So you’ve been bestowed the great honour of becoming a best man… the biggest responsibility to make sure everything runs smoothly on your pal’s big day is on your shoulders and your speech is the most eagerly anticipated of the whole day… no pressure!
Not only should it be the right side of funny, it should also be memorable.
The important things to do when writing a speech include thanking people for being there, describing your connection with the groom, and making people laugh while avoiding any cringe-inducing comments.
Make sure you are funny but not forgetful and sincere but not sinful. With a big list of DOs and DON’Ts it can all seem like a big haze of where to begin, but don’t get flustered. Follow our guide and you won’t go wrong.
Where do I start?
As long as you are prepared, you can’t go wrong. The most important piece of advice when writing a speech is to make it personal. Copying from the internet will most likely lead to an Americanised script or end up being completely irrelevant to your chum. Start off by penning some notes – including about 15 of your overriding memories of your friend. They don’t all have to be funny. You can either use cue cards or paper as it may flummox you on the day if you decide to memorise it and then have to ad-lib when you forget where you are halfway through.
Opening your speech
You should open your speech with a great one-liner from our list below.
Then quickly move on to introducing yourself, clearly explaining the link between yourself and the groom. You will also need to thank the groom and the father of the bride for their speeches.
Make light of the occasion, wedding gifts or the venue, anything that could bring funny asides. You can even mock the bridesmaids or ushers at this point for managing to get out of giving a speech.
Your relationship with the groom
Offer the guests an entertaining story about how you met the groom. You should litter your speech with a few cheeky – but not humiliating – digs about your first impressions and lead into why you are still such good friends now. Build anecdotes up into funny stories which you have gathered from his nearest and dearest. You might include his horrendous nicknames, embarrassing moments from his teen years, how he used to collect Lego and still has a collection stashed in the attic, etc.
Compliment the bride
Be flattering to the bride – tell her how beautiful she looks and then feel free to launch into mocking how terrible her taste in husbands is, with yet more funny tales – this could be about his bad habits or embarrassing nicknames. Then offer your condolences on the struggle that lies ahead.
Time to be sincere
To ensure everyone knows you have just been joking, round up with some sincere complimentary words about your pal and how well the newlyweds get along. You could add some simple words of advice for the newly married couple followed by some funny tips about marriage in general.
It’s a wrap
Finally, conclude your grand speech by thanking everyone for coming, toast the bridesmaids and then wishing the new couple all the best for their lives together.
I killed my best man speech— Elijah Cooksey (@MFCooksey) October 24, 2015
Stand up straight and look confident, remembering to keep eye contact with your guests. If you expect a laugh – wait. If it doesn’t come, tell people they were meant to laugh and refuse to go on until they do. Don’t begin again until the laughter has died down. Enjoy interruptions, especially funny ones because they will give you some thinking time. Whatever you decide to do, you need to rehearse it – again and again.
What ruins a speech is when a nervous speaker goes too fast. They doesn’t pause to let their points sink in with the guests and don’t wait for the laughs they want. The audience is then so busy trying to catch what they’re jibbering about, that they don’t have time to laugh.
Don’t get drunk
Don’t drink too much before speaking. You might think it helps, but your audience won’t! And if you get a totally unexpected laugh – blatantly check if you’re flying low and look around.
Getting the tone completely wrong
You need to get the tone of humour exactly right – you want to make your best pal laugh his socks off while taking care not to offend Auntie Ethel. Words which you may not consider rude will still have the power to make old folks swallow their dentures. To be on the safe side, avoid even mild swears like crap or bloody and avoid lewd references.
Offending the bride or her folks!
Don’t pick a story that’s going to take five minutes to set the scene – quick gags is what you’re after.
And remember not to offend the bride or her parents! They won’t want to hear endless tales about the groom’s failed conquests or how his ex-partners were much better looking. You do want to come across as cheeky with just a few digs – but not a catalogue of flaws!
Detailing the fateful stag weekend
Whatever happened during that awesome Budapest stag do stays between those that were there unless it is suitable for every guest! The worst best man will be so proud of the almighty booze fest that he concocted, that he will be tempted to describe it in tremendous detail, including the stripper that turned out to be bloke – but all the while will remain oblivious to the audience reaction and will plough on regardless.
Getting obliterated before you give your speech
It’s tempting to have a couple of drinks for courage but don’t embarrass yourself! Adrenaline can increase the effect of alcohol and the evidence on photos will haunt you for life. Chances are you’ll also slur your words or include all those lewd jokes you so carefully took out when refining your lines. Save the drinking for your big toast!
How many shots are appropriate before a best man speech?— John Sharkman (@JohnSharkman) October 23, 2015
Thinking you are the star of the show
While you have a big part on the day, it’s not all about you, so remember not to milk your position and don’t drone on and on. A good speech, which encompasses all the key points, should be no longer than 10 minutes… otherwise you will lose your audience for good.
Use the power of Google
You could start by Googling the name of your groom – could you accidentally (on purpose) confuse him with a criminal or amusing character? Or look into the meanings behind his first or surname – for example, if his surname means powerful, his first name could mean ‘not very’. Horoscopes always provide an entertaining source for starting off your speech.
Interrogate his nearest and dearest
You may know the groom better than most but you will almost certainly require some help from folk who were around at the times when you didn’t know the groom… you could approach close relatives – siblings are always good for gossip or funny childhood stories, while parents will provide the funny stuff from their time as a toddler.
If you know the groom from school, approach a few of his university or work mates. The stag do is a great time to gather some anecdotes from his nearest and dearest.
If you know the bride or the bridesmaids, talk to them. Their perspective on the groom is likely to be insightful, and very different to your own. They can also give you interesting behind-the-scenes information about the preparations for the wedding.
Q & A
You could collaborate with the chief bridesmaid and get the bride and groom to play a game of Mr and Mrs on the stag and hen dos.
The bride’s point of view is likely to be very different to the groom’s. Ask them both, separately, obviously, the same questions, then compare and contrast their responses. For example:
- When you first met, what was your first impression?
- What first attracted you?
- What is your favourite thing about them/ their favourite thing about you?
If their answers match, it should make a complimentary way to sum up your speech, if they don’t…then let the heckling begin.
A best man’s speech shouldn’t take any longer than the groom’s performance tonight. So ladies and gentlemen – I give you Mr and Mrs Smith. (Take drink and sit down). I’ve been a bit nervous about this speech. This is the third time today that I have stood up from a warm seat with pieces of paper in my hand. Ladies & gentlemen, it’s been such an exciting day that I’m absolutely speechless… which is probably very good news for most of you. “I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest? I’d like to thank the hotel venue, without whom this would never have been possible. I really do mean it when I say the bride and groom will be in their debt forever. It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to speak about someone intelligent, respected and admired. Unfortunately tonight I have to talk about (NAME). I have no idea why my position here tonight is called the Best Man. If I’m the Best Man, how come (NAME) is the one getting married? (NAME) you’re a wonderful woman, who deserves a wonderful husband. And I’m not going to rest until I get to the bottom of what’s gone wrong here. I’d like to assure you all that we are unlikely to have any problems this evening with any of (GROOM’S) ex-girlfriends showing up. I think they are all out celebrating. They say that if you want to know what your wife will look like in 30 years, you only need to look at their mother (turns to bride’s mother and, using appropriate voice) I’m looking; and I’m liking…”