Tips for Writing a Killer Best Man Speech
By Diana Ganz on 2017-12-28
Congratulations on being the best man! You now have one of the most important responsibilities when it comes to your best bud’s wedding. No, we’re not talking about planning the bachelor party. You must give a memorable best man speech that is both funny and heartfelt. No big deal. You got this. It will only set the tone for the wedding prior to dinner and put a spotlight on you in front of every guest. If you nail it, you will bask in the everlasting glory of being THAT eloquent and charismatic friend of the groom. It’s a small prestigious club that few people make it into. To help, the SuitShop team has enlisted Terry Schilling, recent groom and men’s lifestyle guru, and David Rothstein, owner of one of Chicago’s best music and entertainment companies. Each have provided tips to writing an amazing best man speech that will become a fond memory for the married couple.
So, where do you begin? First, let’s get some logistical things out of the way:
- Have a drink beforehand, but don’t be drunk
- Hold the microphone up to your mouth
- Best to err on keeping it shorter
- You only have to give credit to quotes, not websites you used for inspiration
- Make eye contact with the entire room
- Don’t wing it
Let’s repeat. DO NOT WING IT! Terry and David recommend you start this task about 2-3 months before the wedding. The creation of a great wedding speech should never be rushed. We’ve all been to weddings where the best man thought he could just wing it only to offer an awkward few minutes of crickets and uncomfortable jokes that no one remembers. Please don’t be that guy. Come prepared and make your toast memorable.
Before you even put words on paper, David recommends taking some time to evaluate what you feel most comfortable with. He explains, “If you’re not a naturally funny guy, don’t put pressure on yourself to write something funny or at least limit it to what you feel comfortable with. If you are a funny, gregarious guy, be sure to share some comical stories all the guest, including the parents, would fine entertaining. If you are more of a sentimental person, be sincere.”
From his own experience, Terry found it helpful to reflect on his friendship and memories he shared with the groom. Consider following questions to help inspire talking points:
- How did you meet your best friend?
- How has his friendship enriched your life? What have you learned from him?
- What funny stories instantly come to mind when you think of your friendship?
- How did your friend describe the bride or groom when they first met?
- What was the groom like before he met this person?
- What are ways that he has changed since they got together?
- How would you describe the two together?
Be sure to take some time with these thoughts and put responses down on paper. This will help you get your thoughts in order and you will be able to craft an awesome speech.
During this period of reflection, a little self-evaluation of your comfortability with public speaking is in order. Do you fear public speaking? Most people do. In fact, public speaking is considered the top thing most people are afraid of. It is actually listed as the number one phobia followed by the fear of death. Yes, death is second in line after public speaking. The good news is, there are a few really effective ways you can manage your anxiety. Having a plan for your speech is the first step in staying calm and giving a great performance. If your fear of public speaking is really debilitating, you can talk to your doctor about medical solutions to reducing the physical effects of stage fright.
Kicking it off…
It all begins with an introduction of yourself. This will help calm your nerves and even if you’re super nervous about public speaking, you won’t screw up saying who you are. Terry recommends encouraging laughter right from the start. “Delivering a funny one-liner or a behind the scenes story about the day is a great way to break the ice.” He adds, “Once you hear those laughs the rest will be smooth sailing.”
While humor is important, David and Terry both recommend limiting the number of jokes and pointing them all at yourself or the groom, but never the bride.
Say your Thank You’s…
Soon after you start, a natural next step is to say a brief thank you and recognize a few people. In addition to thanking the couple’s parents for putting together the lovely event it’s always nice recognize the other speakers and members of the wedding party. Like you, they’ve played a significant role in the day and the couple’s lives.
Bring it back to the couple…
Whether this is saying how you could tell your friend was in love the moment he met the bride/groom or a funny story of how they met, it’s important to talk about them as a couple. Terry advises, “Don’t spend all the time talking about the groom. I’ve heard speeches where there are multiple stories of the groom and best man and although they may be funny, nobody there wants to relive your dumb college or adolescent days."
Instead, speak from the heart, tell the bride how beautiful she looks and how lucky your friend is. The speech is meant to be about how happy you are for them as a couple. This is a great opportunity to mention how the groom has become a better man and/or the happiest you’ve ever seen him because of the bride. “Maybe there is a funny before/after comparison of the groom you can make that will bring a laugh or two,” adds Terry.
Topics to avoid…
The goal is to bring the house down with an amazing best man speech and NOT because you offended people in the room. For this reason, there are some places you must not go. As a recent groom, Terry explains, “You may think it’s funny or that your friend will like it but remember, he’s in front of family and close friends, grandparents, and kids. Don’t make peoples’ jaw drop for the wrong reasons.” Here is his list of subjects to avoid and things not to do:
- Don’t talk about sex or hooking up. If you do, expect the bride’s father to pull you aside later.
- Don’t talk negatively about love or marriage. A wedding is about celebrating that, don’t be a buzzkill.
- Don’t get drunk. You won’t be taken seriously if you sway back and forth or slur your words.
- Don’t bring up exes. No further explanation needed.
- Don’t tell an embarrassing story that involves sex, drugs, alcohol or anything inappropriate.
- Don’t make fun of the bride or anyone in her family.
End with a sentimental toast…
All great speeches have one thing in common, a strong ending. “This is your moment to bring it all together and it should begin by asking everyone to raise their glasses.” Terry adds, “It’s the perfect moment offer a love quote. If there’s a little humor that’s fine.” Recap how special of a day this is, how lucky the two are to find each other, and end with a blessing of love, laughter, and happiness for a lifetime.
And there you have it. An amazing best man speech. Don’t be afraid to write down key parts of your speech to reference while you’re talking. Nobody expects you to have it memorized word for word. Just make sure you practice it enough to avoid reading from your notes the whole time. Be confident, have a great opening line, and wrap it up with a loving nod to the couple. Remember, you are the best man for this job! For even more tips check out our post on How to Write a Best Man or Best Woman Speech in 5 Simple Steps by the experts at Wedding Words. And, don’t forget to check out our best man’s checklist.