Giving a Best Man Speech

Tips for Success

A best man preparing to give a speech

 Ned Frisk/Getty Images

If you have been asked to be the best man in a wedding, that typically means you'll have to make a toast at the reception as it generally falls within the duties of the best man. While it may seem a bit intimidating to be put on the spot at such an important event, there are simply rules of thumb that can guide you along the way.

What Is a Best Man Speech?

The best man speech is a short, heartfelt, and often humorous speech given by the best man (usually the groom's best friend or brother) as the reception is getting underway. The groom will usually stand and call the attention of the guests by gently tapping a spoon against his glass. In many cases, guests will be provided with a glass of champagne to join you in your toast.

The speech is usually shorter than five minutes long, and it typically reflects on the speaker's experience with the groom and the happy couple, culminating in a toast that includes best wishes for a happy marriage. In many cases, the best man speech includes a few jokes, but its purpose is always to set a positive, loving tone for the couple's life together.

Do's and Don'ts of Giving a Best Man Speech

DO:

  • Do keep it personal. Draw from the experiences you've shared with the groom and include important memories you've made together. If you have any questions about which memories might be too personal to share, ask the groom's permission before sharing them.
  • Do make a joke or two. A little playful humor from your friendship with the groom makes for a great addition to a best man's speech. 
  • Do take the time to say what you want to say. Feel free to take your time without rushing through your speech. As the best man, you're an important part of the wedding, so enjoy your moment to toast your best bro!
  • Do say thanks. Make sure to thank the people who helped make the day possible, especially the parents of the bride and groom, or whoever is hosting the wedding.
  • Do try to relax before you get up to speak. Take a couple of deep breaths, and you'll be fine!

DON'T:

  • Don't make it embarrassing. Playful teasing is fine but don't go out of your way to humiliate the groom on his special day!
  • Don't be vulgar. Be respectful to both the bride and the groom by staying away from any taboo or off-color stories. If you're not familiar with the cultural practices of either family, be sure to ask before making any assumptions. For example, off-color jokes may be fine in some groups and upsetting in others.
  • Don't steal the spotlight. Your role as best man is to highlight and congratulate the groom and his new wife, so don't hog the spotlight. 
  • Don't forget their names. You may be closer to the groom than the bride, so make 100% sure you get her name right! Same goes for any family members you mention during your speech.
  • Don't drink too much. You might want to have a cocktail to calm your nerves before your toast, but be careful not to drink so much that you can't keep your composure.

Writing a Best Man Speech

Since you have been chosen as the best man, you know the groom very well and have a great amount of material to pull from for your toast or speech. 

In this article, tips for giving a best man toast, you'll find how to approach the task, including the beginning, middle, and end. You may also want to look through our collection of short sample wedding toasts for inspiration.

Example of a Best Man Speech

Everyone—if I could get your attention. I'd like to say a few words. My name is Mark, and I have the great fortune of being both a great friend of the bride and the older—and wiser—brother of the groom, as well as the best man. 

You older brothers in the room will know what I mean when you say you never expect your younger brother to grow up. Somehow, in your mind, he will always be the guy pestering you to borrow your bike, or going on his first date, or stealing your favorite comic book and then leaving it out in the rain even though he knew you loved it! But clearly, that's ancient history!
And then one day, you turn around, and he's graduating from college, and coming out with you to the bars, and begging you to introduce him to your attractive and smart friend. Or in his words at the time, "Come on! She's hot, and you've already got a girlfriend."
Truth be told, other friends had asked me to introduce them to Julie before, and I'd often dodge the task, if only because I knew Julie to be a genuine catch, and I wanted to make sure I set her up with the right person. So when Jason asked me, I admit, I procrastinated some. But fortunately, Jason isn't one to wait around. One day, I was surprised to see them deep in conversation, and they both had this spark about them that I'd never seen before.


So I may be the older and wiser brother, but in this case, Jason was the smart one because he didn't let a procrastinator get in his way. And I'm so happy he didn't, because Jason and Julie truly bring out the best in each other, encouraging each other's curiosities, supporting each other through the tough times, and cheering each other on always.

Now, if you'll all join me in raising a glass to our happy couple, Jason and Julie. May the joys you share today be the beginning of a lifetime of great happiness and fulfillment. Congratulations.

Tips for Success

The key to a successful best man's speech is to stick to tried and true conventions. A little humor, a little friendly ribbing, a fond memory, a positive thought for now and the future. A wedding is not the time for improvisation or edgy performances!

  • Be yourself. No matter your speech style, as long as you speak from the heart, and keep it simple and personal, your best man speech will go perfectly. While you should be yourself, you should be your best self.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. If you have to ask yourself "how will his mother feel if I mention this in public," don't mention it. Stick with material that even Grandma will smile at.
  • Be positive. You may have questions about whether the happy couple will really be all that happy together. Now is not the time to bring those questions up. Remember: this is a wedding!
  • Be respectful. As the best man, part of your job is to maintain the right tone throughout the wedding and reception. Remember that, in most cases, two families are putting a great deal of time, money, love, and hope into this wedding; your speech can help validate that.