of them forgot to toast) which was read word for word from a paper they wrote on, they managed to mention a break-up they *thought* we had, details on one particular fight from YEARS ago that one of them happened to be there for, never complimented our parents for the night they had prepared, never mentioned how nicely I looked, talked about how great my husband is for being able to endure it, shared their opinion that the best thing about a relationship is getting through the hard times, and to top it all off the only positive thing they said about me was that I kept a clean house.Yay. Kudos to all of you gentleman that do your research because these two obviously didn’t.

31 chris August 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

Cheers so much help good to see theres good help on the internet that doesnt cost the world thanks again

32 Tryclyde August 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I just gave a best man toast and more or less followed this format. The result was people I didn’t even know coming up to me afterwards and commending me on how great it was. All of my friends were saying how it was the best best man speech they had ever heard.

Unfortunately, the maid of honor obviously did not read this article. She rambled on about her and the bride’s college days which had no connection with the bride and groom, the speech was entirely too long, she had this lame running joke throughout the speech, and she didn’t even toast at the end!

Follw this if you’re going to give a best man speech. The two best tips are: 1. Don’t make it too long (between 4 and 5 minutes) and 2. make it mostly about the bride and groom and your connection with them, NOT about just you and the groom.

33 Boland September 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

Going into battle in two days. This has been the best advise I could have ever hoped for. It really covers it all. Comments alone make me feel ready for battle.

34 Kaplan October 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Many thanks for this post, and thank to all of you for the insightful comments. It’s refreshing to stumble on a blog that actually contains a
comment section of value.
I was asked to be the best man just a couple weeks before the grooms wedding. Not ideal but plenty of time…if you prepare. After spending the week thinking about my friend and what I could say to him (an internal brain dump if you will) I took pen to paper for the 2 hour flight which left me with a solid 4 minute toast.
Everything changed though, once I had the opportunity to meet everyone and spend time with them. Again, I did some internal editing then created a revised draft. Good to go. Until the reception. Father of the bride took longer than expected with his speech (a whopping half an hour), leaving little time for father of the groom to speak. This was followed by a traditional maid of honor tear fest consisting of insightful and revealing details about their dorm life together. Then the hall temporarily lost power. Needless to say, there was little time for me, but I just went with it. My notes never left my pocket but the words just flowed. I could have gone on longer, but I knew my role. It was fantastic and felt good to be congratulated throughout the evening for a job well done.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. The rest will take care of itself.

35 GREG WILLIAMS October 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Another useful tip….when giving the toasts…just allow a few seconds for people to stand from their chairs before you continue. A lot of people standing can make a lot of noise, and you dont want it to be too noisy for people to hear what you are saying.

36 Josh November 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

thank you for this article it is very informative, i have to do “the speech” in 2 days and had never heard “the speech” given so i had no idea what to even say …you made it a lot easier for me now….thank you

37 Gav November 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Here’s my speech from 2 weeks ago, took a while to prepare but it went down well. (not your usual speech)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjxYXYZiLBM

38 Busola December 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Many thanks for posting this article. I am going to be my friend’s Best Man at exactly a week from now and this article is going to be my guide.

39 William December 7, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Thank you so much for this. I am the Best Man for my friend’s wedding tomorrow and this article has helped me out tremendously. I went from having no idea of what to do, to actually feeling confident in the toast I will be giving. So again, much thanks.

40 Tyler December 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Awesomely helpful post, Brett. You’re “crib sheet” proved to be a severely helpful outline for a first-time best man. Cheers!

41 Someguy1111 December 17, 2012 at 5:42 am

I must say this comes out very helpful. I’m about to be the best man for my best friend at his wedding in january of 2013. Its going to be my first time being a best man for any wedding, and not gunna lie was feeling kinda nervous and clueless on what I’m going to say for the best man speech. But after reading this, I begin to gain comfort, and confidence. so again, thanks for posting this online, because it simply explained what I need to know on what to say.
-thanks

42 Jordan January 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Great article. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and seen numerous best man speeches, your advices are really to the point.

43 Zach Crow January 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

This was prettttty good I’d say. Got a lot of people laughing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9UmPlYF9ps

44 adarsh March 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Very nice article; this helped me a lot and am sure it will help others too! (y)

45 Frederick Mensah May 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Soo great. … I was so confused about what to write but finally this article has help me out. …now I can over give a speech ….

46 Rizo May 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Guys, thanks to this article, I gave my best man speech yesterday with full confidence and everybody said it was a great. I stuck to the main points outlined here, Thanking everyone for coming, thanking the parents and went to a story which led to highlighting the couple. ended with a quote and a toast. voila!

47 meshileya israel May 10, 2013 at 8:18 pm

thanks for the article, more power to your elbow

48 d. davis May 13, 2013 at 7:41 am

thank you so much for this outline, i was both best man and father of the groom at a recent wedding and i was complimented to no end for the speech i gave using your template. a toast to the author!

49 Trent May 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I’m so nervous about giving this speech at my best buddy’s wedding next weekend. Thanks for the step-by-step. I’m a good writer, but not necessarily a speaker. Now I have a good format. Thanks man.

50 Justin May 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

I’ve got to give a best man’s speech in a few hours. This is a life saver, thanks!

51 GW May 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

I used this article to help fine tune my toast at my brother’s wedding last December. It couldn’t have gone any better. Thanks Brett and AoM!

52 Lucas May 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

Dear AOM,

As a loyal reader whose friends are finally beginning to take the plunge (3 marriages this summer), I found this post thoroughly enjoyable.

However, one of my oldest friends (and groom at one of the weddings) has asked me to be the minister for his ceremony. Honored, I agreed to do it, not knowing where to even begin. Do you have any manly advice for your readers on the subject of actually performing a wedding ceremony. I feel like this type of situation is becoming even more popular these days, and I believe many of your readers could benefit from your tips.

Keep fighting the good fight, and thanks for years of entertainment.

Lucas

53 Max May 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Thanks a lot for providing this. I used your framework and guidance and really killed it. Everyone said it was great and the DJ even said it was one of the best he’d seen. Great format for a good writer to build on and a good presenter to deliver. Thanks AoM.

54 Miller N. June 12, 2013 at 4:11 am

First time doin’ it and now … finally an idea. ……. Nice!!!

55 Vuoy K June 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

Vuyo K

Thank you very much for this site. On the 10th of August 2013 will be my very first time to be The Best Man

Cheers, May The Best Man Win

56 Chris June 29, 2013 at 6:43 am

Great article, Brett. I have my brother’s wedding coming up in about a month and a half. These tips will definitely help. Thanks

57 Rob June 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I was best man for my son’s wedding this weekend. The speech was very important to me. Your advice was great, and I had a lot of people compliment me on my speech. Thank you very much.

58 James July 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I’m going to be the best man for my brother this weekend, and I’ve still to prepare a speech… thank God for AoM!

59 Paul Kerrison July 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Some great tips there – I used this page and (many many) others to help write a best man’s speech I did recently…

Your page inspired me so much – I’ve even written my own set of tips to compliment it. I think we agree on most points!

http://paulkerrison.co.uk/handy-things/best-mans-speech-nerves-heres-some-tips-for-writing-one

60 Edgar August 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I was the best man at my buddy’s wedding this past weekend. Prior to that, I followed these instructions to a tee and, wouldn’t know you know it, the speech brought the house down.

Fellas – follow this guide like the gospel. Trust me on this.

61 Nick August 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I was the best man at my good friend’s wedding this past weekend. I’ve been in 4 other weddings, and been the best man 2 other times…and my other 2 toasts were flops (don’t wing it). I followed your crib sheet above and killed it in front of 300+ in roughly 3 minutes. I just had to say a huge THANK YOU!

62 Anthony September 12, 2013 at 8:13 am

Just got through mine this past Sunday. This post was super helpful. The one thing i’d like to reiterate from all the comments is, practice, practice, practice and make sure you time it at least once. What looked like a short speech on my computer screen turned out to be about 6mins of speech which was way too long. I ended up cutting it down to 3mins since the way the wedding was organized had me going after the bride’s father and her maid of honor.

63 Steven October 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm

I want to thank you so much for this article and website. I gave my best man speech yesterday using this article as a guide and I nailed it. I received so many compliments about how good my speech was! Thanks again!

64 Dave October 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Here is the end of my best mans speech aimed at my brother. I wanted it to stick out in peoples mind so turned to music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_wr5P7thKM

65 walt December 14, 2013 at 2:49 pm

This information is awesome. My brother-in law gets married on the 4th of January, so I have a few weeks, but this has given me the confidence that I wouldn’t have had. Thank You!

66 Meshakhad February 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm

I gave what was, by all accounts, a fantastic speech at my best friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. My speech could be boiled down to three parts:
1. Talking about friendship – the sort of friendship that ends with you being best man.
2. Well-wishes to the bride and groom.
3. Describing the presents I gave the couple. As they were doing a globetrotting honeymoon, I gave them a pair of Mr. and Mrs. luggage tags, a phrasebook, and an engraved compass.

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