We don’t have to tell you that being asked to serve as best man is an honor. We also don’t have to tell you that it involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work, not limited to serving as a mentor for the groom leading up to the Big Day, planning a bachelor party and delivering the much-anticipated best man speech at the wedding. To help you nail the latter, we reached out to a few industry pros who were eager to share their tips.
Include These Five Key Components
“There are five essential parts to a best man speech,” says Katelyn Stanis, wedding vow and speech writer, and founder of Wedding Words. Include them all and you’re one step closer to nailing it.
- Introduce yourself, including how you met the groom, how long you’ve known each other and what your friendship has been like over the years.
- Share a memory or two focusing on why you admire the groom. Funny stories work, too, but avoid anything raunchy or embarrassing (more on this below).
- Share your (positive) feelings about his new spouse.
- Express your excitement about the newlywed’s relationship and why you think they’re great together.
- Close out your best man speech with well-wishes for the couple and raise a glass for a seamless finish.
Keep it Brief
One of the biggest mistakes people make with best man speeches is rambling on and on. The experts we spoke to all agree that the sweet spot is between three to seven minutes long, with a max run time of 10 minutes only if the speech is that good.
“Any longer [than this] and you start to lose the interest of your audience,” says Ali Barone, an event planner and founder of NYC-based Ali Barone Events. “Remember, no one needs a chronological dissertation of your relationship, adolescent misadventures and all you have done together in the last decade. Everyone is there for the bride and groom, and your toast will be one of three or four.”
If you hate the idea of public speaking, Stanis says that a one to two minute speech is OK, as long as you “make sure you cover a few of the key components, such as stating what you admire about the groom, what you admire about his partner and why you’re happy that they’re married.”
Skip the Embarrassing Stories
You’ve probably been to a wedding where the best man gave a speech that genuinely moved you, and you’ve probably been to a wedding where the speech made you cringe. Don’t be guilty of the latter by recounting embarrassing stories, talking about exes, previous sexcapades, “rough patches” in the relationship, or divulging ultra-personal details.
“Unfortunately, the best man speech has this reputation for embarrassing the groom and making guests uncomfortable. As a professional wedding speech writer, I want best men to reclaim this moment as something people admire and feel honored to hear,” says Stanis. “It’s a big deal to have your friend ask you to say something at his wedding and in front of the people most important to him. Take that responsibility seriously and treat him with respect by delivering a speech that will remind him why he chose you to be his best man.”
When in Doubt, Enlist Some Help
“Know that you don’t have to struggle with writing this important and very public speech. There are professional speech writing services that can help you,” says Stanis. “At Wedding Words, I work with best men to make sure they feel confident, and that guests are raving about their speech all night.”
If you don’t have access to a speech writer, the internet is your best friend. Watch videos on YouTube, as well.
Practice Makes Perfect
In the same way you’d practice giving a presentation at work, it’s important to prepare for your speech delivery ahead of the actual wedding day.
“Practicing will help reduce anxiety and create a natural flow, thus making the speech memorable and sincere, ” says Gail Johnson, a wedding planner based in greater Atlanta. “Find time to practice your speech out loud in front of a mirror at least once or twice before the wedding day. Then, on the day of the wedding, make sure the speech is saved on your phone, printed or both. It is always a good idea to reread the speech again right before you speak.”
Stanis agrees, adding that “the more you practice, the more confident you will become.” Even those who are normally nervous speakers can squash many of their nerves with diligent practice. As you prepare, remember the relationship you have with the groom and the honor it is to speak in front of his new partner and closest friends and family, which can give you more courage as well.