The best man speech is still the most eagerly awaited but they’re often met with good-natured groans rather than genuine laughter. They’ve become a caricature, with the traditional characteristics exaggerated to grotesque effect.
Seriously, that line about the honeymoon and the groom ‘going to Bagnor for two weeks’. Or the ‘humorous’ fake telegram from the football team saying they found the groom useless in most positions but wish the bride good luck. Cringe.
Cheesy gags and meaningless one-liners are not what a best man speech is meant to be
What To Avoid
- Any line that could be said by another best man talking about another groom. Avoid the generic and obvious
- PowerPoint. Yes, those pictures of his rubbish haircut he had as a teen may still make you laugh but presentations have had their day.
- If it’s a heterosexual marriage, stay clear of the usual sexist tropes about a woman always being right
- If it’s a same-sex marriage, avoid any lines about the fact there are two grooms
- Avoid any mention of exes. The most you can allude to is the groom’s failure with women over the years. No details.
- Don’t bother with the stag-do stories. All groom-to-be are meant to act like muppets on their stag
- Don’t think this is your audition to be a stand-up comedian. Keep it succinct. Less than ten minutes tops.
- Avoid ‘in jokes’ or you had to be there. Make sure all your stories are understandable, even to the grannies in the room
- Don’t include anything dirty. Inneduedo, fine. But nothing that will make people cringe.
- Obviously, avoid anything the groom may not want you to talk about. His first marriage for example?
How To Write a Modern Best Man Speech
1 – Develop Your Own Brand of Comedy
Learning to be funny (or at least, funnier) is a useful life skill.
- Humour lowers defences and makes your audience like you more (honestly, scientists far cleverer than me have proved it)
- Humour has the same effect as learning something new does on the brain. It wakes up an audience and helps them remember the content of your speech.
- Humour is a well-established ingratiation tactic. Laughter is a scientifically recognised social bonding juice.
Our favourite brand of comedy is based on observation. It’s also the easiest to master.
The adage ‘It’s funny because it’s true’ makes sense. Comedians have a skilled eye when it comes to noticing the strange things in life that we take for granted but it’s often just about taking the time to look.
Start thinking about the things that make the groom unique. Everyone’s a nut-job, so what are the traits that his friends and family will recognise as truly ‘him’.
Ask yourself lots of questions – what’s his worst habit (wearing skinny jeans), what’s his guilty pleasure (Dire Straits), what might he love more than his bride (Abduls kebabs). You get the idea. Once you have good content to play with, the comedy should flow.
Find a Theme
This is how your speech goes into the Premier League. Rather than just a trail of anecdotes, think of a way to theme your speech and tie everything together. This way you’ll capture the audience and no one will be checking their Whatsapp under the table.
So how do you develop your theme; that glue that brings everything together?
Start by thinking about the groom’s personality traits. For example…
- Is he a pseudo-intellectual? Use quotes from great thinkers throughout history to describe your mate.
- Is he a teacher? List the surprising, weird, and lovely things you’ve learned from him over the years.
- Is he a rare breed of man? Do a David-Attenborough on him. Reveal his natural habits, his nocturnal activities, and his, er, mating habits.
It’s not rocket science. Your theme doesn’t need to be overly clever to work, but it ensures your content becomes a genuine narrative, rather than just a list of fun stories.
3 – Prove, Don’t Tell
Cut the clichés that most best men fall victim to. When it comes to ‘the nice bit’, rather than use adjectives, make sure you provide the evidence.
Don’t just say ‘he’s been there for you’, explain that he picked you up from the Hogs Head at 2am when every taxi refused to take you home. Tell everyone how he helped you get to grips with pensions and confess that you still owe him fifty quid. Highlight the real reasons he’s a top bloke and your speech will sound refreshing.
4 – Big Up The Bride (Or Groom)
The bride needs to be more than an afterthought and you need to say more than she’s ‘made your mate happy’ and ‘looks beautiful today’.
If you don’t know the groom’s partner well, then make an effort to do some digging. Find out about their character and reflect that in your tribute to them.
Of course, a good tribute can still be affectionately humorous. It should reflect the sort of person they truly are – even if it is a feisty Pinot-fiend with an adult-addiction to Monster Munch!
5 – Prepare to Deliver
Make sure there’s going to be a microphone at the venue and be prepared to use it if there is.
Make sure you position the ball of the mic below your mouth and point it towards your nose to avoid ‘popping’. Remember if you’re using a mic there’s NO NEED TO SHOUT.
And, as expressive as you should be, try not to wave your microphone around like you’re anointing your audience or forget about it completely. A mic only works when you’re pointing it at your mouth!
When it comes to delivering your speech, we always advise our clients to use notes. It means you can perfect your delivery, rather than test your memory skills.
Obviously, at modern weddings, it is becoming more common for people to read from tech; tablets, I-pads, phones. But as much as that seems the logical way to go, we actually advise against it and suggest old-school paper notes or cards might be best.
Tech looks overly casual and people are now programmed to resent people looking at their phones in their presence. It makes it feel like you’re not quite in the room.
It’s also more likely that you’ll scroll too far or accidentally click on the wrong tab and lose your way.