The role of the best man isn’t just about planning a killer bachelor party.
Not only are they there to back up the groom by remembering cumberbundts and cufflinks, running interference with troublesome relatives, and working with the maid of honor to ensure everything goes according to plan.
But to top it off, they are usually expected to offer a speech and a toast to the newly married couple.
Not everyone is an expert orator. After all, public speaking is the number one fear for nearly 75% of the population in the United States. If this is you, you have come to the right place.
The secret to writing a best man speech is to balance humor with sentimentality.
Read on to learn how to write the best “best man speech”.
What is Your Relationship with the Groom?
Have you been best friends since the sixth grade? Did you meet at work and click instantly? Are you a brother/son/father/cousin?
Breaking down what your relationship with the groom is will help you figure out what kind of speech suits you best. A best man speech for your brother is going to be very different than one for your father.
Here are some recommendations for the tone you should shoot for:
If the groom is your best friend, it’s alright to lean on humor and funny anecdotes to get the point across.
Avoid inappropriate jokes: anything having to do with sex, illegal activities (including drugs), and other embarrassing content.
Innuendo is alright as long as you can do it well.
Avoid inside jokes! The speech is for everyone present to engage with.
If the groom is your brother or a relative of the same age as you, a playful or humorous tone is appropriate, but don’t forget to add more sentimental moments.
If you’re the older brother, talk about how much the groom has grown up.
If you’re the younger brother, talk about how you always (or never, if you want some laughs) looked up to him.
Graciously welcome the bride to your family.
If the groom is an older relative, such as your father, temper your humor towards an older crowd.
For example, while you can roast your father about his ugly golf pants, don’t talk about why your mother divorced him
If the groom is your son, you may want to wax poetically about the man your boy has grown to be. That’s a good starting point. After all, you have a very unique perspective of your son and who he was and who he’s growing to be. Again, tread carefully with jokes. Joking about how he didn’t learn to wipe his butt until he was a teenager isn’t cool.
If you are the best woman to the groom, make sure the speech focuses on the groom’s relationship with the bride.
No matter who you are to either of these people, whether you’re married, straight, or just honest-to-goodness best friends, people who don’t know you well are going to speculate on your relationship with the groom.
By turning the focus back towards his beautiful bride, you can take the focus off of yourself and put it right back on the couple.
Best Man Speech Outline
You don’t want your speech to be long and rambling, so it’s a good idea to start with an outline and stick to that.
Here’s a good best man speech template to get you started:
- Great opening line
- Jokes (if you’re having them, otherwise keep this part lighter in tone)
- Sentimentality (no matter what kind of speech you’re writing, you need to inject some earnest feelings)
- Come back to the jokes/or back to a lighter tone
- Closing lines and the toast
Best Man Speech Opening Lines
Every good speech needs a good icebreaker, something that is going to grab everyone’s attention and keep it.
For that reason, we suggest writing your opening line last.
Instead, start with the first thing you can think of. When you’re starting to write your best man speech, brainstorm ideas by using the phrase, ‘I remember…’ as a leaping off point.
This is a good way to highlight those things about your relationship with the groom that are most important, the things that make up your relationship with the best man and set it apart, such as:
“I remember when Steve and I wound up getting kicked out of Macy’s for having a perfume fight.”
“I remember when he came to my house when we found out about Mom’s car accident. He wanted to be the first person to make sure I was OK.”
“I remember when we used to fight over who got to play StarFox in Super Smash Brothers!”
“I remember when he went to Italy and we didn’t talk for a whole year but when he came home, he gave me the biggest hug.”
“I remember the first time he called me from college and told me he was nervous and scared to be away from home. We made a pact to call one another every other day and we still do.”
Select the one that is the most prominent in your mind, or the one that really encompasses your relationship with the groom.
Rewrite it like you’re addressing the audience. Add humor if it’s appropriate, or sentimentality.
The rest of these memories can be scattered throughout the speech as you see fit.
Best Man Speech Tips
Start and finish strong
Most people are going to remember your beginning and ending the best, so save these spaces for your best jokes, anecdotes, or mushy bits.
Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your speech!
Start on it as early as possible, preferably when the groom asks you to be their best man.
You don’t have to finish it right away, but this way you can write notes and ideas down as they come to you, instead of planning last minute and being unable to think of anything because you’re too nervous.
My fiance was going to officiate a friend’s wedding, and he mentioned that he wanted to memorize it. “No!” I shouted. “There’s no reason to do this!”
This isn’t Speech and Debate Class.
If you try to memorize your best man speech, you’re just putting extra stress on yourself.
Good orators use notes, even if they’re talking off the top of their heads.
Have notes or even a written-out best man speech will make you more confident and make the speech seem more natural.
Remember: you aren’t getting graded.
Leave some stories out
You may have a great story about how the groom got so wasted in college and woke up in bed with a stranger.
That’s a great story for the bachelor party.
While it’s fine to be a little blue or racy during your speech, follow best man speech etiquette: if you wouldn’t say it to grandma’s face, don’t say it here. And if you absolutely have to get blue, use innuendo.
Keep it snappy
Think about it like this: the average time for a non-religious wedding ceremony is 15-20 minutes.
Your best man speech doesn’t need to be that long at all.
Three to five minutes is MORE than enough; you can even get away with shorter.
This is supposed to be the best day of the groom’s life.
While there’s always the old stereotype that men hate marriage, don’t do that. It’s not classy, and most couples don’t find it funny.
With that, avoid negative topics, like previous marriages or divorces, illegal activity (like drugs, driving drunk, and more), and sex.
One quote max
Some people like to quote or read things during their speeches. Like the Bible, or some love poetry.
That’s fine, but keep it short and limit to to only one quote.
It’s a good way to fill out space, but no one wants to sit through another 15 minutes speech.
Read the room
During the cocktail hour before dinner and speeches, get a good survey of the room.
Are most of the people at this wedding older? Are there a lot of children? What are the general politics?
The best man’s speech is not a chance to spit out something pithy about the current president and risk offending half the room.
Get a feel for the room and do some last minute edits as needed
It ain’t all about you
A big mistake some people make is highlighting their lives with the groom.
That’s alright to a certain extent.
If you’re going to talk about how the groom inspired you and helped you start your own business, it’s not a plug for your business. It’s about how great the groom is.
Use a fact, then pivot
State something as a fact, then pivot to more, intimate information about it.
Such as, “Dan and I went to high school together at Ferris High School.” Fact.
“When Dan was in high school, he had no game with the ladies.” Pivot to a joke.
Make fun of his quirks, but not his lifestyle choices or his career
You can joke about him eating bread with just mayonnaise on it, but don’t joke about his unconventional dream of running a clown school. As silly as it is, it’s still important to him.
Don’t add new players
When you’re telling a story, the only people you should be referencing are the bride, the groom, and on a much smaller scale, yourself.
If you say, “Once in high school, me and Anthony were hanging out with… I think it was Bill, John, and Travis, right?
Well, Travis at the time was super into karate and he wanted to teach me and Anthony, but he didn’t know that Emily and Sally…” boring and confusing to read, right?
Don’t make 80-150 people be bored to death by it either.
Best Man Speech Ending
The ending should be the second-to-last thing that you write. You’ll be summing up the speech without repeating it exactly.
And then comes the most important part: the toast. Yes, even if there’s no alcohol at this event, you will be expected to do a toast to the bride and groom.
Here’s some examples of how to end a best man speech:
“So this is to Charlie and Jasmine, who have been there for each and every one of us. This is your day, the first day of your new life together.”
“Please join me in raising a glass to Amanda and Tom. May you have a hundred years of happiness together.”
“If you could all raise your glasses– no, Mr. Turnblat, the one with champagne, not the ones on your face– to the bride and the groom.”
“And now for the toast. Everyone knows that the best toast out there is French toast. So, aux mariés, j’offre une vie d’amour à vous deux.
Best Man Speech Jokes & One-Liners
Sometimes it can be difficult to think of jokes if you aren’t a natural born comedian, so we have compiled a list of short one-liners and best man speech jokes that may help you.
If the groom is a bad singer:
“We all know that Tim is a great singer [pause for questionable laughter]. I love listening to him sing solo. [pause] So low, no one can hear him.”
Some light innuendo:
“It sure is a perfect day for a wedding. It’s nice out. So nice out, [bride] should leave it out until they get back to the hotel.
If the groom played football:
“Just some last messages here to read out: one from [groom’s] football team to [bride] – Apologies we couldn’t all be there today, good luck with [groom], we found him to be useless in most positions but wishing you all the best for tonight.”
If the groom has a lot of hobbies:
“Kayaking, tennis, 5k running, model airplane building, fixing sinks… is there anything you can do?”
If the groom is short:
“I’m going to keep this speech like [groom]– short and not very funny.”
A good, general roast:
“I’d also like to congratulate [groom] on a truly magnificent speech. I always knew it would be hard to follow and I was right, I could hardly follow a word of it.”
“You’ve got no idea how much I’ve been looking forward to today. After all the time I’ve been friends with [groom], he has at long last admitted that I am in fact the best man.”
If you’re super nervous:
“I have no problem admitting to you all that I’m extremely nervous right now. And those of you in the front should be warned– I tend to throw up when I’m nervous. You’re sitting in the splash zone.”
Best Man Speech Examples
Funny Best Man Speech
“Hello everyone, if you don’t know me, my name’s Sam and I’ve been Brendan’s best friend since the first grade, when we were both six years old.
If you didn’t know Brendan when he was six, don’t worry; he had the same hair cut, the same mischevious smile, and he still dribbled food everywhere when he ate.
Hey Brendan? You know you have to return that tux in good shape, right? Keep away from the minestone!
Just kidding. Sorry, sorry. It’s been an emotional day. Even the cake is in tiers.
Everyone can see that Mary makes the perfect bride. Not only is she beautiful, but she’s kind, caring, and supportive, and she deserves the best man.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get what we deserve.
So where do I start with Brendan? Well, for starters he’s handsome, witty, intelligent, he’s charm…sorry…Brendan, I’m having trouble reading your handwriting. You can tell me the rest later.
Brendan has been there for me during the worst of times. Brendan has caused some of those bad times, like when he thought it would be a good idea to go off-roading in my mom’s mini-van.
Yeah, I’m still grounded for that.
But Danielle, you need not worry. I can say from experience than Brendan is the perfect partner in crime. And even more, he loves you beyond reason.
Like, if you thought he was goofy before he met Danielle, you should have seen him the first night he met her!
So, Danielle and Brendan, here’s to you on this special day.”
Religious Best Man Speech
“Hello everyone, and thank you all for being here today to celebrate with Jessica and Adam.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says, And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Don’t worry, we finished with the church stuff. But when Adam asked me to be his best man, I immediately thought of this verse in regards to him.
Faith. Adam is faithful.
Not just in the sense that he’s faithful to Jessica. That goes without saying. But he is faithful to his friends when he shows up to every single one of our acapella shows to support us.
He is faithful to his church community because he not only attends church, he participates in church. You won’t come into our church and see Adam falling asleep in the pews.
He is partaking. He is planning the canned food drive. He is helping fund the youth retreat.
Adam is also a faithful son to his parents. He takes his mother to her tai chi classes every day. He spends half his weekend mowing his own lawn, and then the other half mowing his parents.
He respects their wisdom.
Hope. Adam is hopeful. Hopeful that his relationship with Jessica will be fruitful with children and love. Hopeful that people can treat one another better. Hopeful to be prosperous in his work.
Love. Adam loves.
Adam loves me, even though we sometimes disagree.
And it’s not even that Adam loves– he shows his love.
He shows his love for humanity by being the first person to help someone struggling with a door. Or by letting people into his lane when he’s driving. Or by giving to charity and volunteering his time.
Love is the greatest of these, says Corinthians.
Jessica, Adam, you have so much love ahead of you. God bless.”
Brother Best Man Speech
“When I was five, I asked my parents for a Nintendo 64. I got a baby brother instead. I think there’s probably a pawn shop I could still trade them in, somewhere?
Matthew has been my built-in number one fan since the day he learned how to talk. Wherever I went, he was right behind.
When I started high school, and he was still in elementary, he clung to my leg and cried for thirty minutes.
So yes, Sarah, he is pretty clingy. So be careful.
I’m pretty sure that Matthew has always been the favorite for our parents. He could get away with anything!
One time, he brought this really ugly, smelly kid home from school with him.
Mom was so angry, but it wasn’t like she could do anything. I lived there.
Also, I don’t know how many people know this, but my brother is a total narc.
He caught me making out with a girl at the lake and ran straight home to tell Mom an Dad.
Another time, he caught me smoking cigarettes and when I didn’t give him one, who do you imagine he told?
I used to call getting grounded, ‘Getting Matthewed.’ So, if anyone here wants to engage in illegal activity… don’t trust my brother.
But let’s talk about Sarah.
Sarah, you are too good for us.
Seriously. Why didn’t you find some other family to move into? This one is way too rowdy and gross. I mean, you should have known the first time you saw Matthew.
By the way, did anyone know that Sarah is a sculptor? She took this lump of mishapen, discarded, preschool Play-Doh that is somehow my brother and turned it into something vaguely resembling a man.
It’s not a perfect job, but we shouldn’t hold Sarah responsible for that. She could only do so much.
So, to my old brother and my new sister, I love you both so much!
May you have many blessed years to come.”
Same-Sex Best Man Speech
“When David first came out to me in high school, I in no way imagined that this was where we’d wind up.
We didn’t really know one another at the time, so I don’t know why he thought I was a safe person to come out to. But here we are.
A few years ago, this wedding would have been impossible from a legal standpoint.
David has been through so much to make this a reality.
I won’t pretend I know what it’s like, but I have done my best to be there for him, just like how he was there for me throughout my dad’s cancer.
He took a week off of work to sit with my at Dad’s hospice bed. He went on beer runs; he started card games; he told jokes and memories of my dad.
This made Dad’s finally hours pleasant, but more than that, it helped me and my family transition back to normal life.
That’s just the type of friend the David is.
But we don’t need to talk about those sad things.
We get to talk about how lovely a couple he and Terrance are.
David and Terrance are here for only two reasons: one, that they fell in love. And two, they need new bathroom towels.
And we’re here because we were a part of that love story, and because they trust us to have good taste.
Any one of us can remember going to their cookouts in the summer, feasting with them on Thanksgiving, or even spending the holidays with them because we had nowhere else to go.
David and Terrance have opened their homes and their hearts to each and every one of us and expected nothing in return.
So, if you’re here because you know Terrance but you haven’t gotten to meet David quite yet– don’t worry.
Your man is in the very best of hands.
Let’s do something that was impossible five years ago and raise a glass to these two wonderful men.”
Questions Every Best Man Should Ask Themselves
Instead, pay her the normal platitudes, but focus your speech on the groom. “Doesn’t Susan look beautiful today, everyone?” or, “Jesse is lucky to have found someone that he cares about so very much.” Don’t go overboard. It will look inauthentic.
Should I include props, like a PowerPoint presentation, video, or audio recordings of the groom?
Only if it suits the wedding. Don’t record the groom drunkenly telling you how much he loves the bride. Or just a random video of him doing a sick flip on a skateboard in high school.
For example, I recently attended a friend’s wedding where the Father of the Bride played us a tape of the bride when she was 12-years-old singing, “Going to the Chapel.” That’s appropriate and really made his speech authentic and adorable. Please don’t do a PowerPoint presentation.