Table of Contents
- Quick Answer: How to Write a Best Man Speech Fast (with Template!)
- What to Say in a Best Man Speech (Do’s and Don’ts)
- How to Write a Best Man Speech for Best Friend or Brother: Easy Step-by-Step Guide
- #1 Start with a theme
- #2 Create an outline
- #3 Nail the opening line
- #4 Background context
- #5 Tell the story
- #6 Take-home message
- #7 End your speech with a heartfelt toast
- #8 Use a best man speech template
- #9 Practice your body language
- #10 Rehearse before the big day
- Key Takeaways: Express Gratitude and Sentimentality in 3-5 Minutes
A best man speech is the perfect way to send your brother or friend the best wishes in their marriage, but standing up in front of the crowd can be super nerve-wracking. If you’ve been invited to be the best man at a wedding but have no idea what to say in your speech, you’re not alone!
Over 75% of the population cites public speaking as one of their biggest fears. Thankfully, it’s a people skill that anyone can develop. A great event toast can be a game-changer and make you feel like a celebrity amongst the wedding guests.
Here’s how to overcome your public speaking anxiety and give a knockout best man speech that will incite laughter, smiles, or even sentimental tears.
Quick Answer: How to Write a Best Man Speech Fast (with Template!)
A killer best man toast has a formula:
- Start with a funny or complimentary introduction
- Lead into a short story
- Add a dash of vulnerability
- End with genuine congratulations to the bride and groom.
You won’t want to wing the speech after you’ve had a few drinks when you feel strapped for time before the wedding. Instead, take just 30 minutes of planning and note-making to save you (and the bride & groom) the embarrassment of an excessively long or inappropriate ramble.
If you want to write a best man speech fast, follow this brief template for a great toast. Your toast should be roughly 3 to 5 minutes long. You can use numbered index cards to jot down the highlights of each section. Then, rehearse a few times in the mirror in the days leading up to the event.
The most straightforward speech outline includes seven main components:
- A great one-liner: This could be a funny joke, a compliment, or an inspirational quote about brotherhood or marriage. The first 15 seconds of the toast should capture the audience’s attention and leave them excited for more. Modify this:
“I’d like to begin by congratulating the groom for his superb taste in choosing the best man [chuckle].”
- Compliment the wedding: Build your respect with the guests by highlighting things you like about the wedding. For example, you can compliment the beauty of the venue, the delicious food, or the great choice of music. Modify this:
“All jokes aside, this is a beautiful wedding. The bride and groom look like a movie star couple together. And if you didn’t taste the cake, you are missing out!”
- Express gratitude: Say “thank you” to those who made the wedding possible and show appreciation to the groom for choosing you as his best man. Modify this:
“I am so grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Zimerman for hosting us here today, and thank you to the bride and groom for inviting me to be part of their special day.”
- Tell a story: Did you and the groom meet as kids on the baseball field? Were you there when he first met his bride? Did you share a funny experience in college that is appropriate to share? The “meat” of the speech will be a short story about your relationship with the groom. A great story sounds like this:
“When I first met Jeff, he was in a period of transition in life, like we all go through. He had just started a new job at my office in San Francisco, and we met because of our mutual addiction to double shot espressos (iced with a little cream) at 6 AM every morning from the corner coffee shop Bob’s Cup O’ Joe. When we both arrived at the office at the same time, 3 days in a row with eyes like this [widen eyes big], I knew we would be friends for life. A million espressos, meetings, and after-work beers later, I am so proud to call Jeff my best friend. When he told me about meeting a beautiful blonde named Anne at Bob’s Cup O’ Joe a few years later, I knew something would become of it. She even drank the same double shot espressos, iced with a little cream!”
- Admire the couple: Strengthen your bond with the newlyweds by expressing your support for their marriage. If you know a bit about the bride and groom’s relationship, list a few things you admire about their bond. You may emphasize how the bride has positively impacted the groom’s life or how they make a great team.
“Jeff and Anne are a perfect pair, and it seriously warms my heart to see a couple so amazingly in love. They compliment each other in every way and radiate joy when they are together.”
- Summarize your thoughts: Before you wrap up your speech, go back and highlight your key ideas. You can pre-write 2-3 crisp sentences summarizing your support of the couple’s marriage. Modify this:
“I wish I could say I predicted this day would come, but Jeff’s incredible character and charm won Anne over. I am so grateful to be friends with both of them and to join you all in this celebration.”
- Toast to the future: At the end of your speech, raise your glass for a toast to the couple’s love. Modify this:
“Please join me in raising our glasses to a lifetime of happiness and espressos for Jeff and Anne Allison!”
Here is an awesome example of a short and sweet 4-minute toast that left the crowd cracking up:
It’s best to memorize your speech, but there is no shame in bringing a few index cards in your pocket to reference if you get nervous. Don’t forget to prepare and rehearse in advance.
For a more in-depth speech, see our step-by-step guide below.
What to Say in a Best Man Speech (Do’s and Don’ts)
A best man’s speech traditionally takes place at the wedding reception after the maid of honor gives her speech. The best man’s speech should be positive, respectful, and congratulatory. It can last 3 to 5 minutes and should focus on a central theme or story about the groom.
Remember, a best man speech is not the time to “wing it.” If you do that, there may come the point when everything suddenly goes silent, and a crowd of 50-100+ people is staring at you, waiting for what you’re going to say about the groom. You probably don’t want to end up with a cringing audience while telling a story about the groom’s previous relationships:
Instead, remember these key best man speech tips for a successful toast:
|Pre-plan your speech with a layout and index cards||Don’t wing it or try to go on the fly|
|Keep your speech 3-5 minutes long||Don’t give an excessively short or long speech|
|Open with a catchy one-liner or joke||Don’t start with a dull or droning tone|
|Tell a short story about the groom||Don’t make it about you|
|Use fun, family-friendly humor||Avoid risky or inappropriate topics and jokes|
|Use deep breathing to calm your nerves before the speech||Don’t drink too much|
|Congratulate the groom||Don’t ignore the bride|
|Compliment the bride||Insult or tease the bride (I know it may be tempting, but it NEVER goes over well)|
|Read the room and get to know the guests||Don’t use profanity (unless it’s acceptable in the family)|
Here are a few examples of what you should say in a best man speech:
Tell a story: The storytelling part of the speech is what will take up the most time and open the door for sentimental things. Start from the beginning, and don’t get stuck on too many details. Need story ideas? Ask yourself:
- How did you meet the groom?
- What is one of your favorite memories with him?
- How did the groom meet the bride? Were you there?
Compliments: Toss in several compliments about the groom to make him feel good about your relationship with him.
- What is special about the groom?
- What do you like most about him?
- What are his positive traits?
- Playful banter: You don’t want to be too corny and cheesy with your bro. Depending on your relationship with the groom and the culture of the wedding, you may want to throw in a little banter with your dude. For example, you might make a funny joke about how much the groom loves going out to eat:
You should also avoid some key topics in a best man speech.
Do not mention:
- The groom’s past relationships
- Sexual jokes
- Drugs, alcohol, or past mistakes
- Insecurities of the groom
- Financial or personal information
- Insults to the bride or the wedding guests
- Overly embarrassing stories
- Teasing the bride
- Anything that could potentially harm your friendship
Keep things positive and lighthearted. While a little witty banter or playful teasing can be fun (depending on your relationship with the groom), you should avoid insulting him or highlighting any major insecurities. The “playful” part of the speech is an excellent fun icebreaker, but it shouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings or make them feel publicly embarrassed in front of their wedding guests.
How to Write a Best Man Speech for Best Friend or Brother: Easy Step-by-Step Guide
If you’re ready to prepare something more in-depth than the quick ideas above, this step-by-step guide can help you write a thoughtful speech that the groom may remember forever. After all, being named the best man at your friend or brother’s wedding is a tremendous honor. But like any honor, it comes with some responsibilities. After you finish all your bachelor party and wedding duties, an epic best man speech can be like the fireworks at the show’s end.
Here are 5 simple steps to make it count:
#1 Start with a theme
Before you start writing and rehearsing your speech, it helps to decide on a theme for your talk. This will give a nice flow to the speech. A theme ensures that you stay on track to communicate your congratulations and appreciation to the groom.
What is the main message you want to get across? A few theme ideas include:
- Anecdotes: Best man toasts center around storytelling. This theme is the easiest way to stay on track because you are telling a simple story from beginning to end.
- Humor: Whether you’re naturally funny or working on your jokes, your speech is the perfect opportunity to get the audience laughing. Best man speeches are known for getting a little saucy, but you must be careful about offending the crowd or making crude jokes that might insult the bride and groom. If you want to tease the groom with some witty banter, it helps to make fun of yourself or reference an appropriate inside joke.
- Inspirational: Have you and the groom achieved an important business goal or accomplishment together? Do you have a shared role model or favorite motivational book you both read in college? This speech theme can leave the audience feeling inspired.
- Morality: Use your speech to highlight the great person the groom is. Perhaps you give examples of his integrity, trustworthiness, or generosity. You can emphasize how lucky you are to know the groom and how glad you are that he found a woman to spend his life with.
- Sentimentality: When humor and storytelling aren’t your fortes, it doesn’t hurt to get a little corny. Sentimental speeches require a level of emotional vulnerability, but they can leave a huge impact on the newlyweds and their attendees. Here is an excellent example of a sentimental-themed speech where the groom’s big brother brings him to tears with a story about their father’s last words:
#2 Create an outline
You wouldn’t go on a road trip without a navigation system, so don’t go into your speech without a plan. The best toasts and speeches follow the same structure. Pull out a piece of paper and brainstorm some ideas using this format, then use the following steps to fill in the details:
- Hook/Opening statement: The opening statement should be a 1 to 3-line description about the groom. The first 7 seconds of the speech should hook the audience immediately. It warms them up to you and makes them want to pay attention to the amusing stories. You’ll find an abundance of opening-line ideas in the next section.
- Background context: Now comes the why of your speech. This is where the context of your relationship with the groom comes in. You can throw in some funny jokes and a few details about your experience with him. Use this intro to build up the anticipation for the story to come. Write down a few ideas of stories you can tell.
- Tell the story: Choose 1-3 short stories about the groom that is funny, slightly embarrassing, or interesting. Jot down a few of the sensory elements you want to reference, like the smelly locker room or the squeaking of tire wheels. Most stories follow a bell-curve pattern—they start with an intro, lead to rising action, peak with a capstone moment, then tie back to the beginning. Keep this in mind as you brainstorm and follow the story-planning steps below.
- Take-home message: After you get a good laugh or “awww” out of the audience, you’ll want to bring the story back to the beginning. What do you want them to remember about your speech and friendship with the groom?
- Thank the wedding party: Use a quick sentence to thank the wedding party and hosts. Express your genuine gratitude for being invited.
- Closing toast and congratulations: After wrapping up the story and thanking the wedding party, you should invite the audience to toast the bride and groom with you. For an extra cheery finale, act as if you are speaking on their behalf and include lots of well-wishes for the newlyweds.
Pro Tip: Before filling in your outline details, watch this video for an overview of how to give a memorable toast. Human behavior expert Vanessa Van Edwards explains the most common mistakes (don’t start with “I,” “me,” or “my”) and a few secrets to getting the audience to perk up in their seats.
#3 Nail the opening line
Once you have your outline, it’s time to dig into the details. People decide their first impression of you within 7 seconds, so it’s extra important to nail the opening line of your speech. Best men use this opportunity to crack a joke, compliment the wedding, or set a sentimental tone for the speech.
Avoid making the first lines about you. No “me”, “I”, or “my”. Instead, start with a juicy or mysterious line about the groom, for example:
|Instead of this…||Say this…|
|I was the groom’s roommate in college.||Ben was the self-proclaimed organization king in college. As his roommate, I feared leaving a pen on the desk.|
|I am the groom’s younger brother.||As a kid, the groom was so excited to have a younger brother that he quickly crowned me as his servant for the next 10 years.|
|My favorite thing about the groom is his…||Tonight you’ll learn why the groom was always…|
|My favorite story about the groom was…||The best story I have about the groom starts with a greasy cheeseburger and a speeding ticket.|
If you need a little inspiration, here are some hilarious and quirky best man speech opening lines:
- “Caring, loyal, honest, good-looking, and an all-around-great guy… OK, enough about me, onto the groom…!”
- “This is the perfect chance to tell you about [Groom] and how talented, special, smart, good-looking, and… sorry, man, I can’t read your handwriting here.”
- “I’d like to give a toast to the bride and groom.” [pull a piece of toasted bread from your pocket and give it to them]
- “[Groom’s name] is the kind of person you call when you lock yourself out of the dorm bathroom without any clothes on.”
- “The bride and groom asked me not to share embarrassing stories or crude jokes during my speech… so that’s it from me! Thanks for listening, everyone.”
- “I’d like to start by congratulating the groom for his excellent taste in choosing the best man.”
- “[Groom] had a tough time choosing his best man. First, he called his most handsome friend, but he said no. Then, he called his smartest friend, and he said no. Then, he called his most successful friend, who also said no. Then he called me, and I said, ‘Bro, I can’t say no to you four times.'”
- “What can I say about [Groom]? I guess I’ll start at the very beginning. He was born on [groom’s birthday]. Our parents were hoping for a girl, but I’ve always said… close enough.”
Here is a genuinely funny opening line from a best brother wedding speech:
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to pause for laughter. If it doesn’t come, you can chuckle at yourself and cue the audience that they are supposed to laugh by saying, “This is where you are supposed to laugh,” or joking, “Sound guy, can you please cue the laugh track?” Then, keep going with your speech.
Don’t worry. You need not be a jokester to give a great opening line. If you want to go the nostalgic or tearjerker route, be sure it is highly personalized and thoughtful. Here are some sentimental opening line ideas:
- “There are friends, and there is family, but friends also become family. This is so true for [Groom] and me. We’ve been best friends since we were X years old, and I’ve always considered him my brother.”
- “There’s an old Irish proverb that says a good friend is like a four-leaf clover—hard to find and lucky to have. I think that’s true. Good friends are hard to find, and I’m lucky to have called [Groom] my best friend for the last X years.”
- “I’ve heard that the best relationships come from the foundation of a deep friendship. Experts say that laughter, mutual respect, and enjoying each other’s company are the ingredients for a long-lasting, joyful marriage. After knowing [Groom] and [Bride] for X years, there is no doubt in my mind that they will make a great pair.”
- “In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams said, ‘It doesn’t matter if the guy is perfect or the girl is perfect as long as they are perfect for each other.” Anyone who has seen [Groom] and [Bride] together can agree that this is true for them. I haven’t seen a perfect pair, and I’m happy to be part of this celebration of their love.”
To learn more about the best speech openers, use this guide on How to Start a Speech: The Best (and Worst) Speech Openers. Some top tips include:
- Avoid starting with a lackluster nicety like “thanks for having me.”
- Don’t mention your nervousness.
- Avoid mentioning technical difficulties like the microphone or saying, “Can you hear me?”
#4 Background context
Now that you’ve grabbed the audience’s attention, it’s time to give them a little background on why you are giving a speech in the first place. This is another sneak peek at some details you’ll cover in the speech.
The whole point of this part is to tell them how you know the groom—but it isn’t about you. You’ll often hear wedding speeches that start with a drab, “I met the groom in college” or, “My name is ___, and I’m the best man.” You can do better than that! Try saying:
- “The groom was the first friend I made on the high school football team. I had no idea we would become roommates in a bachelor pad throughout college.”
- “As little kids, the groom and I were known to be a dangerous duo in the neighborhood. He always carried the eggs and toilet paper, then instructed me where to throw them. But you can guess who always took the blame for his antics….”
- “The groom and I have been friends and business partners for X years, and as you’ll hear shortly, he is the main reason I broke my arm during the last office basketball game. But first, I want to tell you a less embarrassing story….”
Pro Tip: Focus on the groom, and don’t make it about you. One of the biggest mistakes people make during wedding speeches is talking too much about themselves. Your speech shouldn’t discuss where you’re from, what you think, or how you ended up at the party. The best man’s speech is a time to focus on the groom and his bride.
#5 Tell the story
After your punchy opening line and background info, it’s time to tell the perfect story about the groom. Depending on the length of your speech and the details of your story, some best man speeches cover 1 to 3 short stories.
Reference back to the memories you wrote when brainstorming. Pick a story that includes the most of these captivating elements:
- A little bit of embarrassment: Whether it’s you, the groom, or a mutual friend, it helps to poke some fun at someone in the story. If you fear being offensive, the best person to joke about is yourself.
- Audience member references: You can get major bonus points if you bring wedding guests into the storytelling moment. You might say, “Mom, you might want to close your ears on this one!” or, “Brian, we’re talking about you!”
- Sensory details: What did the scenery look like? What were the prominent smells, sounds, and tastes at the moment? A great story should make the audience feel like they were with you. Don’t forget to mention the frigid cold lake you jumped into or the outrageously spicy food that left you both panting and crying for water.
- A final punch line: Ideally, the best story ends with a shocking moment or funny line. It should leave the audience laughing, crying, surprised, or even gasping. For example, in an epic adventure story about you and the groom on a hunting trip, you may end with, “Just as the shark was about to bite the line, Joe reeled in the massive bluefin and yelled, ‘I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat!’”
Pro Tip: If you have to ask, “Is this appropriate?” it probably isn’t. Some stories are better for late-night beers than they are for weddings. Avoid telling stories related to sexual topics, drugs, alcohol, illegal activities, or anything you wouldn’t want grandma to hear.
#6 Take-home message
When the story finishes, you’ve hopefully elicited some laughter or maybe some tears. All jokes aside, there is a reason you were the best man, and you are probably a significant person to the groom. This is a great time to emphasize the best qualities of the groom and why you’re so happy for his new love.
Here is an excellent example of tying together the opening and closing lines with a heartfelt message about finding the perfect soul mate:
#7 End your speech with a heartfelt toast
We’ve all heard “let’s raise a glass to [Bride] and [Groom]” before. You can do better than that! The final toast is like the fireworks at the end of your best man speech. Instead of something mediocre, invite the audience to join you in a genuine, thoughtful congratulations. Examples include:
- “Please join me in raising our glasses to the beautiful bride and handsome groom. May your lives together be long, healthy, and happy. We love you so much and are excited for you. Cheers!”
- “Lift your glasses to thank Mr. and Mrs. [Bride’s Parents] for hosting this beautiful wedding. Let us all toast to the perfect union of the bride and groom. We wish you a bright and beautiful future. Cheers!”
- “Here’s to the past, for all you’ve learned. Here’s to the present for this beautiful moment we all share. Here’s to the future for all you’ve got to look forward to. Cheers to the happy couple!”
Pro Tip: Make your toast inclusive and communal, so the audience feels like they’re cheering for the couple with you. Use words like “we”, “lets”, and “us”. This congratulation invites them to join as if you are speaking on their behalf.
#8 Use a best man speech template
A template makes things simple if you’re still feeling uneasy about writing your best man speech. You can take the structure of an example speech and incorporate your ideas and stories to make it your own.
Best man speech example for a best friend:
“Tonight, you’ll learn why the groom was destined to marry [Bride]. The year was 2002, and we were all in a bar with friends on New Year’s Eve in New York City. Snow was falling outside, and we were sipping champagne, waiting for the big ball to drop. Seemingly out of nowhere, a woman with a red dress entered the room, and everything seemed to stop. All the bachelors in our group were captivated, but only [Groom] had the guts to walk up to her. Rumor has it that his first opening line was ‘
Everyone talks about a woman’s glow when she’s falling in love, but I swear that [Groom] was smiling from ear to ear from the second they met. We could hardly get him to stop talking about her by the following week. We’d be watching football and drinking beers only to have [Bride’s] name brought up every 5 minutes.
Fast forward 3 years, and we’ve all seen how much [Bride] has positively impacted his life. When he came to me to tell me he was proposing, my only response was, ‘Finally, dude!’
There’s something extra special about these two. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. They love and respect each other so much. [Bride] was the one for [Groom] from the second they locked eyes in that hazy NYC bar. We are all so happy to be here for your big day. Let’s raise our glasses to the beautiful bride and groom! Cheers!”
Another Best man speech example for a best friend:
“The groom was the first friend I made on the high school basketball team. He wasn’t very good [pause for laughter]. I was the tallest player and obviously had the best free throw, but I was majorly lacking in the ladies department. Thankfully, [Groom] took me under his wing and showed me how to be a true gentleman. That includes opening doors for women and carrying their bags instead of just running in with my own. What would I have done without you, man?
Even though he was no good at basketball, [Groom] always had his head on his shoulders. He’s a respectful, intelligent, and relatively clean-cut guy. All joking aside, it’s no surprise that he ended up with a woman as intelligent and beautiful as [Bride]. You both deserve a lifetime of love, happiness, and success together. Please raise your glasses and join me in congratulating the bride and groom! We love you!”
#9 Practice your body language
Public speaking isn’t only about what you say but how you carry yourself. Your body language can drastically affect your confidence, your delivery, and how the audience perceives you. Use these body language hacks to take your speech to the next level:
- Signal “friend”: Smile and show your open palms to send the message that you are the audience’s friend. This makes people feel more comfortable with your presence and more likely to listen.
- Stand up straight: When you look confident, you also feel more confident. Check your posture if your voice is a little shaky before the speech. Roll back your shoulders and tuck your shoulder blades down towards your back. Slightly lift your chest and chin as you speak.
- Make eye contact: Throughout the speech, you should change your eye contact with different audience members. As you mention specific compliments or thanks, make eye contact with the bride, groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and the bride’s father.
- Genuinely smile: Smiling may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget when you feel so focused on a perfect delivery. At the same time, you don’t want to look like you’re fake smiling throughout the speech. Use these 9 Simple Tips to Smile Better (in any situation!)
- Use your hands: It’s easy to let your nerves get the best of you and feel like a “deer in the headlights.” Instead of tucking your hands in your pockets, widen your stance and take up space. Use your hands and gestures while you talk to show that you are comfortable and happy during the speech.
Want more tips? Here are 17 Body Language Presentation Cues to Use in Your Next Speech.
#10 Rehearse before the big day
Experts say you should rehearse a speech 10 times before performing it. Research also shows that people who mentally prepare themselves before a speech by imagining it going well are more likely to perform fluently and easily. So before you get in front of an audience, be sure you’ve gone over your speech at least 10 times, either in your head or out loud. Better yet, practice in the mirror, on camera, or in front of a trusted friend.
It also helps to review the gist of the speech with the groom (without giving away any secret details) to make sure it’s alright with him. A few weeks before the wedding, you may pull him aside and ask, “Hey man, is it OK if I tell the story about ____ in my best man speech? I think it’ll get some good laughs.”
Although this example is long, this best man very clearly rehearsed his speech for a near-perfect performance without any notes:
Key Takeaways: Express Gratitude and Sentimentality in 3-5 Minutes
Ultimately, a best man speech is an opportunity to make your best bro look good in front of all his friends and family. Your speech should demonstrate how much you value your brotherhood or friendship. At the same time, you can enjoy 5 minutes of wedding fame without making things all about you. A great toast can make you a memorable celebrity at the wedding and have people laughing at your
Before jumping up at the reception and speaking off the cuff, remember to:
- Outline and plan your speech ahead of time. Use notecards if needed.
- Focus on the groom and his bride. Don’t go on and on about yourself.
- Nail the opening line with a funny joke, quote, or teaser that leads into a great story.
- Avoid inappropriate or cringey topics that could embarrass the groom.
- Express gratitude to the groom and wedding hosts.
Giving a toast or speech is an essential social skill that can make you one of the most likable people in a room. If you want to learn more about the art of giving showstopping toasts, read this guide on How to Give an Awesome Toast: Advanced Strategies for Speeches.