Best man speeches are an old, time-honored tradition that grace weddings as far back as many of us can remember. Many great men have given this short, funny, and noble speech to brothers, best friends, sons, war buddies, teammates, and so on. The thought stirs your inner man but does little to calm your nerves when a groom asks you to give one. Have no fear, you have what it takes. You’re the best man at this wedding for crying out loud. Giving a Best Man Speech is terrifying to most… Life, Tailored though, knows what you need:
Why You Can Get Excited
Receiving the honor of “Best Man” from a fellow male is no small praise. Your brother (blood-related or otherwise) is saying you are the best man he knows. You’ve been with him in the trenches, on top of mountains and in deep valleys, you’ve seen him laugh, heard him cry and even now in fray of matrimony, you remain faithful. Through everything the groom deems you to be the best there is. Receive the title proudly and wear it well, you deserve it.
In all of this you need to do right by your groom. He’s called on you to be the Best Man at his wedding, so rise to the occasion. By definition the Best Man at the celebration has to be the greatest Man there so step up to the plate. Be there with him in tuxedo fittings (we like this Slim-Fit Khaki Cotton-Blend from Mr. Porter, as well as the ever-classic Three Piece Midnight Black Wool-Blend). Ensure things run smoothly with the other groomsmen, be at the rehearsal dinners, plan a bachelor party, inspire the groom to greatness on his big day, run through his wedding vows with him, remind the man why he’s going through with all this marriage craziness anyway and when something goes awry pick up the slack and ready yourself for the main event: your speech.
The speech a Best Man gives is one of the greatest acts of brotherly love a man can offer. It can move men and women to tears, inspire laughter, offer enduring advice and move your brotherhood to a new level. The speech is a chance to show the wedding why the man and woman you are with are worth celebrating and what their union means to you.
How to Create Your Speech
You’ve accepted your charge and have your orders, how do you carry them out? The best strategy for a Best Man Speech is brevity. You should speak for no more than five to seven minutes, five’ish minutes is long enough to get some laughs, a couple blushes from the bride, an approving smile from the groom and finish on top.
The ingredients to an exceptional Best Man Speech are simple: they include tact, some broad stories, a dash of humor, and practice.
You’ll want to start with some thank you’s: First thank the groom for bestowing you with Best Man. Like I said before, it was no small gesture. Thank the parents of the bride and groom for hosting such a lovely event and if someone beside the parents helped pay for the celebration thank them as well. Lastly thank everyone in attendance for coming and listening to your speech, you’ll only be up for a few minutes.
Follow with a story about the bride and groom. Maybe you were there when they met, saw them in a funny situation, went on a double date, etc. The key is to give a cutesy story that will make the couple smile and the audience “Awww!” You want your anecdote to speak to the qualities of the bride and groom everyone can identify with so the audience feels engaged and connects with you. Keep it broad and free of inside jokes. It’s no fun for people “outside the inside” if you stand there reciting jokes only you and the groom understand, few people in the room will know what’s going on and less will think it’s funny. Save “insiders” for hanging out in small groups with the wedding party.
In no way should you embarrass the couple, it will never work to your advantage. The Best Man Speech is not a time to rib the groom for that time he went in for a kiss and got a face full of palm instead. Make the couple look good; laugh with them, not at them.
Next talk briefly about why the two will do well together and what parts of each other they complement. Everyone in the room knows the couple fits well together so don’t harp on this too long. As Best Man you know your buddy inside and out, show everyone how he has changed because of his wife and how he is a better man to you because of it.
Finally, lead a toast to the bride and groom. This may be the most important part of your whole speech, leading a toast is a milestone in any man’s life and should be fully enjoyed. Say some words to the health of the marriage, the union of the couple, and their many years to come. End with a quotation from someone smarter and wittier than yourself to wrap up and conclude the speech nicely. You can explore for a quotation of your own or use some of these endorsed by Life, Tailored:
- “Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
- “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me” – Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain
- “And she’s got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need.” – P.G. Wodehouse, Mostly Sally
On Giving the Speech
You know one half of the couple intimately and the other one at least pretty well, show the room that. Be lighthearted, sincere, brief and relaxed; easy as pie. As for giving the speech, prepare, prepare, prepare! Write your speech out and go over it more than once with groomsmen, your dad, grandfather, whoever. Practicing what you have to say will ensure you speak confidently and effortlessly. You will talk to the audience rather than recite at them.
Stay sober. This should be obvious. Have your wits about you when you give your speech. Best Men don’t need a crutch to knock their speech out of the park. Save your imbibing for after the toast. Trust us, you’ll do better.
Remember to speak deliberately. Avoid “um’s” or “uh’s,” speaking at a steady pace will make sure everyone hears what you have to say clearly and you don’t look like a stammering mess. Proper pacing will come with practice.
Keep your body language relaxed. Remember, you are at a wedding! It’s a happy time. You’re with friends, everyone is dressed to the nines (If you need some wedding outfit inspiration check out the Bonobos Foundation Suits for a sure-fire way to catch the attention of your “Plus one.”), there is music, laughing, dancing, and all things good. Your body language will reflect that if you let it. Keep your posture open, angle toward the audience, use expressive hand gestures, move around a little bit. Whether you stand by a chair or in the middle of the dance floor will determine how much movement is appropriate. Your facial expressions should remain warm and sincere; stay loose, stay motivated, and keep your eye on the prize. You’re the ultimate Wingman; get this guy to his honeymoon.
Cardinal Sins for a Best Man Speech:
Never do these things during a best man speech.
- Talk about ex-girlfriend or boyfriend stories. Duh.
- Don’t read, talk. It’s okay to bring some notes up with you on a small index card or something similar but don’t read straight off the card. Everyone remembers the students in school who gave PowerPoint Presentations by turning their back to the class and reading straight from the board…Snoozeville. Engage the audience.
- Don’t make it about you. You are there to speak to the qualities you love in the groom and his wife, not to make yourself look good.
Get out there, enjoy the wedding and knock ’em dead. You’ve earned it.