Ten Minutes You'll Remember Forever

The Best Man Speech is one of the highlights of any wedding, but getting it right is essential, because whilst it’s just 10 minutes or so on the day, the memories of this speech will last a lifetime. Most Best Men are weighed down by the expectation to be funny, and have no idea where to start, what it should really contain, how to end it, or how to talk about the bride and groom in a meaningful and non-clichéd way. This page is the definitive guide on how to write your best man speech, from the structure, to the jokes, how to handle two men, props, format and quotes…it’s here. All you need is some time, a creative burst and the rest will take care of itself.

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How To Write a Great Best Man Speech

Here is a short video with my thoughts and ideas on writing a great best man speech. I’ve expanded on those ideas below to give as much advice, hints and tips on writing a really great speech. Enjoy!

STRUCTURE

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This is the most puzzling part because unless you’re a seasoned speech writer, why should you have idea about structure? There are a few ways to tackle this, but the best idea is to keep things simple and form a logical progression from one piece to the next, don’t let the timeline jump around, don’t confuse the audience, and don’t cover topics or people multiple times.

Opening lines

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The crucial part to any speech, but don’t overthink it. The most important thing is to settle yourself in with the first sentence and resist the urge to make them laugh in the first few syllables. You don’t want to keep them waiting too long for the funnies, but start by simply introducing yourself, and take it from there.

EXAMPLES:

1. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, for those who of you I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Chris and I am officially Paul’s second best man…second best ladies and gentlemen…nobody likes to be second best do they? Well, Paul, looking at his career, he should know better than most…anyway where were we?

2. Good evening ladies and gentlemen before I begin I’d just like to introduce myself: my name is Chris and it is my very great honour and privilege to be the first of Mark’s two Best Man…we had to split it…46 years is quite a long time to cover all in one go! Over the course of the next few minutes I’ll be taking you through Mark’s sporting heroics, dealing with incredible loss and being caned by people dressed as nuns…which in fact had nothing to do with the stag do

3. Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, over the next few minutes we’ll be talking about the man for whom Scottish Independence now means asking his English wife if he can go to the pub at the weekend. I can’t help but thinking that an English woman telling a Scottish man he can’t go to the pub, would be a new low in this country’s rich cultural history.

4. Over the next few minutes I’ll be taking you on the rollercoaster ride that has been Sean’s life to date, and there are some amazing stories; like the time he was playing A ball with David Cameron in Mexico and his dog ate the Prime Minister’s guinea pig and he had to sell my passport to repair his own nose…actually I’ve known Sean 30 years…I might have muddled a few things up there…

AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO….

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, before I begin I would just like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you I haven’t yet met. My name is Dave, and this Bob, and together it is our very great pleasure and privilege to be Colin’s best men for today’s celebrations.

At this point I thought I would be nervous at doing Leigh’s speech but I am now looking forward to ripping him a new arse hole in front of all his family and friends and better yet he has to sit there quietly.

Talk about being the Best Man

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Don’t waste any time on talking about the time he asked you, or what you’ve been doing in your role as best man, this is only ever filler, and should be avoided at all costs. Remember this speech is only about one person: the groom. If you keep that in mind, it should make things a lot easier. Another common mistake for best men is talk about themselves, mainly by recounting stories where they are the main focus. Don’t fall into that trap.

The Bridge

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Now you’ve got to get from the introduction into the main part of the speech and this is the bridge, and in many ways the trickiest part of the whole speech, particularly if you’re trying to link everything together. Again, simple is good – don’t make the guests think too hard!

EXAMPLES:

1.Over the next few minutes I will be guiding you though what amounts to one great big cry for help: Paul’s life. The inglorious acting career, the ridiculous hair, owning a ridiculous car, the persistent alcoholic over indulgence and drunken profane outbursts – he was quite simply South West London’s answer to David Hasselhof…just not as successful.

2. Neil is a special friend and special friends deserve one thing: three stag dos. The weekends of Istanbul, London and Leeds will live long in the memory of not just those who went, but also those who read about us in the national papers. The mass chants of ‘feed the snake! Feed the snake!’ and the enduring company of our new best friend Bianca the stripper are, I have to say, completely unrelated. I would also like to say that for the record Brian accepts and welcomes people from every country around the globe. Almost.

AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO….

Now a wise man once told me the best man speech should last as long as it takes for the groom to make love…So thank you everyone for coming

Firstly, I would just like to say how beautiful the bridesmaids look who have only been out shone by the bride herself, who looks amazing today.

If everyone could be upstanding, and raise a glass, know as some of you may know Kerry wanted to have the wedding a lot earlier than this, so that a certain something could be involved in the wedding, and unfortunately after a long and hard fight that couldn’t happen. I am of course talking about mikes rapidly thinning hairline, you will be sadly missed.

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HOW YOU KNOW THE GROOM

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This comes directly after the bridge and establishes a connection with the audience – they can immediately understand why you’re there, what you mean to the groom and it’s always an opportunity to have some fun with it, especially if you’re a brother!

EXAMPLES:

1. My first mistake was going to stay in the shared house in London where he lived. My second was to comment on the hair. As a glass bowl of pot pourri went sailing past my head and smashed behind me giving off a wonderful burst of sandalwood fragrance, I was given enough time to realize that this was a troubled, sensitive character who didn’t take criticism that well. Perfect friend material.

2. I first properly met Nick way back in 1994 when we started secondary school together. Little did we know it at the time but it was the start of a beautiful relationship, which, for me, EVENTUALLY proved worth pursuing years later when I was able to borrow all his notes and pass my A Levels. Of course, Nick didn’t need them because he might look quite cool now but he was in fact a complete square at school.  The day when he could read without putting his finger on the word and then count without using his hands, were both real breakthrough moments in his life, only to be capped a few weeks later when he passed his driving test.

3. I first met Brent when we attended the University of Texas and pledged a fraternity together. It was here amongst the upside down beer bongs, ritual humiliation and complete lack of sleep that I knew I had met a friend for life. This may sound overly emotional and slightly premature but when you discover your new buddy is packing his dad’s credit card with no limits, who wouldn’t want him as a friend for life? Just for the record Mr. Schakett, I know at times you may have been concerned about the amount of money Brent spent on alcohol and food on that card. You shouldn’t have: the Shot Man Schakett never wasted any of your money on food.

STORIES

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The trick to writing a really entertaining speech is to make the whole thing a story, rather than dragging the audience through endless stories. Recounting anecdotes is really hard to do because they require a lot of detail and all the time you’re getting to the punchline without making them laugh can prove really counterproductive. Of course, this can all pay off if you have a killer punchline, but all too frequently they aren’t that ‘killer’ and require you to have been there.

Instead take out the good bits from the stories and condense them, even embellish slightly into one neat burst of comedy…

EXAMPLES:

1. Now as he embarked on adult life Nick was to learn the hard way just what it is to be a man, and the number one rule is: if you are going to offer to buy the drinks in happy hour, it’s best not to drop the entire lot down yourself as you get back to the table thus meaning you have to go and buy it all again just after happy hour’s finished. Also you should only ever do a runner from a restaurant via the roof if you HAVEN’T actually paid the bill. Leaving Prezzo’s this way one evening after settling up and leaving a good tip, still doesn’t make any sense to anyone.

2. Anyway when Mark wasn’t failing to hit the top spot in the classroom he was also finding it difficult to do that on the sports field as well. However, with a modest talent and even less interest, he did the only sensible thing to do: saved up all his skill and enthusiasm for one split second of genius. Quite how he managed to catch the impossible cricket ball as it left our sports master’s bat, is still completely unknown. But with, uncharacteristic razor sharp reactions and gazelle like agility, he did just that, and won his side the match. Literally seconds after this Mark retired from all forms of competitive sport – at the very top of his game.

3. There weren’t many highlights to being on minimum wage in the frozen section of nobody’s favourite supermarket, in fact if I remember rightly, there was only one. Nick had been asked to use his initiative to dispose of a 2 litre tub of chocolate ice cream – no big deal you might think. Well, Nick decides to take it into the staff toilets and empty it into the loo. Ladies and gentlemen, a big tub of melting chocolate ice cream can make a big impression when poured into a toilet and can only ever give the next person in there the wrong idea. And it did. From then on half the people thought he had dodgy guts the rest thought he ate on the toilet. Both of which, are in fact, true.

TRIUMPHS AND DISASTERS

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These are ripe areas for comedy material, and whilst you can hint at his accomplishments that should really come later in the speech, when it all gets a bit more meaningful. Of course, the disasters aren’t real disasters just areas of his life and social situations he’s got catastrophically wrong…for comedy effect.

EXAMPLES:

1.It wasn’t all academic and sporting mediocrity though, there have been lots of other things he wasn’t good at too. Forget school discos and trying to speak to girls, Mark had computers eating out of his hand. And it’s easy to see why:  with computers you can eventually work out what’s bothering them, they usually only ever break down for legitimate reasons and if you get fed up with them, you can just switch them off. You see, nothing made his heart beat harder or his mind race faster than a computer with a problem. It is a love affair that has endured to this day.

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THE BRIDE

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The wedding day really is only about one person, and even though the Best Man Speech should mainly be about the groom, the bride does of course have her part in it as well.

The thing to remember here is, that unless you live in Australia, the best man always goes last, and so the groom will already have extensively talked about how they met. You’re really looking to avoid repetition, so allude generally to how they met, and I’d avoid details…and if they met online and aren’t advertising the fact, then you shouldn’t either.

EXAMPLES:

1.Seriously when Mark met you Emily, everyone could see just how happy that made him. He’s always been a great bloke waiting for the right girl and everyone who knows you both will tell you just what a great couple you are together. Mark I couldn’t be happier for you today, we’ve known each other such a long time and I hope that friendship lasts for many more years to come.

2. Ali, I know you make Neil incredibly happy – you must do, he’s stopped dressing like a middle aged freak. But seriously, you both make a great couple and I know that he’ll already have the next few years planned out on spreadsheets but if you can fit me in I’ll look forward to spending a lot happier times together.

3. The fact that Dave also looked like Kevin Keegan’s love child, also didn’t help his dating days. That was until that fateful night, on the last train from London when he met the lovely Katie and smooth talked her after another mate of ours offered her a complimentary chicken nugget, and the rest is history. In a world, which looks down upon fast food, I think we all need to think again.

4. I can see how incredibly happy you have made my old friend over these last eight years and just how much you have helped to change his life for the better. He’s always been a great guy buy now he has wider horizons and a greater sense of adventure. And I know just how much of a support you’ve been to him through the tough times. I think you are a great couple and I look forward to many more happy times together in the future.

THE IMPACT THE BRIDE HAS HAD ON THE GROOM

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This should be a fun look at the way the groom as upped his game, changed his wardrobe and started showing an interest in things outside of pubs, football and waking up late.

EXAMPLES:

1. But when he’s not trying to track the dark forces behind his least favourite football club in the world, he also likes to go on holiday. Now going on holiday for Frank is nothing new but the way he goes about it now is very different from the Frank of old. Thanks to his beautiful new wife Emily, Frank now does something called globe trotting which actually involves going to lots of different far flung countries and immersing yourself in their culture, rather than a two hour flight and immersing yourself at the bar.

2. It’s always tricky that first stage of the relationship as you go about discovering whether it’s going to work or not. However, for Sean and Lucinda it was a lot trickier, as soon after he met her and became smitten, he had the romantic task of making her redundant. Sean was taking the old addage “if you love them set them free” to ridiculous conclusions, which resulted in Lucinda losing her job.

3. Cassie, can I just say that you look absolutely beautiful today, I think we can all agree Brent is one lucky guy. I always had a sneaking feeling that Brent was batting way above his average, now I know he is! I have seen over the years just how happy you both are together and I am so thrilled for Brent that he’s met such an amazing woman to share his life with. Also if you could find it in your big, warm heart to allow The Shot Man and that credit card to come out to play, then you would make some grown up, financially independent men, very happy too.

CLOSING LINES

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This is where you tie all the strands together, and say what a great friend/brother the groom is, how much he’s been there for you through difficult times, laughed with you through the good times, and always had your back….and if he hasn’t…just lie!

EXAMPLES:

1. John, you have been a good friend to me ever since we first met, and not just in the form of free shots and hosting parties. We’ve had great times going to the games, hanging out and making that journey from college to adult life. I know there will be less time for me in your life as I’ve now been replaced by a small dog called Ben, but you’re catholic, and now you’re married – I can’t see that dog getting a look in for months anyway. However, I will always look forward to the time we spend together especially when for old time’s sake the Shot Man is once again unleashed. Thanks for being trustworthy, loyal and understanding friends and I hope to spend many more times together for many more years to come…maybe also with that doctor wife you promised me Julie.

2. With your laidback, calm and sensitive approach to life Frank, you’re somebody that many people count themselves lucky to have in their lives. Not just because of your willingness and ability to help them out as a friend but because you’re fun and light hearted ways mean you’re always a great guy to be around.

3. I am so happy that you’ve found each other to share your lives with and all that remains for me to say is that I hope you have a great day today and enjoy a long and happy life together.

4. Sam, we’ve known each other for such a long time and been through such a lot together that it’s hard to know where to begin. All I can say is that I couldn’t have wished for a better bloke to share those years with and I hope that there’s going to be plenty more of them to come. Thanks for being a great friend, and thanks for letting me copy your homework.

THE TOAST

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There should really be only one toast in a best man speech and that’s at the very end. Tradition states that best men should reply on behalf of the bridesmaids at the beginning of the speech in response to the bridesmaids toast by the groom – but it’s just confusing and not necessary. A simple but effective toast at the end and you’re done.

EXAMPLE:

All that remains for me is to wish you all a long and happy life together, with all the luck in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom.

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Other things to consider

Props

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From a vast amount of experience you should avoid using props at all costs. It might seem like a great idea to have films, photos, a man in a gimp suit taking the heat off you in a pressurised situation, but it only ever serves to make the day a lot trickier and the speech less effective. As soon as you start holding up pictures or invite people to look at pictures you’ve left on the table they will immediately stop looking at you and start zoning out or talking amongst themselves.

If you give anyone the opportunity to divert their gaze you then have to work really hard to get it back again, and props will only ever make your speech longer and more tedious to endure. They also usually rely heavily on cables, Bluetooth connections, wifi etc etc…or at the very least everyone being able to see what you’re holding up…and they never can. Suddenly you’re getting heckles about not being able to see/hear/understand and it makes the speech the longest 10 minutes of your life.

A great idea if you’ve got funny photographs is to pin them up by the seating plan so that everyone will get to see them and then you can reference those in your speech.

Quotes

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Forget the awful quotes that you normally hear such as ‘it’s not somebody you can live with, it’s somebody you can’t live without, there are some great quotes out there if you look hard enough. Just one for each speech as you don’t want it to become some sort of English Literature GCSE essay.

The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it. Hubert Humphrey

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. AA Milne. 

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends. WB Yeats.

Quotes can be a really powerful way to end a speech, and it’s worth going that extra mile to find something that very few have used before, so check out sites such as BrainyQuote and GoodReads for an endless supply of great quotes.

Hecklers

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You are always going to get a heckler or two so it’s worth thinking in advance how to deal with them so they don’t upset your flow, and even better, give you an opportunity to get some extra laughs. The most simple method is just to pause, wait until they’re done and carry on, but if you can get a bit of mileage out of it, so much the better.

A good way of having some fun is simply to ask if they’re looking for assistance in going to the bathroom, this works particularly well if they happen to be on the slightly older side. If it’s a younger person you can assume some vocal surprise that their carers have let them out for the day, or suggest that whatever medication the system has got them on, they need to cut the dose. Anything along this sort of gentle fun vein, always works a treat…as long as they don’t really have a carer and aren’t on medication.

Jokes

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In my experience best man jokes are probably the least effective addition to any best man speech that wants to be classed as superior. By best man jokes, I am alluding to about 100 or so gags that were written over the years specifically to get a laugh from wedding guests. You can do so much better than these, because they’re old, tired an dpeople have heard them all before and the last thing you want to do is land one of these at the start of your speech to a luke warm ripple of polite laughter.

To identify exactly what I’m talking about I’ve listed some of the most prolific offenders.

It’s an emotional wedding, even the cake is in tiers.

It’s not the first time today I’ve got up form a warm seat with a piece of paper in my hand. 

If there’s anybody here this afternoon who’s feeling nervous, apprehensive and queasy at the thought of what lies ahead, it’s probably because you have just got married to the groom.

Complete rubbish. You need to work out what it is that’s funny about the groom in an original and engaging way, people will love your creativity and laugh much more!

Burning deep within his sole was a dream, what he wanted more than anything, more than being a cowboy, professional tennis player or A ball star…was to be an office manager in the NHS. What can I say? He’s not dreaming any more ladies and gentlemen.

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Length

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This is one of the most important factors and it actually depends on quite a few things, so we’ll start off with the very general scenario of 3 speakers at a wedding – Father of the bride, Groom and Best Man. If this is the case and it’s in the UK, then the best man speech should be a stand up to sit down time of no longer than 10 minutes. If this is in America, that will be about 5 minutes maximum. Americans like their speeches shorter and more efficient, and that’s no bad thing.

However, these timings will then change the more speakers that are added to the line up, because what the groom should be doing is making sure the section of speeches doesn’t run into hours of your life you’ll never get back. If there are 4 speakers, aim to be in and out in around 8 minutes, 5 speakers you’re looking at about 6 minutes, and so it goes on.

You have to bear in mind also that as you’ll be the last speaker, apart from Australia where you’re up second, and so the guests are at the limit of their concentration endurance, so if they’ve been sitting through 90 minutes of speeches, and it happens, make it REALLY funny, and REALLY short.

If you are two best men making a joint speech then you should be stood for about 12-13 minutes, and that remains the case the more best men are added to the line up. If you’re a co-best man and you’re making separate speeches, then your speech should be about 7 minutes. The timings in Australia are identical to the UK except that the best man goes after the father of the bride.

Delivery

Being Joint Best Man

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Being a joint best man is pretty common these days, and you really need to tackle on you’re going to go about things as early as possible, because trying to coordinate two guys to write and deliver a speech whilst they juggle their own lives can prove next to impossible.

The first thing you have to decide is if you’re going to make a joint speech or separate ones. The best method is to make a joint speech as it means you won’t double up on gags or content, and nobody has that last dreaded speech spot. A great joint best man speech should consist of about 4 chunks of content each and you bounce from one best man to other all the way through the speech.

However, for many reasons making a joint speech might prove impossible. Maybe there’s no time to coordinate it, maybe you don’t like the guy, or maybe there’s a fundamental clash of ideas. In that case make sure your speech is efficient, tight and punchy and comes in at around 7 minutes, and whatever you do, make sure you get on first.

Best Man for Brother

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Quite a lot of grooms make their brother the best man, and that does throw up a few problems – the main one being that although you’ve grown up in the same family/house etc. you don’t really know that much about him! When I’m writing speeches, this doesn’t really affect the creative process because I’m looking for a very funny comedic overview of who the groom is, not a granular introspection. If you’re facing this very common problem, then just take everything you know about his character, passion, dislikes, job and even hair colour and get the funnies out of that. It can be done but it really needs thinking about.

Of course, there is some fun to be had with the introduction and you need to allude to that fact how upset you were when your number priority spot was completely usurped by a noisy, ugly ginger baby called Dave. If you’re younger than talk about the time you realised the bigger toddler in the house who kept bashing you over the head every time your mum left the room, was in fact your older brother Steve.

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Ex Girlfriends

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As tempting as it may seem to have a quick chronological run through of the groom’s former loves, this will only ever end in disaster. This comes back to my point that the wedding day is really only about the bride – if you do anything to upset her, then it’s pretty terminal. Mentioning former conquests in any way shape or form is something I completely avoid, you might think it’s all light hearted fun but no bride likes to think of their brand new husband being the love interest of someone else!