How to Give the Worst Best Man Speech Ever (And, Ahem, How Not To)

Bring the bride to tears, your best friend to hiccups, and knock every other person’s freaking socks off when you follow these six simple steps for delivering the greatest best man speech, ever:

Step one: Don’t plan ahead so you’re good and nervous. That way, the second your buddy says I do, you can start to pregame like your college’s biggest rival is about to step onto the field. (Translation: Drink your face off.)

Step two: If you’re not staggering as you grab the mic from the DJ, you didn’t do step one right, so grab a shot to gulp on your way up. Once at the front of the room, take a deep breath and remember: this isn’t a tribute. This is a battle. A battle to determine who is the most badass, hilarious, self-absorbed best man ever.

Step three: Make sure you tell the story of that time in Amsterdam, circling the clock tower (or was the clock tower circling you?) on magic mushrooms. Bonus points for describing the various women you cat-called and anything that took place in a bathroom.

Step four: Mention an ex-girlfriend of his. Like the one who wore a cheerleading outfit everywhere, even though she wasn’t a cheerleader (or making an ironic statement - it’s just what she “felt most comfortable” in).

Step five: To make sure your speech is awkwardly long, ramble. Say “I love you man!” more than once. If you lose your train of thought, don’t worry. Fill in the space by yelling, “The bridesmaids mostly look great!”

Step six: Mic drop. It never fails to be a classic way to propose a toast. Now sit back and enjoy the accolades.

You’ve caught on that we’re kidding by now, right? We’re sure you’ve seen this speech before, but that doesn’t mean you should emulate it for your friend’s wedding celebration. This sort of speech is not only avoidable but should indeed be avoided (at all costs even).

All that ribbing, roasting, and debauchery you may really want to mention? Don’t. Really. Even if it sounds funny in your head, and it’s really “you,” remember that this is a formal occasion where dearest friends and family have gathered to celebrate the love between two people, not reminisce about that time the groom dry-heaved himself to tears in the back of that gypsy cab. Instead, giving a speech that is planned, practiced, and well-executed will present you - and hence your friend-groom - as decent, respectable humans to this large group of people who are eager to raise their champagne flutes. Which is way more important on this particular day, trust us.

So how do you actually give the best best man speech? Well, we’ve got a simple six-step guide for how to put together, from start to finish, an awesome best man speech that will have people shaking your hand, clapping your shoulder, and (most importantly) not grimacing while you speak.

1. Give yourself a few weeks - if not a month or two - to write your speech.

Great speeches rarely write themselves on the spot, unless you’re a Toastmasters regular. You’ll want plenty of time to write a first draft, then a second draft, then a third draft (yes, this is normal for good writing).

Do not necessarily use the first thing that comes out of your pen - instead, write something without judgment, let it sit for a day or two, then return to it and work on it again. You’ll have new thoughts and ideas. Repeat this process.

2. Present your friend in a positive light (and don’t embarrass his bride!).  Remember how protective of your now-married pal you felt when he started dating that lovely lady in white? Channel that feeling - the one that made you worry he’d get his heart broken (he didn’t! Winning!), the part of you that deeply cares about your buddy’s health, well-being, and happiness.

When you write from the more emotional side of your friendship, the speech will be heartfelt, sincere, and much more “you.” 

Pro tip: Topics you might want to touch on include reasons your friend will make a good husband (back it up with examples!), why the bride is lucky to be marrying him, and what love means to the couple.

And remember, just because you’re not roasting the guy doesn’t mean this can’t have a bit of humor. Add in a few funny (but mostly innocent) anecdotes here and there to keep the mood light and the audience smiling.

3. As you edit, consider length - and keep it around five minutes.Five minutes, plus or minus two, is the average length of a good best man speech. Going under three minutes can feel a bit abrupt to guests, and going over seven is frankly, well, boring.

Note, however, that if you are extremely nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, or there is some other reason you’re set on keeping things brief, too short is better than too long. Stay within your capabilities to make sure you’re as cool, calm, and collected as possible.

In order to make sure you stay within an acceptable time limit, keep word count in mind. Most people read at around 150 words per minute - which means you want to write a 450-1050 word speech.

4. Ever heard the joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”The answer is practice, practice, practice. And that’s just what you should do. Here’s how:

  •  About a week before the wedding day, print your speech out, stand up, and read it out loud to yourself. Keep a pen handy - you’ll assuredly find places where you want to change the wording up a bit.
  • Make the changes on your computer, print the speech out again, and read it out loud           the next day - this time to a trusted friend or partner. Make sure you have a pen handy again, and ask for their feedback.  
  • With five days before the wedding, you should have finalized text ready to rock and roll. Print your speech out in the font size and on the paper you plan to use during the wedding. Run through your speech at least once a day.

5. While practicing, pay attention to your body language. There’s a little more to a good speech than just good words. Decent public speakers slow their usual speaking cadence so they can be understood, look up from their page to pan the audience, and don’t fidget.

Keep these thoughts in mind as you practice (and of course, ask a friend for feedback on this, too!).  

6. Do not have more than one drink before you give your speech. Giving a best man speech is like a mullet. It’s business in the front - before the speech - and party in the back - after it’s done. Drink your face off after your speech. If you’re nervous, try taking a few deep breaths, having a sip of water, and stepping into the bathroom for a moment alone. 

But wait, there’s more… see below for a bonus seventh step!

7. Ok, the big question: is it ok to read from a paper or card (or cell phone) when giving a speech? The answer: heck yes.It is so much more important that you feel confident, prepared, and that you get it right (by reading off your prepped and practiced piece of paper) than it is for you to be all President-of-the-United-States memorized. (And, actually, even the commander-in-chief is reading from a dang teleprompter, he’s gotta stay on message too!)

Remember, if you practice beforehand, you won’t be stumbling over the words you’ve prepared, and having them in front of you will simply ensure smooth sailing.Now, go forth, speak of appropriately bromantic things, and give one heck of a best man speech!

Stuck on where to start? Consider this outline: 

I. Introduce yourself, state how you know the groom, and say something nice about the bride.

II. Try to open the audience’s eyes to the groom YOU know - talk about your friendship and what he was like before meeting his bride.

III. Discuss what the groom was like after meeting his bride. How did he change? What was he like in love?  

IV. Wrap up with either advice, or a short discussion of what love can do for people.

V. Toast! Vow Muse is Angie Sommer and Alicia Ostarello, two women who have been helping grooms (and other members of the wedding party!) with wedding writing since 2010.