How to Write a Best Man Speech

how to write a best man speech

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It’s always fun to be the best man at a wedding. However, as exciting as it can be, writing the speech is quite the task.

No matter how close you are with the groom, speaking in public (even at a small wedding) is tough for a lot of people. Luckily, a solid, well-crafted speech can fix that.

This guide will break down different tips on how to write a best man speech to help you nail your time in the spotlight.

Practice Makes Perfect

Of course, every best man speech starts with both planning and practice – lots and lots of practice.

While you can always read with notes, it is much more professional to deliver your address hands-free.

Going over your speech many times in advance is an extremely important step and is not something that should be overlooked.

Though there is no prescribed set time for when you need to make a best man speech, it is best to start writing at least a month before the wedding. Though that may sound early, it always helps to give yourself a bit of extra time.

The Power of Preparation

best man

When learning how to write a best man speech, it is always important to prepare in a way that allows you to adapt your talk on the fly.

Memorizing an address is important, but anyone who has spent time public speaking knows that you’re never going to remember each and every part.

Rather than putting yourself into a corner where you can only say your speech line-for-line, you want to know it so well that you can adlib or make jokes as you go. This not only makes for a much more relaxed address, but it also makes the delivery much easier.

For instance, if you know you’re going to tell a story about when the groom was in fifth grade, you can also talk about a high school incident without losing your way.

Be sure to show up to the wedding knowing exactly what you want to say. If there is something you aren’t quite sure of, such as how the bride and groom met, just ask.

Those steps also help prevent you from getting tripped up.

A Strong Opening

man buttoning his suit

There is no singular way to write a great best man speech. However, there are some general outline steps you can follow as you work.

The first, and perhaps the most important, part of a solid speech is the opening lines. You only get one shot to make an impression on an audience (even if you know most of the people in it), and you never want to waste that opportunity.

To take full advantage of the opening, you need a strong line that will both get everyone’s attention and set the proper mood.

For example, if you’re going for a lighter feel, you can start with a great one-liner joke to get people laughing. That will let them know everything will be more relaxed.

However, if you’re going for a more serious overtone, you can start with a more neutral opening line about the couple or you and groom’s past.

You never want to go too serious, but you don’t have to start out funny if that doesn’t work for you.

It can also be a good idea to lead by thanking everyone who helped make the wedding possible, as well as the family and guests for attending. However, that can be done at the end as well.

Find the Right Length

man fixing hem of suit

When learning how to write a best man speech, it can be hard to find the correct length. It is an important moment, and that means you want it to have a good amount of weight. For that reason, you can’t have it be too short.

On the other hand, it is also important to not make it too long. A wedding has a lot of moving parts, and people can tend to get bored if the best man speech drags on.

The best middle ground between those two marks is about four to five minutes. That will give you enough time to say something of worth, but not so much time that people begin to zone out as you talk.

If you have a good story but it will only take three minutes, that is also fine.

Also, note that length will often vary depending on what type of event you’re at. A huge affair with many guests gives you more time, while you want to keep it shorter at a smaller, more intimate wedding.

Regardless of how you adapt around the limit, stick to the general time frame and you’ll be fine.

Understand the Audience

There are many ways to write a best man speech, and there are many interesting topics to both focus and hone in on.

First, always think about the groom. What’s he like? What sort of stories would he be ok with you telling? Those types of questions are important because they will help you better zoom in on any potential stories (covered below).

It is also important to know the groom’s family. Even if he might be ok with certain lines or jokes, you never want to tell them if nobody else will think they are funny.

Always tailor your speech to the people listening.

A Core Story

wedding guests raising glasses

Though not every best man speech needs a story, it is generally a good idea to include one when possible. That is because, not only will it establish your connection to the groom, but it will also help you ingratiate yourself to the audience.

The general outline is to start with your strong opening, talk for thirty or so seconds, and then use that to lead into a story about you and the groom.

What tale you pick to tell is completely up to you. As long as you follow the above guidelines, you can go with whatever you want.

Maybe you talk about how the groom never thought he would meet someone as lovely as the bride, or maybe you go with an embarrassing anecdote.

Follow the crowd, pick an entertaining angle, and you’ll be more than fine.

Bookend Your Address

best man fixing suit

After you get through the body of the speech, you want to make sure you end as strong as you began. There are a few options to achieve that.

First, you can always wrap things up with a quote. This may not seem like the obvious route, but it is a great way to tie everything together.

A profound quote can be especially strong if you’re delivering a funny or light-hearted speech to bring everyone back around to the couple and the importance of the big day.

If you want to use another method, you cannot go wrong with a toast. Toasts are a key part of most weddings, and employing one at the end of a speech is a great moment.

Simply raise your glass and conclude with something like “here’s to a lifetime of happiness.”

Additional Tips

Now that we’ve covered how to write a best man speech, there are few more general tips that you should keep in mind during the process.

The first is to always vary both your pace and tone. Keeping it in one mode can work, but it often just leads to a boring narrative. Being able to go back and forth between different styles is a great way to keep people engaged.

In addition, you want to make sure you don’t mumble. Just as you never want to keep the same tone through the entire address, it is also important the wedding guests can hear you loud and clear.

That will also make your speech much more exciting and allow you to add stress when you need it.

Finally, it always helps to have a plan B. While you can get locked into one story or speech, being able to adapt if your first lines aren’t landing is a good idea.

Aspects to Avoid

man fixing suit

As covered, it can feel easy to throw everything into your speech. However, there are more than a few topics you want to avoid.

Never discuss controversial topics (including politics) and try to stay away from anything too green or graphic. It is also important to not discuss ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends, as well as negativity about marriage.

Beyond that, it is generally a good idea to stay away from any inside jokes. Though you and the groom may find them funny, they quickly isolate the audience and won’t land that well.

Crafting the Right Words

There are many parts you need to balance when learning how to write a best man speech. However, if you can get all of your ducks (and words) in a row, you should have something that everyone will remember.

This is not a completely formal address, but it is also not something you just want to throw together on the spot. There is a balance here, and if you follow the advice in the above sections you will be able to achieve it.

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