So the stag do’s done, the suits are sorted and the big day is on the horizon. And while you can’t wait to see your best mate off into married life, there’s one thing that’s been hanging around on your to-do list for far too long: the best man speech.
For some, it’s a chance to shine; to take the stage and have them in stitches. For others, it’s a little more daunting. How do you write a best man speech? What are you supposed to say? Should you include that story – you know the one – or will it be met with shocked silence, gasps from the grandparents and a piercing glare from the groom’s mother?
You may think you don’t know how to write a best man speech, but the good news is this: it’s nowhere near as tricky most people believe. By following Papier’s simple best man speech template, and taking note of our dos and don’ts, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the microphone and delivering an all-time classic…
The Rambler. We’ve all witnessed one. With no plan and no notes, he meanders from one subject to the next, losing more of his audience as he goes. Thirty seconds on how the newlyweds met, 10 minutes on some obscure story from school and…hang on, how has got on to discussing the quality of the canapés?
No one wants to fall into that trap. And the first step to avoiding it is to think about the structure of your best man speech. Before you start writing it, map it out into sections – try writing each of them down, as headings. It’ll make everything else a whole lot easier. And it’ll also mean your speech sounds like a speech – something you’ve crafted rather than a spur-of-the-moment stream of consciousness.
But what sections should you include? Well, to help you on your way, the Papier team have come up with a foolproof best man speech template. Follow our structure to the letter, or use it as your starting point – either way, you won’t go too far wrong:
While you might consider yourself a living legend and the (second) most important man at the wedding, chances are Dave and Gloria from next door have never seen you before in their lives.
So, first things first: introduce yourself. And while you’re at it, some gentle humour in your opening line won’t go amiss (take a look at our best man speech examples further down). It’ll put your audience at ease and get them smiling from the start.
Or two. We’re programmed as humans to love storytelling, and a good tale is what a lot of the guests will be waiting for.
It might be that your groom is the type of guy who’s always getting into scrapes, a goldmine of speech material. Or it might be that he’s a little more secretive and reluctant to reveal any ‘dirt’.
The point here is: don’t worry if you don’t have the World’s Most Shocking Story. What matters (much) more is to give everyone a sense of your best mate as you know him – and to make them laugh along the way.
Think about how you two met; what he was like back then. Delve into his awkward teenage years. Consider his hobbies and interests, his defining traits. Remember those times he’s made more than a bit of a fool of himself. You might even find it helpful to team up with some mates and make a quick list of ‘Things/Stories About The Groom’.
All in all, you’ll soon find that even the most modest of tales can be spun into wedding-day gold.
The beauty of a best man speech is that you get to make people laugh. And there’s no better feeling. So embrace it: make some jokes! (You know he’d do the same.) Build them into your stories, or throw in a few one-liners. A best-man-speech audience need no excuse to laugh, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get a chuckle.
But remember: don’t be inappropriate. Yes, there’s sometimes room to ‘walk the line’ a little in a best man speech, but you’re not an avant-garde stand-up comedian. A wedding is among the most mixed audiences you can imagine: there’ll be children, parents, grandparents and maybe even a boss or two among the guests. That thing that happened between him and his ex at uni may be funny on your WhatsApp group, but would you tell his better half’s grandma about it?
Our tip is to err on the side of caution. Remember, you’re not there to shock, you’re there to make sure the whole audience has fun. So, if you’re not sure, take it out – or at the very least, check with someone else (your partner, another friend or even the groom).
A best man speech shouldn’t just be a series of in-jokes between you and your best mate. The reason you’re all here is to celebrate both him and his new spouse, so be sure to remember that in your speech.
You could talk about how the two of them met, or what they’re like together. Or comment on how your groom’s partner has changed his life for the better. This is also a good time to mention how great you, as a friend, think the bride or other groom is (and gents, we’re talking about something a little more meaningful than a stock-phrase comment about their outfit).
Whatever it is, it’s a good overall rule to make sure the speech is inclusive. And while you’re at it, take care to avoid anything that might upset your friend’s new husband or wife in other parts of your speech – particularly past relationship history…
This is a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime chance to tell two great people just how great they are. Sure, you should probably avoid sinking into a 10-minute panegyric that ends with you tearfully yelling ‘I love you man!’ in the direction of the top table, but please – don’t forget to balance out all the mickey-taking with something more meaningful.
Let the newlyweds know how much they mean to you. It’s your best friend and his chosen partner for life; if you can’t tell them now, when can you?
You could even venture to offer some words of advice on their future together. How serious those words are is up to you – you don’t want to get too preach-y here, and chances are you’re not a professional relationship counsellor. But a couple of heartfelt thoughts to send them on their way will be appreciated.
You started confidently and the audience have been on board ever since, laughing at your stories and shedding a happy tear at your words of praise and gratitude. But the first dance and the groom’s aunty’s Beyoncé impression beckon; it’s time to wrap things up.
The most important thing? Be positive and end on a high note. Don’t mumble ‘cheers’ and suddenly sit down – and don’t stand up on the table and ‘drop the mic’ either (please, please don’t ‘drop the mic’).
Instead, comment on what a great day it’s been, what a great night there is to come, and think about finishing on a toast. It’s a good way to bring everyone together in celebration at the end of the speech.
The subject of the toast is up to you; but you can’t go wrong with a simple ‘To [Name] and [Name]!’ (you could also go for titles and surnames if you know which they’re planning on using as a married couple).
Plan ahead and write notes (we’ve got some spot-on notecards you could use; a best man should look the part, after all)
Check any potentially controversial material with someone else, perhaps even the groom (or just play it safe and don’t include it)
Practice! Do as many practice runs as you can, either on your own or in front of others. Speak loud, speak clear, and don’t speak too fast. Revel in it and enjoy it – the audience will be on your side
Remember to K.I.S.S. – Keep It Short and Simple.
Be inappropriate. Think about everyone in the audience, and take particular care not to upset the bride or other groom
Tell in-jokes that only you and the groom find funny – you’ll quickly turn everyone off
Wing it. Preparation is vital, especially if you want to enjoy it. Who wants to stand up in front of 100 people and not know what they’re about to say?
Waffle. A wedding is a long day, and there’ll be other speeches too – so aim to keep yourself to 10 minutes or so.
We know, there are best man speech ideas galore on the internet. But most of them are, well…questionable. So here are a few simple ones from us:
Hello, I’m [Name]…
“…It’s time for me to tell you all about the groom and how handsome, intelligent and – sorry mate, I’m struggling to read your writing, what does this next word say?”
“…I’m not saying I’m nervous about this speech, but there’s an entirely uneaten main course and dessert here if anyone fancies it.”
“…The first thing I’d like to say is wow – what an emotional day it’s been so far. Even the cake is in tiers.”
“…I’d like to start by saying what a wonderful man/woman [your friend’s new spouse] is – he/she really does deserve the perfect man. Unfortunately, as will become clear over the next few minutes, you don’t always get what you deserve.”
“I’d like to finish by saying what a wonderful day it’s been so far, and what a top night we’ve got ahead of us. So all that remains for me is to ask you all to raise a glass to [Name] and [Name].”
“It’s time for me to wrap up – that cake isn’t going to cut itself. So please be upstanding one last time and join me in a toast to [Name] and [Name].”
“It’ll soon be time for the happy couple’s first dance – and anyone who’s seen [the groom] on a dancefloor is surely looking forward to that, so I’ll keep you no longer. To [Name] and [Name]!”
“[Name] and [Name], I’d like to end by saying what a brilliant couple you are. It’s been an honour to be your best man, and I wish you a lifetime of fun and happiness together. So I’d like to propose a toast: to the newlyweds!”