Whether you’re a coworker, sibling, or long-time best friend of the groom, a best man speech can seem like a daunting task…
As the best man, you, along with the rest of the guests, want the happy couple to have a special and memorable wedding day. However, you hold the power to contribute to a positive wedding atmosphere with your best man speech!
If you’re unsure how to create a meaningful and impactful speech, don’t worry, take a deep breath and delve into these tips and tricks!
Whether you want to make the audience laugh or hand off the mic with not a dry eye left in the room, we’ve got you covered!
Elements of a Perfect Best Man Speech
We’ve all been to a wedding where the speeches drag on, embarrass the couple, or seem insincere. This doesn’t have to be yours!
Luckily, a successful best man speech has the formula to ensure you keep it positive, brief, and heartfelt!
Consider these elements as an outline:
- Introduce yourself to the guests
- Express excitement for the happy couple
- Tell a story or two (whether heartfelt or comedic)
- Connect with the audience
- Wish the couple a happy and loving marriage
Sounds simple? Well, some of these are easier said than done, so here are some pointers for some of the more challenging elements of the best man speech.
Introducing yourself to the crowd is easy enough, but expressing excitement for the day, the newlyweds, and the opportunity to be a part of the celebration, is one of the most important points to nail.
The bride and groom are your friends, you are genuinely excited for them, so don’t overthink it.
Consider simply fleshing out some statements with ‘because’ to create some personal sentiments. Here are some examples:
- “I’m excited to be here because I’ve never seen Evan happier than he is with Stephanie.”
- “I’m honored to be Kevin’s best man because this is such an important moment in his and Anthony’s lives.”
- “I’m really excited to give this speech because I have so many positive things to say about Tessa and Laura’s relationship.”
Notice how each of the statements strike a positive tone, mentions both people in the relationship and offers a genuine feeling of excitement.
Tell a Funny Anecdote
While heartfelt stories are typically easy to manage, humor isn’t as cut-and-dried.
Everyone’s style of humor is different, and if you typically have a quirky storytelling style, you may want to pull back and offer a more universally funny tone, theme, or subject.
If you’re the master of deadpan delivery, try to adapt to more traditional storytelling. Deadpan humor can miss the mark for some, and you want to accommodate every audience member’s capacity for laughs.
Get some feedback on your funny story from someone close to you, preferably someone:
- Who was a witness to the story you’re telling
- With a different style of humor
- A bit older or a bit younger than you.
You’ll want honest feedback that’s sensitive to a perspective besides your own. You’ll also want to make sure that your story hits every demographic (or as many as possible).
Seek feedback from all sides of the aisle to make sure that your funny anecdote hits the mark.
Connect with the Audience
When you’re standing up there, you want to be more than just a talking head!
Brainstorming some sort of connection with the audience is vital to keeping everyone’s attention. So try and connect with something universal, or better yet, work in some audience participation!
Consider asking three to four fellow attendees (with whom you have a personal relationship) to write a one-sentence review (Amazon/Yelp style) of the couple, ending with a rating out of five stars.
Something like: “Allison and Leah are super cute and always light up when they see each other. I give this couple five stars!”.
Just remember to:
- Give audience members you plan to involve advanced notice, so they’re not caught off guard during the speech.
- Rehearse with them in plenty of time and help them workshop what they’ll say while they participate.
Wish the Couple Well
Wishing the couple well seems like an obvious element of any best man speech, but it’s one of the most important aspects to get right.
This is the time to propose a toast to the happy couple and round things up, so make sure guests leave with a good impression!
Keep it personal and genuine, and don’t be afraid to inject some (tasteful) humor. Come up with one (or a few) specific, tangible well-wishes like these whilst raising a glass…
- “I hope that Jonathan and Lewis have an outstanding marriage full of adventures, success, and special moments.”
- “Let’s toast to Eliza and Carl! I hope they have the best marriage ever and that they stay as happy together as they are right now.”
- “I wish Lucy and Emma a wonderful marriage, and I hope that they never argue about the thermostat, what to watch on TV, or couples costumes for Halloween.”
Tactics to Avoid in a Best Man Speech
While there are some tried and true elements of an outstanding best man speech, there are also time-tested tactics to avoid…
Don’t Make It About You
While your role as best man will grant you a certain amount of attention, don’t let this go to your head. Remember, you’re merely a conduit for the audience to fawn over the newlyweds!
Other than introducing yourself and providing your personal positive wishes for the couple, your speech should be about them, not you!
So give the audience a reason to celebrate (instead of cringe) and have a read through these tips…
- If you’re telling a heartfelt or funny story, make sure that someone in the couple (or both parties) is at the center of the plot.
- Make a quantitative count of how many times you refer to someone in the couple by name versus the number of times you mention yourself. If you’re referenced more than the couple, it could mean that your speech is too self-centered.
- Don’t mention any doubts that you had (or still have) about the relationship.
Don’t Mention the Bachelor/Bachelorette Party
To avoid unwanted embarrassment (for the married couple or anyone in the wedding party), avoid mentioning the bachelor or bachelorette party.
While drunken indiscretions are common at these parties, keep them between you, the bride/groom, and the wedding party. An embarrassing story (especially a salacious one) will only open up Pandora’s box.
There will be plenty of drunken antics or emotional outbursts to gossip about the next day without any mentions of the bachelorette/bachelor party—weddings, after all, are never boring.
Keep the focus on the day at hand, and let the bachelor/bachelorette party live on in memory (or, god forbid, photos).
Don’t Mention the Groom’s or Bride’s Exes
Keep mentions of the couple’s exes out of your best man speech!
Mentions of exes are incredibly uncomfortable for everybody, and they take the focus away from the two whose big day you’re celebrating.
If you have a perfect idea for a funny or heartfelt anecdote about the couple (or one of the pair) and it even tangentially includes an ex-partner, drop it from your speech! Exes should be left where they belong: in the past.
In some cases, exes who remain friends with the bride/groom are invited to the wedding. In this scenario, even discussing the premise of exes can be uncomfortable for both the couple and any potential ex-partner attendees. Again, avoid!
Focus instead on discussing the newlyweds, and dispel the potential for awkwardness by leaving exes out of the conversation!
Keep it PG
Whether or not there are children in the room, keep your best man speech PG. You wouldn’t want someone making a racy joke about you in front of your parents, so why put the couple through that objectively awkward experience?
In addition to innuendos, avoid cursing or anything else that would be stricken from the script of a family-friendly comedy. There will be ladies present!
You want your offering to be remembered for its authenticity and excitement for the couple rather than its raunchiness.
The Perfect Best Man Speech
When writing your best man speech, remember to keep your love for the couple at the forefront of your vision. You were asked to speak at the wedding not only because you’re a good friend, but because you can be trusted under pressure.
It’s an honor that shouldn’t be taken lightly, so show the bride and groom that they made the right call and follow the speech tips above.