best man speech indoor reception
One Eleven Images

The best man speech, just like the maid of honor speech, is a pivotal moment in the wedding reception. After all, your bro is getting married! And attention must be paid. The groom might be your childhood best friend, relative, or actual brother, but whatever the relation, being enlisted as his best man is a big deal, and there are plenty of best man duties and responsibilities involved — including giving that awesome best man toast. If you’re feeling a little nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, that’s totally understandable. But with a little forethought and a lot of practice, you’ll be wowing the crowd with your best man speech in no time.

The best man speech is a big deal — ace your own toast by following our best man speech outline and must-know etiquette rules. 

Plan Out Your Best Man Speech Ahead of Time

Presuming you’re not reading this the night before the wedding, you should give yourself plenty of time—at least one month—to write your best man speech. The weeks leading up to the wedding, especially participating as such a crucial part of the wedding party, become hectic. With all of the events you’ll be encouraged or required to attend, you may very well lose sight of time. It’s better to think ahead so you relieve some of the pressure.

The Best Man Speech Outline

1. Start your best man speech by expressing gratitude

It’s our advice to begin every speech with introducing yourself, then expressing gratitude to those you think deserve a special shout out. Thank the couple’s parents for raising such great people, thank your friend for having you here, thank the guests for coming, thank the bartender for providing beer. It’s a low-key way to ease yourself into the best man speech and make sure those who deserve thanks feel appreciated.

2. Then talk about your relationship with the groom

Beyond introducing your name, you should begin your best man speech by talking about your relationship with the groom. Talk about how you met him and what kind of guy he is. If you can think of an anecdote that really sums up the kind of person he is, whether that’s charming, funny, or thoughtful, use it. But, if you’re going to use an anecdote, it will be more meaningful if you link it to his partner. For example, maybe he’s incredibly outgoing, but forgetful. His new spouse is more thoughtful and organized. If you start with an anecdote of his forgetfulness, and later follow up with a time you saw his partner’s organizational skills help him out big time, and that’s a moment you knew they were the real deal—that’s perfect.

3. Focus on the couple's relationship, and not just your own  

Presuming you’ve known the groom for longer than he’s know his partner, you can definitely start with recalling the earlier times in your friendship, but then skip ahead to when he met his partner. Think of a story that epitomizes their relationship. If you can think of a story when you realized his partner was “the one” for your buddy, use that. Maybe your groom told you one week after meeting his partner that they were going to get married, and you thought he was absolutely bonkers, but here you are. Maybe you’ve known your groom for a long, long time – if you’re his brother, for example. You’ve probably always had an idea of what his perfect partner would look like – but the one sitting in front of you exceeds all expectations. Emphasize how happy you are for your man that he’s found someone so perfect for him.

4. Finish your best man speech with congratulations and a toast

This is a foolproof way to end your best man speech. Congratulate the happy couple on their big day and offer a toast. The toast can be personal, witty, or a quote. Perhaps there’s a line about love and relationships from one of the groom’s favorite comedians or movies that you can share, or simply wish the couple the best and ask your fellow guests to raise their glasses.

best man speech toast outdoor wedding reception
James Tang Photography

Remember to Keep Your Best Man Speech Short

Best man speeches typically follow the father-of-the-bride speech and the maid of honor's toast. Your guests are restless at this point of the reception. People are anxious to eat, to drink, and to dance. Your best man speech should be between three and five minutes. It should not go longer than five minutes. Keep in mind that it will feel much shorter to you when you’re actually giving the speech – and you will rush in the spotlight. That’s why you must…

Practice, Practice, Practice

You have to – and we mean have to – practice your best man speech. You should give it a go at least three or four times before the actual reception. Whip out your phone and record yourself, then watch it for mistakes and things to improve. Not only is practice critical to giving the best performance, but it’ll improve your confidence going up there. Dominic Bliss, author of Being the Best Man for Dummies, suggests sending a video to a friend or relative who won’t be attending the wedding to give you honest feedback.

Write it Down

You should try to memorize your best man speech as best you can, but you’ll feel less anxious if you have it written down. Practice it enough so you don’t need to stare at the cards to know what you’re saying, but jotting down talking points is not a bad idea. Consider using notecards or a pleasant booklet because, well, the devil is in the details, and the photographer will be taking photos of you presenting your best man speech. Reading off a haphazardly torn piece of paper or while scrolling through your iPhone will look sloppy and indicate you didn’t prepare for the speech.

Don’t Drink Beforehand

Tip the bottle as much as you want after you’re done delivering the best man speech. We appreciate and understand the temptation to calm your nerves, but drinking beyond the glass of champagne at dinner will only make things worse. Alcohol paired with intense nerves or emotions will only amplify them. You’ll be less likely to remember what you’ve planned and form cohesive thoughts. Just, stay sober, okay? You’ll be great, we’re sure of it.