What an honor, you’ve been chosen as best man for the wedding of one of the greatest guys you know – maybe your best friend or brother. Your friendship has been a rock in rough times and an adventure in good times. You’ve probably had your fair share of conflicts and arguments, which have always been trumped by the laughs and support you’ve given each other.
And now he’s getting married and embarking on the next chapter of his manhood. And you’re there not only to witness this rite of passage, but also to be a central part of its management and execution. And one of the most important duties you will undertake is to give a speech and toast to mark this beautiful occasion.
So, it has to be epic. And we’ve got your back. Here are tried and true tips and tricks to make sure you write and give the most epic best man speech.
#1 Get Inspired
We have found that one of the best ways to get inspiration for almost any task is to read about how great men have done it before you.
So, first, take a look at some marriage and relationship advice and quotes from famous men in history. We have a great post on our sister blog called Marriage Advice and Inspiration From Five Famous Men that can provide you with a lot of inspiration.
Check out some quotes about marriage and see which ones fit into the type of relationship your friend and his fiancée have. And you can even include the quotes you like in the speech itself.
“It is not for a lack of love, but a lack in friendship that makes for unhappy marriages” – Friedrich Nietzsche
This would be a great quote to include if the happy couple started out as good friends. Then you could add to this quote the idea that you’re sure they will have a happy marriage since not only do they really love each other, they have also been such good friends for so long.
The next thing you can do to get some inspiration is check out some best man toasts and speeches on Youtube – they range from the absurd, to the hilarious, to the touching, to the disastrous. You’ll get a good idea of not only things you can do, but also a good idea of what not to do.
#2 Connect With The Bride, Not Just The Groom
How well do you know the bride-to-be? Have you hung out with her? Had conversations with her? Run errands with her?
Don’t make the mistake of focusing on the groom and only mentioning her in passing. God forbid the only bone you throw her is that she looks beautiful in her wedding dress.
If you don’t know her well, and you still have time before the wedding, it might be a good idea to have a little quality time together. You could ask her about her childhood, her family, her career and her relationship. A sweet story is bound to come out of it that you could then weave into your speech that will have that intimate touch.
If there’s no time, then just ask the groom for some sweet stories about the two of them together and about her personally.
We can call this story one that you can use in your speech. Now for story two…
#3 Make A Personal Connection
You’ve known the groom for years, maybe your whole life. You’ve seen him at his best and at his worst. You were his support through those nasty break-ups, and he was yours when you were having relationship troubles. Maybe you stuck with each through the death of loved ones, job losses, health problems or financial downturns.
You may have also been on fishing trips or hiking treks together, played basketball in college in opposing teams, shared those crazy backpacking years or maybe even some wonderful creative projects.
You have a really good story or two in you about how awesome this guy is. Now all you need to do is just link that story with this marriage and the bride. Has he met his match in poker? Has he found the perfect fishing partner? Have his business ventures become more philanthropic because of her?
Whatever you do, do it tactfully. Don’t say anything that either makes him look like he was some wild party animal now being tamed, or that he was a loser now moving on up. These kinds of half-jokes in best man speeches have not only become cliché and boring, they are also a little insulting even if they get people laughing. Keep it classy and positive all around!
#4 Start Strong
The opening line of your speech needs to be strong, confident and compelling. You can begin by introducing yourself. Not everyone there will know who you are and why you have this honor to be the best man.
Tell them your name and your relationship to the bride and groom. Are you his brother? Then mention how lovely it is to be gaining a new sister in the family. Are you his friend from school? Tell them how you were both longhaired, pimple-faced, Nirvana t-shirt wearing class buddies until you separated for college.
If there is any information the guests need to know about the reception, bar, buffet or parking situation, this would be a good time to get it out of the way as well.
You can always start with the classic Thank-Yous and acknowledgement of the bride and groom’s family. Perhaps talking about how these wonderful parents (mentioning them by name) raised two kind, intelligent, honest people whom you are lucky to know.
And now after this opening, you can begin the real entertainment…
#5 The Entertainment
So this is where you’re going to unleash your natural self and get creative.
Are you a funny guy? This is your chance to perform stand-up-slash-toast. The trick is to make it relevant and cool without offending or embarrassing anyone.
There are jokes and there are jokes.
Some teasing is truly friendly and sweet, and actually shows off eccentric and cute sides of the people involved. That’s what you want to go for. The same with situations – they should be the adorable or quirky kind of funny. But please, at all costs, avoid getting into jokes that just make people look like complete fools.
Here is a list of qualities that you want to avoid insinuating either of the spouses as having, even in a joking manner:
- Alcoholism/drug problems
You get the picture.
Not a big comedy fan? Consider doing games or quizzes. This is a great way to keep the guests engaged and entertained. Of course, you will still need to do a heart-felt toast before or after.
Make sure that the quiz revolves around the couple. For example, it could have questions related to each spouse individually and questions related to their relationship.
As for games, here are some suggestions:
The Shoe Game – Have the couple sit back to back so that they can’t see each other. Make sure you place them in front of everyone else. Have them take off their shoes and each one gets one “his” and one “hers” shoe. Then ask them a series of questions about their relationship, and they answer by holding up the shoe of the person who is the subject of the answer.
For example, you can ask them something like “which one of you always wins the duvet tug-of-war at night?” or “who’s the more competitive one when playing board games?”
Watch how, to many of the questions, you’ll get each partner holding up the shoe of the other, making the room erupt in laughter.
The Stand-up, Sit-down Game – Ask a series of crazy, hilarious, ridiculous, weird questions about things that people have done and whoever has actually done them will stand up and those that haven’t will sit down.
Some examples of these questions could be “who here has been frisked by a cop?” or “who here has thrown a crying tantrum with a customer service agent?”
And finally, you can always supplement your speech, games or quizzes with some media such as music, slides, videos or lighting. Just make sure you rehearse and prepare well, testing everything first before the actual day.
And that brings us to the most important part of the speech…
#6 The Delivery
So how do you make sure your speech is epic and gets you a spot in the best man hall of fame?
You need to prepare and rehearse enough to know your stuff inside out. You need to test it in front of the mirror, in front of the camera and in front of friends and family.
Keeping it short is always a good idea so that you don’t leave too much room for error or boredom. If you plan on adding quizzes and games, make sure you have notes and props ready. Do not rely on your instinct or charisma only to get you through. And do not leave it all to the last minute.
And finally, even though it is your best friend’s wedding day and the champagne will be flowing, stay sober for the speech. You can drink and party all you want afterwards.