by Linda DiProperzio
Serving as someone’s best man is truly an honor. Out of all of the people your loved one could have chosen, they asked you to stand by their side on one of the most important days of their life. And in addition to showing up in your wedding best, you’ll be expected to give a speechat the wedding reception.
For some, this is a simple task and public speaking is no big deal. The officiant, for example, has tons of experience with talking in front of groups both big and small. But for many, standing up in front of all of those guests to give a wedding toast—that will be videotaped and watched for years to come—can be a daunting task. If you’re not a proficient speaker or writer, does that mean you should give up your best man duties? Of course not! You just need to do some prep work before the big day. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips and advice to help you write the perfect best man speech.
Tips for Writing a Best Man Speech
Even if you are more than comfortable giving a speech, you should still think about what you are going to say in advance. This is truly a special occasion, and you want to make sure this best man speech is something that the couple will remember for all of the right reasons. With that in mind, start at least a few weeks before the wedding on your toast.
Create an Outline
Remember those school papers where you had to make an outline of your work before writing the final draft? That is also a great way to organize your thoughts before you actually start putting together your wedding toast.
Find a Theme
An easy way to start writing is to focus on a particular theme. Think about some of your favorite stories involving your friend or the happy couple, and then start building your speech around those. Maybe you can talk about memorable trips or how you helped them plan the proposal. Just make sure the theme is happy and light!
Start With a Good Opening
Whether it’s a (clean) joke or some sweet words about how great the newlyweds look together, you want to come up with something that captures guests’ attention and sets the tone for the rest of your wedding toast.
Switch It Up
A great speech should be a combination of funny and touching. While it’s fine to move the newlyweds and guests to tears, you don’t want your best man speech to be too emotionally overwhelming. Something that will have people wiping away tears in both laughter and emotion is the right mix.
Not everyone in attendance will know your connection to the new spouses. With that in mind, tell everyone your name and how you know the couple before you start your speech. This way, everyone will understand why you were chosen for this important role.
Talk About Your Relationship With the Couple
You can even feel free to tell the story of how you both met—as long as it’s brief. You don’t want to spend too much time talking about yourself. The focus should be on the newlyweds as much as possible.
Read It to a Friend
After you have your draft completed, read it to a trusted friend who you know will give you honest feedback. This will help you figure out what stories and jokes aren’t quite working well in your speech.
Write It Down
If you have time to memorize the speech, that’s great! Even so, you might feel a bit intimated once you stand up in front of all the guests, so it is a good idea to have your speech written down on index cards or in a notebook in case you struggle in the moment. Plus, this looks way better than reading from a phone!
Whether you're reading from a card or memorizing it beforehand, practice your best man speech a few times before you recite it on the wedding day.
Basic Dos and Don’ts for Writing a Best Man Speech
Do Keep It Short
You don’t want to stand up there too long—you run the risk of boring the guests, not to mention that there are probably other people (the maid/matron of honor, parents, etc.) who also want a turn at the mic.
Don’t Try to Wing It
This is a moment you want to prepare for in advance. Write your speech out a few weeks before the wedding and be sure to practice it before the big day.
Don’t Be Inappropriate
Sure you want to be funny and entertaining, but you also don’t want to risk offending the couple or their guests. Remember that there will likely be older people in attendance, so their idea of humor could be much different than yours. Stay away from racy jokes or stories, as well as bad language. Save that for the bach party!
Do Tell the Story of How You Met
Give a brief explanation of how you and the couple know each other. Don’t assume everyone will know your connection to them.
Don’t Bring Up Past Relationships
Even if you’re making a joke, it’s never a good idea to bring up ex-girlfriends or ex-spouses during your best man speech.
Do Put the Spotlight on the Newlyweds
While you might have a ton of funny stories from your single days together, remember that the day is about the couple’s love and commitment to one another. Be sure to mention how great they are together!
Don’t Make It All About You
This is not the time for you to talk about your own love life or how important the newlywed is to each other. The focus should always be on the happy couple.
Do Stay Positive
You don’t want to mention any fights or breakups the couple might have had on their way to the altar. This is a day of love and light, so only positive words are acceptable.
Don’t Drink Too Much Beforehand
You might be tempted to have a few drinks to calm your nerves. Make sure you don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be up there slurring your words and embarrassing yourself—not to mention the couple—during the reception.
Do Propose a Toast to the Happy Couple
You always want to close out your best man speech by raising your glass and proposing a toast to the couple’s health and happiness.