How To Write A Best Man Speech That Everyone Will Remember Forever

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
best man wedding

If you’ve been asked to be the best man at a friend's (or family member's) wedding, consider it a big deal and a major honor! Sure, it comes with some additional responsibility, but your soon-to-be-married friend wouldn’t have asked you unless they felt you were the... best man for the job.

It might seem like a daunting task, but it's entirely possible to lessen some of the stress load by walking through how to write a best man speech and then delivering it, which can admittedly be a little nerve-wracking.

“A lot of the guests will be coming from all walks of life: childhood friends, college buddies, both immediate and extended family members, and most with nothing to unify them besides their love for the happy couple,” says Abby Gallagher, owner of Blue Orchid Events & Design in Florida.

"These speeches are the one way to verbalize that love for them, and something that a lot of guests look forward to. They all have champagne and drinks, and they are ready to toast to the newlyweds and party on!”

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With wedding expert insight, you can find out how long your best man speech should be, when to deliver it, and what sort of information or ideas to include.

How long should your best man speech be?

This is one of the biggest questions people have when it comes to crafting the perfect speech.

According to Gallagher, "Speeches at weddings should only be two-to-five minutes maximum."

Not only do certain wedding planners or venues want to keep things within a certain time frame, but there's another reason.

"If you let the speeches drag on for too long, you will start noticing the guests looking around the room. It's best to keep them short and sweet with the perfect balance of personalization, wisdom, and link them in with innuendos,” she adds.

When is the best man speech given?

Speeches are typically given at some point during the meal of the wedding reception, often during salads or entrees. Some people wait until just before dessert, but it really depends on the venue and what the wedding planner decides.

Feel out your crowd and follow instructions from the wedding planner on the big day. The best man speech often coincides with the maid of honor's speech, as well as the father of the bride.

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What should you include in your speech?

Writing a best man speech and delivering it is sort of like following a recipe. There are certain elements you should include that will ensure it’s received well by the couple and all the guests.

“Good speeches generally have a few touch points: a funny or charming anecdote and some sentimentality,” says Alyssa Longobucco, former senior style and planning editor for The Knot.

“Always be sure to introduce yourself to the crowd and explain your history with the couple. No matter how many people you may know in attendance, there are bound to be a few wedding guests that have no idea who you are!" Longobucco explains.

"Past that, be sure to speak to your relationship with the groom or both of the newlyweds, how you've seen their relationship progress, and your well-wishes for them going forward."

Both experts agree that while anecdotal stories are great, you really should avoid anything that could be potentially awkward, overly embarrassing, too much of an inside joke, or taboo.

“Humor is great, don't get me wrong, but no one wants to listen to an alphabetized list of all the people their partner dated before them. Plus, if guests listening can't immediately 'get' the punchline of the funny story you're telling, it's probably too much of an inside joke and is best reminisced about over a cocktail later that night," adds Longobucco.

So, avoid the non-endearing stuff and stick to this formula:

1. Introduction and opening lines

2. Your connection to the couple

3. How you’ve seen the relationship blossom (include a personal anecdote here)

4. Congratulations and well-wishes

Pretty simple, huh?

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Best Man Speech Examples

If you're still not sure what exactly to say or are still looking for a little something extra, try out some of these best man speech lines and ideas, provided by Gallagher.

  • “He doesn't worry about much of anything. The only thing I have ever heard him worry about was when he found out I would be doing his best man’s speech.”
  • “I don't have to list the things that [Groom] hates, since there isn't really anything that he does.”
  • “This is one of the big reasons I respect him so much.”
  • “Because of this trait, he has made me become a better person.”
  • “If I am sure of one thing in this speech, it is this: I wouldn't change him for the world. [Bride], you have found yourself a brilliant, charming man.”
  • “I would like to sincerely thank each of the families for hosting this event tonight. This has been a truly joyous occasion."
  • “So, cheers [Bride] and [Groom]. Let’s raise a glass to the couple and to a lifetime of happiness!”

While there's no set best man speech template, as long as you put some thought into what you say, the wedding guests (and the bride and groom) will listen intently.

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Best Man Speech Tips & Advice

Now that you know what to include in your best man speech and how long it should be, let’s go over a few tips that will ensure you nail the delivery.

1. Practice ahead of time.

To help find a good cadence and work out any kinks in your speech, do a few run-throughs of your best man toast. It's even better if you have a few people there to give you some feedback.

“The more you feel like you have a handle on the cadence of your speech and the contents, the less nervous you'll be day-of. You can even go one step further and have a great friend record a video of you practicing so you can catch where you need to slow down or speak more clearly,” Longobucco suggests.

2. Stay positive and appropriate.

Because a wedding day is such a happy occasion, it's essential to not only steer clear of negativity, but to remain appropriate as well. Don't roast the couple or make down-putting jokes, or make jokes you wouldn't tell in front of your own family.

You should also be sure to avoid making negative remarks. As Longobucco says, "If you don't like the person your friend is marrying, now is not the time to bring that up.”

3. Find a nice pace.

As you practice your great best man speech, be sure to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and project your voice.

“It may feel weird at first since speaking in front of a crowd — and speaking to be heard in a large room — isn't natural for most people,” Longobucco says.

4. Grab their attention.

During the wedding speeches, when it's time to make your own toast, the best way to get everyone's attention is by standing confidently at the front of the room and appearing genuinely excited to give your speech.

“Often, a DJ or band member will cue that a speech is coming, but if they don't, feel free to click your glass or signal their attention in some other way,” Longobucco advises.

You’ve got this!

5. Limit your alcohol.

With the day of a wedding being incredibly exciting, many bridal parties begin drinking long before the wedding. But because you are intending to give a speech letting your friend know what a great guy he is, as well as his bride, it's best to remain as sober as possible.

You don't want to write the perfect speech and then end up slurring your words through it. Or, worst case scenario, forgetting what you were going to say altogether!

6. Be yourself.

When all eyes are on you, it can make you nervous to deliver. But you don't need to change who you are while delivering your speech. If you are inclined to tell a few jokes, do so; if you want to go more sentimental, it's perfectly fine to go this route.

Remember that your friend chose you specifically to be their best man. So, remain true to who you are! And keep this in mind when writing your speech as well.

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Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She contributes to NBC, Refinery29, Brides, Allure, Spotlyte, Total Beauty, Soko Glam, and others.