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Best Man Speech

Nailing Your Best Man Speech

Over the last couple of decades, best men speeches have become over-the-top, clichéd, and generally a bit embarrassing (for the best man, not the groom ironically).

Writing a great best man speech is actually pretty simple. Granted, the Speechy team are TV scriptwriters by trade, so we’ve got a head-start, but we’re happy to share the techniques we use to create original humour without resorting to cheesy ‘jokes’ or alcohol.

Our advice has featured everywhere from The New York Times to The Times. As the only wedding speech experts invited on to BBC Sounds ‘Best Men podcast with Jason Manford we have all the advice you need to nail it. 

* Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out our best man template, speech edit, or bespoke service. Or, work with our new AI-powered team member –SpeechyAI!

Best Man Speech Etiquette

These days, best man speech etiquette is simply about doing a good job and not offending anyone. It’s not overly complicated. 

Don’t feel you need to be overly posh or formal just because you’re wearing a suit. There’s no need to address everyone as ‘ladies & gentleman’; a ‘well, hello everyone’ will suffice. 

Don’t buy into any ‘wedding waffle’, you don’t need to thank anyone or mention how lovely the venue is. Certainly don’t bother thanking the groom on behalf of the bridesmaids. That concept died out a long time ago! 

Here’s what you need to know…

 

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1. How to start your best man speech

Many folk assume the first couple of sentences have to be a version of … ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m (NAME) and I’m honoured to be (groom’s) best man today.’

Actually, no it doesn’t. Sometimes it can be. But it shouldn’t be automatic. Ask yourself if there’s anything more exciting.

Don’t waste people’s time with the same dull speech-fodder. Every word should count, so consider forgetting the ‘hellos’ altogether.

Controversial, we know.

The trick is to make the opening personal. Cut out the wedding white noise. Instead, cut to the punchline.

ALTERNATIVE OPENINGS

  • Jump right in. ‘So they’ve finally done it. Sophie has agreed to put up with Rohan for the rest of her life and he’s got that in writing.’
  • Address your audience. ‘Hands up who’s ever had to look after Stephen when he’s had a few beers?’
  • Short and snappy. If there has been a delay to the wedding – a swift ‘Well, let’s start with the elephant in the room. Why has the gorgeous, talented Mario, married a bright orange lad from Croydon who still can’t spell?’
  • Start with a story. ‘Let me tell you a story… when I first saw Tom, sitting in the bar, reading a book in the middle of the Saturday night chaos, I knew I had to speak to him. Only he was too absorbed in his John Grisham to notice me.’

 

wedding toast best man help

2. Pay a genuine tribute to the groom

We can get a bit too excited about the prospect of roasting our mates, but we do have to be nice about them to.

Remember, if it’s a straight wedding, the groom doesn’t (generally) get anyone paying a decent tribute to him. No one telling him how handsome he looks, what a wonderful son he is or what a great husband he’s going to be. 

So, as much as there’s an expectation for you to be funny, you should be nice too. Bonus points if you can make him cry 😉 Now, that would be funny.

wedding speech laughter

3. And a decent tribute to his partner too

The best man must compliment the groom’s partner and it helps if this sounds sincere. 

If you don’t know them well, do a bit of research so you can say more than the usual platitudes. Ditch the ‘you’ve made him a better man’ cliche and get specific. Have they finally taught him to respond to texts? Have his culinary skills developed beyond a fried egg? 

Of course, you need to pay a bit of a tribute to them too, and don’t just resort to meaningless adjectives like ‘kind’ or ‘funny’. Instead, can they put up a tent better than their husband? Have they turned him into a quinoa fan? 

Be original but remember one cliche is a must; all brides look beautiful.

 

wedding speeches lyrics quote rap help

4. The best man toast & closing lines

Some best men like to compliment and raise a toast to the bridesmaids but it’s actually the newlywed’s job. Your choice really, but keep it short if you do.

We tend to avoid having any toasts within a best man speech, other than the final one at the end.  

According to Debrett’s the best man speech usually includes a toast to ‘Mr and Mrs/Mr [newlywed’s Surname]’ and might announce the cutting of the cake’. At Speechy we prefer to find a unique way to toast the newly-hitched. 

Ideally you want the toast to tie in with a theme or story that you’ve already established earlier in the speech, even if it’s just raising a glass to ‘the coolest couple this side of the Hog’s Head’, or ‘to a lifetime of dancing on tables together’. 

Examples of best man toasts…

  • “To the groom, my partner in crime and the guy who finally decided to settle down. May your marriage be as adventurous as our bachelor days, but with fewer embarrassing stories. Cheers!”
  • “Here’s to the groom, the man of the hour, and the reason I had to put on a suit today. May your marriage be as strong as your WiFi signal and as enduring as our epic gaming sessions. Cheers, my friend!”
  • “As the best man, it’s my duty to embarrass the groom at least once during the speech. So here’s to the guy who once thought ‘Netflix and chill’ literally meant watching Netflix and chilling. May your marriage be filled with better communication than that! Cheers!”
  • “To the groom and his new life partner, thank you for giving me the honor of being the best man. May your marriage be as smooth as your pick-up lines and as exciting as our infamous trip to Munich. Here’s to love, laughter, and a happily ever after!”
 

SpeechyAI is great at crafting truly unique toasts for best men to deliver on the day! 

 

wedding speeches brother of bride help

5. Best best man speech length

You’re aiming for 8 to 10 minutes for a best man speech (a bit longer allowing for laughter and ad-libs). It sounds short but no one ever listened to a best man speech and said ‘if only it were longer’.

The wedding experts agree… ‘There’s a great saying; delivering a speech shouldn’t take longer than it does to consummate a marriage.’ Alison Hargreaves, Founder of Guides for Brides.

Even if you have a wealth of material, be strict with yourself. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length, and we guarantee it will be twice as good.

Ernest Hemingway said ‘The first draft of anything is shit’. This is not only true but reassuring.

People are generally more powerful when their words are punchy. It’s the same with jokes – keep ’em snappy.

Lots of sites offer quick estimates of your speech duration based on your wordcount and speaking speed. 

wedding toast

6. Keep the language clean(ish)

Obviously don’t swear if there are children present, though a few bloodies, bloomings and bollocks can add an acceptable edge. 

Check with the nearlyweds in advance and read the room on the day. 

We have scripted the odd F-bomb into a speech over the years but that’s been the exception and at exclusively adult-only weddings.

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7. Questions the best men should ask the groom

If in doubt, ask the two folk in charge… 

  • INTRO – Will you be be introduced by an MC or will you need to introduce yourself?
  • THE SPEAKER SCHEDULE – When will you be speaking (stagger your alcohol intake accordingly). 
  • SUGGESTED DURATION –  how long do the couple want you to speak? (Occasionally, some couples suggest five minutes or less. We think that’s quite tight so negotiate for between eight and ten minutes on the mic.) 
  • EQUIPMENT – Will there be a mic? Will you have time to test it on the morning? If so, it’s worth making sure you know how far to hold it from your mouth etc.
  • KIDS – Worth knowing if any children or prudish adults are in attendance so you can cater your content appropriately. 

 

How To Make Your Best Man Speech Funny

So we all know this is how you’ll be judged. Here are the basic rules.

Being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet. Avoid any articles like this basically – Maid of Honour Jokes. The jokes will illicit groans not giggles.

Yes, it’s more effort to write original lines but that’s no excuse for jokes about even the cake ‘being in tiers’ or honeymoons in Bangor (Google it if you haven’t already groaned at it!).

wedding speeches edit speech writing uk

Self-deprecation is a brilliant tool to utilise. Arguably, the strongest, most powerful form of comedy. It’s also the safest.

Sometimes, the people who you think will be good sports aren’t.  The only thing that’s 100% safe for you to take the piss out of, is yourself.

Not only is it safe, it’s sensible. Studies have shown that people who use self-deprecating humour are seen as more humble and consequently more emotional intelligent and attractive. Yes, physically attractive.

So, while you don’t want the speech to be all about you, add a few self-depreciating lines in there. 

  • “I must say, being chosen as the best man is almost as surprising as the time I tried to assemble Ikea furniture without looking at the instructions. Somehow, I got through both experiences, but I can’t promise the speech will be as sturdy as that bookshelf.”
  • “I was honored when the groom asked me to be his best man. I guess he figured that with my shiny head, I would reflect his good taste. So, here’s to being the mirror of the groom’s impeccable judgment.”
  • “Being the best man is a lot like being vertically challenged – it comes with its own set of challenges, like reaching the top shelf and convincing people that I’m not a lost child at the wedding. But here I am, ready to give a speech without the need for a step ladder.”

Wedding speech laughter

Start by thinking about the things that make the groom unique. Everyone’s a nut-job in their own way, so what traits will his friends and family recognise as truly ‘him’?

Ask yourself lots of questions – what’s his worst habit (skinny jeans), what’s his guilty pleasures (Dire Straits), what might he love more than his bride/groom (Abdul’s kebabs), what’s odd about him (his unusually short T-Rex arms).

Once you have good content to play with, the comedy will be much easier to find.

wedding speech laughter

Imagine the groom was the central character in a sitcom. What type of person would he be?

The health freak who transforms into a borritos-eating monster after a pint? The workaholic engineer who still calls on his elderly dad to help him with Ikea flatpack? The family man who has a secret life in his shed?

Once you find a basic premise, use anecdotes to help build on the character you’ve created.

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Good writing is all you need for a great speech. Powerpoint and props can often get in the way and stress you out.  Once you’ve committed to the projector, you’ve got to keep using it throughout the speech which can really restrict the content and tie you up in knots. And really, once you’ve seen one mullet, you’ve seen them all. 

Instead, concentrate your efforts on good writing. Keep your speech short and your jokes punchy. As Jason & Steve point out ‘When you’re starting off on the comedy circuit, you get a MAXIMUM of five minutes on stage. When you get really good – you get seven’.

One great joke is better than a dozen average ones.

Best man wedding speech

A little comedy writers tip for you. 

The callback is where you plant a story or a piece of info at the start of the speech, possibly as a throwaway line, and then reference it later on. It makes it seem that you’ve been working up to that punchline the whole time and suggests you’re smarter than you are.

For example, you tell a story about how the groom accidentally stapled his shoes to the floor when he was renovating his first house. Later, you conclude your speech by wishing the couple a life adventure and travelling the world ‘…just make sure he doesn’t staple his shoes to the floor before you get the chance to leave.’

The callback is basically establishing an inside joke that everyone is part of.

To make it work

  1. Plant something funny, and crucially, memorable in the first third of your speech.
  2. Then simple refer to it towards the end of your speech.

Voila. You’ve become a comedy pro.

Wedding speech laughter

While plagarism and stealing other people’s ideas isn’t on, quoting other people is totally legitimate. 

Check out our ‘Best Man Quotes’ post to see how a they can help super-charge your speech. 

wedding speeches second marriage hire a writer

Check out some best man speech videos we’ve collated, or have a read of Boris Johnson’s wedding speech as imagined by the Speechy Team. It will give you an idea of how professional comedy writers craft humorous lines. 

Of course, if all this advice has done nothing but convince you, you need help – then jump straight to all the different ways the Speechy team can help you, including SpeechyAI; a genius tool we’ve built that’s guaranteed to help you develop unique and hilarious lines. Honestly, it’s bloody good. 

wedding speeches best man help write a speech

How to Write & Deliver A Best Man Speech

So you get the principle of what you need to do, here’s how to do it… 

First step in writing your speech is to make sure you have blooming great content. You might think you have loads of good stories already but there will be better out there, so get digging and get dirty.

Email your mates and ask for their favourite groom stories – times he’s been clueless / his quirky faults / embarrassing moments – you know the deal.

Tap up the groom’s family for any classic tales from his childhood and find out if the groom’s partner is giving a speech. If not – get them onside to dish the dirt. They might relish having their say and sharing the reality of living with him.

Ask them how the groom could become a better husband. Find out what he does that annoys them. Surprise him (and everyone else) with your inner knowledge of his relationship.

It’s simple really…

  • Introduce yourself and how you know the groom 
  • Script a laugh as soon as possible; within the first 20 seconds. 
  • Establish the main theme of your speech (we’ll get to that next) 
  • Tell a few great stories which illustrate the groom’s characteristics in action. This should make up about two thirds of your speech. 
  • Then, bring in the ‘saviour’ – that is, the groom’s partner. Describe witnessing the groom fall in love and the influence their new spouse has had on them. 
  • Pay a (short but heartfelt) tribute to the groom’s partner.
  • Sum up your happiness (relief?) at their union 
  • Pay a more thoughtful tribute to the groom; highlighting his best character traits and illustrating your love for him
  • Sum up the theme of your speech with a funny line and propose a toast to the couple. 

The majority of best men resort to the classic ‘reasons the groom is an idiot’ as their narrative hook but dude, make some effort.

Rather than just a collection of anecdotes and obvious punchlines, build a narrative, a proper story, and make sure your speech is crafted rather than just a cut and paste job.

The theme doesn’t need to be complicated, it might just be a retelling of your bro-mance and its tragic end when the bride came on the scene.  If the groom’s now a vaguely respectable teacher,  reveal the alarming things he’s taught you over the years (snorting Sambuca etc). If he’s a wannabe musician,  chronicle his life through musical eras. Or use Yoda quotes to give him marriage advice if he’s a hardcore Star Wars fan.

Finding the right theme obviously depends on the personality of the groom but crack it, and you’re half way there.

‘Even with the funny stories, it has to have a point. Don’t tell me about the drunken trip on holiday or whatever; tell me something that has a meaning to it, something that ties into the theme of the speech. Even the humour has to feel connected and revealing.’ Eduardo Braniff, Men’s Vows

Don’t resort to clichés about him being a ‘top bloke’ without providing the evidence that he is.

Prove – don’t tell. Avoid using too many adjectives. Give specific examples of these qualities in action.

Pinpoint the things you genuinely like about him. Is he the only friend who shares your fascination with Elon Musk? Is he the one person who makes you feel better about your DIY skills? Is he still the mate with cool music suggestions?

Remember to keep it NUT – Nice, Unique and True(ish).

A confident delivery is half the battle, and not everyone feels comfortable public speaking. 

Make sure the groom has checked the acoustics of the venue & there’s a mic there if you need it (so many speeches are ruined just because the guests can’t hear them).

In advance, try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day. Delivering without notes is like ‘doing a wheelie’; pretty cool but, ultimately, unnecessary. It’s just showing off really.

So what’s best for your notes? Paper, cue cards or tech?

It comes down to personal preference but we recommend, old school A4 paper.

Mobiles and iPads are increasingly being used and they will inevitably become more prevalent, but we’re not convinced.  Tech may be what you expect a modern best man to use but it looks overly casual and sends out the wrong message.How many of us get annoyed when our loved ones get lost looking at a screen? 

If you decide to use paper, opt for thick A4 but only print 3/4 of the way down so you can maintain eye contact with your audience. 

More delivery tips in our Wedding Ideas article or in our Delivery Blog. 

‘When I’m preparing for a speech, I record myself and listen to it repeatedly. In the car, at home, wherever. I then try to improve it, record that next version and then listen to that repeatedly.

I keep repeating the process until the speech becomes this song, a melody that’s ingrained in me. Given enough time, delivering your speech can feel like singing along to your favourite song.’ Alan Berg, Public Speaking Expert 

What you’re aiming for is a conversational tone. You want the pace of a chat with your friends, anywhere between 130 and 170 words per minute.

Time yourself and check your pace.

A pause is essential when you expect laughter, and you should never talk over it once it lands. Speakers often move on from the joke too quickly and don’t give their audience a chance to react.

Body language is a biggie. As well as sounding relaxed, you need to look relaxed. An audience picks up body language cues. If you seem relaxed, your audience will feel in safe hands. 

When we work with clients in our Delivery Coaching Sessions, one of the things we often need to remind people is to… smile. It seems obvious but, even on such a happy day, people can often forget to look like they’re enjoying themselves and it is SO important. 

A smile is literally infectious, so make the most of it. Even a fake smile tricks your body into relaxing so make the most of it. 

‘My number one piece of advice would always be to time your drinks! You don’t want to hear your name called and realise you’ve had one too many to read your cue cards.

Something else I always notice in a great speech is eye contact. Try to consciously address the person you’re speaking to or about.’ Hamish Shephard, Founder of Bridebook

If you do find yourself getting heckled at the wedding reception, the first thing to bear in mind is not to panic. Even if you feel frustrated that someone has ruined your flow – take it in good humour and see it as an opportunity to get an extra laugh.

Use any laughter or noise that the heckler’s comment gets to choose your response.

If they don’t get any laughter then you don’t need to do much to win – a simple, “Let’s move on
shall we…”, or “They say it’s good to talk but I think you’ve just proved it’s not always true…”
should be enough.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER OPTIONS TO CONSIDER…
1. (If it’s a free bar) And that’s why the free bar ends after the first drink…
2. (If it’s not a free bar) And that’s why you don’t get a free bar…
3. And there’s another alcoholic who doesn’t want to remain anonymous.
4. You may laugh but because he’s here today there’s a village going without its idiot.
5. Of course one of the nice things about a wedding is that everyone has their role. The bride
has to look beautiful, the best man has to make a speech and someone has to have too much to
drink and make a fool of themselves, thanks for taking care of that for us.
6. I know the bride and groom had a long discussion when they were doing the seating plan
about whether they could get away with putting you on a table on your own, in Luton.

Speech Do's

Check with the groom

Anything he wants you to do (other than not abusing him)? Anything he’d like you not to mention?!?

Practice and film it on your phone

Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your gut and spot where your speech can be improved.

Have back-up notes on the day

Give a spare copy to a trusted mate in advance (or email it to your phone).

Do not rush

You might feel tempted to rush through it – but instead, imagine you’re a primary school teacher telling a story to a bunch of five year-olds. Get expressive, use your body and lose your inhibitions. 

Smile

Remember everyone wants you to do well so make sure you smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious.

Check out our guides

If you’re delivering a joint best man speech or you’re the brother of the groom, check out our specific guides. 

We offer a brother of the groom template is you need more than advice. 

Speech Don'ts

Don't thank anyone

In the past, the best man used to thank the newlyweds on behalf of the wedding party but these days, the best man’s speech is all about providing the entertainment and a tribute to the groom. 

Don't ignore the feedback of friends

It’s always worth testing your speech out on a mate, but this also means you have to listen to them. If they don’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.

Don't talk over laughter

You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until the guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.

Don't resort to 'in jokes'

Remember there are grannies out there. And a lot of people who weren’t on the stag and won’t find the story about Tika the waitress and her hairy chicken quite so funny.

Don't mention the ex

Even if you have a wealth of material, sorry, the rule still applies. Don’t mention exes.

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