Being enlisted as a loved one’s best man is a big deal, and there are plenty of best man duties involved — including figuring out how to write a best man speech. Yes, it’s tradition for the best man to give a speech during the reception, so it’s time to prepare to take on that responsibility. that If you’re feeling a little nervous about giving a toast in front of a crowd, that’s totally understandable, especially if public speaking isn’t your forte. But with a little forethought and a lot of practice, you’ll be wowing the crowd with your best man speech in no time.
Here are the nine simple steps to writing a best man speech — and acing the delivery.
1. 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.
2. Start your best man speech by expressing gratitude.
If you’re wondering how to write a best man speech, we recommend beginning every speech by 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.
3. Then, talk about your relationship with the groom.
Beyond introducing your name, a big part of how to write a best man speech is 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.
4. 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 your best man toast by 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 talk about the time 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 pal that he’s found someone so perfect for him.
5. 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, drink, and dance. Your best man speech should be between three and five minutes, and 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 likely rush in the spotlight. That’s why you must…
7. 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.
7. Write it down.
You should try to memorize your best man toast 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 small bound notepad 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.
8. Don’t drink beforehand.
Tip the bottle after you’re done delivering the best man speech. We appreciate and understand the temptation to calm your nerves, but drinking beyond a 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 keep the pre-speech drinking to a minimum, okay? You’ll be great, we’re sure of it.
9. 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.
Got all those steps down? Now, here's what to avoid when writing your best man speech.
Similar to what to avoid when writing a maid of honor speech, you want to keep the focus off yourself and instead on the happy couple. But in general, it's best to steer clear of these things:
1. Inappropriate anecdotes.
Your pal's grandmother definitely does not need to hear about that one crazy night in college. Leave those drunken tales for the bachelor party, and keep your best man speech PG.
2. Any talk of exes.
Similarly, your friend's wedding just isn't the time to bring up anyone's previous relationships. No matter a how good a story you think it is, or even if it leads directly to the moment you're all in now, just leave it out.
3. Foul language.
Sensing a theme here? You want to make sure your best man speech is well received from the 80-year-old guests to the 8-year-old guests, so best to leave out any profanity or other PG-13 talk. Remember: a wedding is a family event.
4. Long-winded stories.
As mentioned previously, you want to keep this best man speech short and sweet. Trust us: People at this wedding will be drinking, they want to dance and eat cake — not listen to 15 minutes about that time you hiked together and watched the sunrise. If your story needs more than a few sentences to explain, either pare it down or consider a different approach for writing your best man speech.