Wedding Planning Guide
how to nail the best man speech
The moment arrives at different times for every guy: when the honor and emotion of being chosen as the best man gives way to the realization that you have to give a best man speech. Depending on where you fall in the public-speaking spectrum, this responsibility can be icing on the cake or rain on your parade.
Either way, we have some tips and tricks for you to deliver the best best man speech, including some best-man speech examples that strike all the right notes—and are yours for the taking (*ahem* borrowing).
Photo: Tec Petaja
Best Man Speech: Dos and Don’ts
For the wedded couple, it’s all about the “I dos.” For the best man, we have some “don’ts” to add, too.
DO plan ahead.
We’re not saying to have your final speech done six months in advance if that’s not your working style, but when the wedding is two to three weeks away, you should at least start thinking about what you want to say. Don’t be the guy with your eyes locked on your phone reading off a few notes you hastily typed out the night before. It looks and sounds bad, and the memory of it will be worse.
DON’T fill it with quotes/inside jokes.
If you’re the best man, you could probably fill a solid hour-long speech with inside jokes that would have you and your now-married BFF rolling with laughter. But you’d probably be the only ones. Sprinkle in one or two of your most accessible (and tasteful) inside jokes, max, and be sure to provide enough context so everyone’s in on the joke, too.
DO address their spouse.
Sure, you and the person who picked you to be their best man are tight. But now you’re at their wedding, and the person they married is the one who matters most. Give them a moment in the spotlight.
DON’T run long.
Usually the couple will provide some guidance on speech length, but if they don’t, stick to two to five minutes—and being closer to two is better than closer to five. If the worst thing people say about your speech is they wish it had been longer, that’s a huge success.
DO share a great story.
And the story should epitomize your relationship—it can be a gentle roast, something sweet, or a little bit of both. Your entire speech can center on this story, or it can be a brief anecdote to punch things up a bit. Feel free to have some fun here, but…
DON’T humiliate anyone.
...there are limits. It’s okay to share an embarrassing tale or two, provided it’s one everyone can laugh at. Remember that you’re not telling this story at a bar in front of a few mutual friends—in-laws and grandparents and children are likely in attendance, too. And it’s their wedding. So keep it classy and leave the jokes/horror stories of sex, debauchery, former flings, and the like for the after-party. Or, you know, never.
DO be funny.
It’s the best man speech—humor isn’t a prerequisite, but it’s definitely tradition. Making the newlyweds and their guests laugh will go a long way in making your best man speech as good as it can be. This doesn’t mean you have to be a stand-up comedian, but a joke or two is absolutely appropriate. Experiencing a comedy block? Our best man speech examples can help.
DON’T get drunk.
When the reception starts and your time to shine creeps closer, it may be totally tempting to take the edge off with a glass of liquid courage or four. We’re begging you: Don’t. You may feel better, but you won’t sound better, and everyone will be able to tell you’ve had a bit too many. Especially the one who asked you to be their best man.
Yes, we mean out loud. Reading aloud is a great way to iron out the kinks in your speech: run-on sentences, awkward phrases, repeated words (or even whole stories), etc. It’s also the only way to check your timing. Plus, it will help build your confidence. Bonus points if you read aloud to a partner or a few friends so you can experience and get used to a few jitters while you read.
DON’T sweat the small stuff.
No one is looking for nor expecting a flawless speech delivery. If you stumble or stutter on a few words, don’t worry about it! Just smile and keep reading (and don’t make a bunch of self-deprecating jokes in response—remember, this day is not about you nor your amazing speech). Absolutely no one will remember a few mistakes if you don’t give them any attention.
The Recipe for a Great Best Man Speech
Start with a killer opening line.
Add in your congratulations to the wedded couple and gratitude for the honor early.
Bring in your best story about the person who asked you to be their best man.
Mix in a compliment or anecdote about their new spouse.
Sprinkle some kind words about the parents (if applicable).
Finish off with a toast to the couple’s happiness.
Put that all together, in that order, and deliver until the glasses clink and the applause begins.
Examples: Our Favorite Best Man Speeches
“For those that don’t know me, _______ and I go back all the way to middle school. Which means we go back to a time when _______ looked more like Chunk from The Goonies and less like the suave man sitting before us tricking ______ into thinking that watching him do the Truffle Shuffle in the mirror isn’t in her near future.”
“Hello everyone, it’s such a pleasure to be here tonight as ______’s best man. And I want to begin with saying what an honor it is that I was chosen to stand by your side today. You’ve always been someone that I looked up to and I am just beyond grateful that I get to share in this moment with you and ______.”
“I could go into all the funny stories—some of which include some stupidity—but instead I’d rather focus on all the smart moves he’s made. His friendships, the relationship he has with his family, his career—it’s all a reflection of the incredible man he’s become. But really, the smartest move he’s made is marrying you, _______.”
“Right now, I’d like to start by laying down a couple of rules. Firstly, no heckling please. And secondly, if you do have a cell phone, please, leave it switched on; keep yourselves entertained. I think if you keep your spirits high and your expectations low, everyone will be happy.”
“Good evening! My name is _____ and despite my inability to speak or read well in public, ______ has chosen me to be his best man. And I thought marrying ______ meant he was starting to make good decisions in his life.”
“______ has the uncanny ability to talk for hours on any subject—and days if he actually knows anything about it.”
“On my fourth birthday, my parents got me a brother… I wanted a puppy. But seriously, as a kid ______ wanted to do everything I did. He used to follow me around. He used to sneak in my room and play with my Matchbox cars. Mom and Dad could get him to eat his broccoli by making me eat my broccoli.”
“______ has always thought of himself as the black sheep of the family. But I don’t think of him as the black sheep, I think of him as the North Star—leading the way, shining bright, and just a little...space-y.”
“There are obviously two very important people here today, without whom very little of this would have been possible. And the great thing is that as the evening progresses, most of us will get to spend more and more time talking with them. So please join me in a very special toast—to the bar staff!”
“To the happy couple, may their happiness be complete, their marriage long and prosperous, and every wedding speech they hear be funnier and shorter than mine. To _____ and ______.”