• Raina

How to Write the Perfect Best Man Speech

Congrats! You've been selected as "best man." You have many important responsibilities such as corralling the groomsmen, distributing the alcohol, but there's really only one job that will secure your place as the the very best best man and that's giving a killer toast.


The best man's speech is a chance for you to say some sweet words about your relationship with the couple and wish your best friend well in his new marriage. However, if the thought of giving a speech has you breaking out in a cold sweat, just relax. We can help you pull off the best toast ever.

Getting all your thoughts and feelings down on paper can be overwhelming, especially if you're not used to sharing those sentiments with the guys. Here is a guideline for finding your flow.

Find a theme.

A unifying idea that ties the whole speech together is the first step. Think of it as the overall takeaway of your speech. The one thing you want guests to remember. The best way to identify your theme is by making a list of your favorite stories. You’re not going to just write a speech from scratch. You have to start by brainstorming stories. Most importantly, what you’re looking for is the underlying theme that comes out of those anecdotes.

Build a framework.

Create an outline of the key points you want to touch on first, like a toast skeleton. After you've established your roadmap, fill in the pertinent details and memories...just be sure you stick to the point. Think about it in terms of ideas. You can get in one or two short anecdotes, maybe three, and one big idea. If those are good, you don’t need more. Just be sure to put yourself in the shoes of someone in the audience. Think about what they’re looking for rather than what you want to do.

Focus on the newlyweds.

Most best men will include a story or two about their friendship with the groom, but don't center the entire speech on it. Remember the relationship that you’re celebrating is the one between the two people getting married. You’re giving the speech because you can shine some unique light on that relationship. If the relationship that you’re really giving the speech about is the one between you and the groom hat is just going to make things awkward.

Share your feelings.

Deliver something more meaningful than one joke after another. Generally speaking, people think of the best man speech as a funny speech to give because men are uncomfortable sharing how they feel. However, what makes a good best man speech is the part where somebody shares how they feel. Humor is just the icing on the cake. The newlyweds chose you to speak because you have something notable to add to their special day. Share your personal insight into their bond and don't try to dilute it by just being funny.

Consider your audience.

You can't nail a speech if you have no idea who to tailor the content to. Feel free to ask beforehand. Your point of contact is probably your friend getting married. But the nice thing about giving a best man speech is that, ideally, it’s both specific to you and universal to the couple. Guests should feel like they know you a little bit, and that they know the couple really well after you’re done.

Relax.

Never start with talking about how nervous you are. Remember, you’re not putting on a show. You're simply talking about your best friend and the love of their life, two people that you've probably spent a lot of time with. In the end, it should just flow and come out easily. If you're really nervous, just imagine you’re just telling a story to a group of friends because, really, you are.

Stay true to yourself.

Stick with who you are and how you would normally act around your friends; you don't need to adopt a character just because you're giving a speech. For example, if you aren't normally the comedian in the group, don't try to tell a bunch of jokes. If you're not usually a super-sentimental person, don't force it—there's nothing wrong with keeping your speech more lighthearted. The couple already knows (and loves) your personality, so the more genuine you are, the better your speech will be received by both the newlyweds and their guests.

Don't rely solely on humor.

While a few jokes sprinkled in can be a great tool for loosening up the crowd, don't make these the meat of your toast—especially if comedy doesn't come naturally to you. There’s such a thing as too many bad jokes, and that number is about one. The more you treat it as an open-mic night, the less happy everyone involved is going to be. Keep things positive.

Even if you think it's well-meaning, don't turn the toast into a roast or make jokes at the couple's expense. Unless the couple specifically told you that’s your job, that’s not your job. The way to think about jokes is that you don’t want people to be laughing at the groom or at the couple. You want people to be laughing because they suddenly know the groom better than they did before.

Don't upstage the newlyweds.

Keep your speech focused on the couple. You’re there because you know someone and care about them, and you’re sharing that with a bunch of other people. Even a great best man speech is not supposed to steal the show. If somebody says, 'That speech was nice but almost forgettable because we were so focused on the bride and groom,' that’s a win. You don’t need to be the star.

Make sure it's appropriate.

The general rule for wedding speeches is: If you have to ask yourself, 'Is this appropriate?' it’s not. And if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t know, ask a friend. If they give you that slightly horrified look, listen to that look. Keep in mind that your audience will include guests of various generations and cultures and include people like your buddy's grandparents, boss, and colleagues. Refrain from mentioning anything that you wouldn't want your grandma or boss to know. Get a second opinion.

Remember: you'll be delivering this toast in front of an audience (as if you could forget, right?). So it doesn't hurt to get some feedback on what you're planning on saying. If you’re the kind of person who has a track record of going a little too far with your surprises, you should be self-aware enough to run this by a third party—maybe another close friend or a friend of the bride. Frankly, at the end of the day, you want to make sure the groom is happy with it, but you really want to make sure the bride is happy with it.

Practice.

The last thing you want to do is stand up and give a speech that you've never said out loud. The best thing to do is practice with a friend. Anybody giving a big speech rehearses beforehand. If you’ve already gotten good feedback from field-testing your remarks with a smaller group, then you’re going to come out on the wedding day comfortably knowing you have a good speech. It's that uncertainty that can be scary when you’re up there speaking.

Keep it short.

Let's be realistic: super-long wedding toasts annoy guests. Five minutes is the absolute maximum. Three minutes is fine. There’s no question that if you’re reading this, you’ve sat through a speech that was too long. But when you start writing a speech, you almost never think, 'Is this going to be too long? Limit your drinks.

Don't embarrass yourself by slurring through your toast. Being one drink in works for some people, but being more than one drink in is never a good idea. At that moment when you’re like, 'You know what I need? Another couple of shots.' That is never what you need.

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