I’m Marc Blakewill, a professional speech writer who’s written hundreds of wedding speeches, receiving consistent 5-star feedback. So why not follow my Best Man speech tips and take your speech to the next level?

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Professional speech writer, Marc, in a cafe writing jokes on a notepad

Let's make it all right on the night with these Best Man speech tips

  • Icebreakers
  • Structure
  • Content
  • Style & Technique
  • Toasts & Welcomes
  • Length
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1. Icebreakers

There are lots of well-worn opening lines out there. It’s not the end of the world if you use one. They work and are family friendly. The flipside is that many guests will know it’s not your line and might wonder what else in the speech is borrowed. If you can, try to use an original one. Here are some examples that might inspire you:

My advice for the opening few lines is: if in doubt, leave it out. It’s better to play it a bit safer rather than using a risky line that might bomb. If you’d like to see more, check out my Best Man’s gags package here.

2. Structure

How to structure your Best Man speech

Structure is scaffolding. It’s there to support the material not to be admired. The more lines needed to make your Best Man speech structure work, the fewer words can be used for jokes and stories.

So, keep your outline simple. You want laughs not quiet critical appreciation.

Here’s a classic Best Man speech structure:

  • Icebreakers
  • Establish how you know the groom
  • Main content of speech
  • Heartfelt lines about his friendship
  • Complimentary words about the Bride
  • Toast to the Bride and Groom

Structuring the main content

You don’t want the main section of your speech to be a random braindump of stories. Again, simple is best. The easiest is roughly chronological. The key word is “roughly”. It doesn’t have to be in strict time order. However, if you have material about the groom from when he was a kid, it might look odd including it near the end. Essentially, you want to avoid flitting from one part of the groom’s life to another then back again.

So, how should you group things?

One approach I use is to write up each story before thinking about structure. Once it’s written, you will spot themes appearing. For example, it might be his obsessiveness or his inability to turn up on time. Once linked together, you’ve got yourself a whole section. A handful of sections and you’ve got the main part of your speech sorted.

Work themes

A work theme could link various parts of your speech together. For example, if the groom is in the army, you could describe his socialising as a series of hard-bitten military campaigns. Or the speech could be an award for bravery with the twist that it’s the bride who’s receiving it.

If the groom works in HR or recruitment the speech could be done as a CV. You start a section with, say, “Strategic thinking” then tell the tale of how he got plastered, fell asleep on the train and woke up at 2am a hundred miles from home. With a police officer, the stories could be presented as a charge sheet. For an airline pilot you do a few in-flight announcements throughout the speech.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you may experience some turbulence as we now come to the drinking stories…”

Remember: if you do choose a theme, don’t let it take over. It’s a servant not a master.

Other themes

You might want to use a theme for just one section. Maybe it’s how the bride and groom met. Or a mildly embarrassing story the groom was involved in. Using mock-heroic or romantic language can work well here, such as a fairly tale.

This stylised language adds a big change of tone to the speech. Other examples include over-dramatic movie trailer language or adapted lines from Shakespeare. Done well, the laughter is doubled – you’ll get laughs about the groom and from the parody itself.

“What mortal woman could resist a knight who had done battle with not one but 5 flaming sambucas and lived to slur the tale?”

3. Content

Here are some simple Dos and Don’ts…

  • Keep the subject matter varied
  • Paint the groom in a positive light towards the end
  • Keep the stories snappy
  • Treat the jokes as a punch on the arm not a punch in the ribs
  • Avoid certificate 18 language
  • Mentioning ex-girlfriends is off-limits
  • Don’t be too graphic - if necessary, use innuendo.
  • Don’t overdo it with the drinking stories.

Generating Ideas

Now, you might be thinking – that’s all really useful, but I need ideas for the content. Which brings us to a writing paradox. When you can write about anything, it gets more difficult. But if you break it down into sections, those ideas will soon come out of hiding. So, let’s look at a few.

The early years

If you’ve known the groom since you were fairly young, it’d be good to include a story or memory from that time e.g. his ridiculous hair, his ridiculous opinions, his ridiculous ambitions.

Trips away

A holiday opens a portal to all sorts of info about the groom: is he a nervous flyer? Did he pack 20 pairs of boxer shorts for a weekend break? Did he plan the trip like it was an Apollo space mission or keep forgetting where the hotel was?

Work

OK. He’s probably not a spy or a lion tamer but you can still write interesting lines about his job. Perhaps he is a Team Leader with a team of one. Or maybe his job title is so long it takes 3 breaths to say it. Don’t be afraid to mock the mundane.

He's my brother

And I’m sure you’ve got lots to say. There’s the play-fights, the hand-me-downs, sharing a room, looking up to him, telling outrageous lies to him, who’s better at sport, who’s had more accidents, family holidays… start digging and you’ll have more material than you’ll know what to do with. For more inspiration, there’s a “Writing a speech for a brother” post here.

Stag do

This is NOT a must have. If nothing of interest happened that is repeatable, it can be left out. If you do want to cover it, hinting is better than being shocking. Show a bit of leg but no more…

“I don’t have any good stories!”

This is something I hear very often. But most people do have good potential material, they just haven’t asked themselves the right questions. So, instead of asking: “What’s funny about the groom?” you ask yourself things such as: “What’s he like first thing in the morning?” Suddenly you’ve got: is he a late-riser? Is he already working at 6am? Is he hungover crying for his mother?

Seeking inspiration? Check out my Best Man speech hack blog post. It has a list that will unlock those ideas.

4. Style & Technique

Right. You’ve started putting things together. Now, it’s time to focus on the words themselves. If you need some inspiration, here's Hemingway: "The only kind of writing is rewriting." So, let’s open up the writer’s toolbox and hone those lines.

Give a clear context for each section. If the story relates to school, college or work, ensure that everyone knows this with a simple line.

“As many of you know, I had the misfortune to go to school with GROOM…”

Avoid big jumps when you move from one subject to another. Here are some ways:

  • Pass the baton on by mentioning the previous subject:
“If his timekeeping’s atrocious, his appetite’s certainly ferocious…”
  • Signal there’s a change of subject:
“But enough about his bad qualities, it’s time to look at his irredeemable flaws…”
  • Infer the audience’s reaction to what they’ve just heard:
“That won’t have surprised you, but my next story definitely will.”

Things are more interesting and funnier when delivered as a trio. Here are some well-known ones:

So, how might this work in a Best Man’s speech?

“Groom only has 2 real flaws: his inability to park, his inability to hold his drink and his inability to count.”

When writing up any anecdotes, keep them snappy. Look at each line and ask yourself: “Does it move the story along? Is it funny?” If it’s neither, lose it. It’s padding.

A callback is a great writer’s trick. You refer to something mentioned earlier in the speech and get two things:

  • Laughter of recognition
  • Appreciation that your speech has been crafted.

How to do it?

Once you’ve written your speech, look to the beginning or middle sections and pick out a memorable character trait or story. Simply give a passing reference to it or them near the end. Job done. For example, if you’ve already mentioned he likes a drink and is a sci-fi geek:

"BRIDE wanted to meet a man in million. Unfortunately she has. Who else counts gin as part of his five a day or thinks yoga is a character from Star Wars?"

This is one of the final stages. Read the speech out loud and you’ll spot instances where the same main word appears in consecutive sentences. Just change one of them. Do it throughout and it will add real polish to the speech.

5. Toasts & welcomes

Some Best Men feel the need to start their speech welcoming people, thanking the venue, the organisers, the bridesmaids, etc.

Unless you’re the first speaker, this will already have been covered by the Father of the Bride or the Groom. You have one piece of admin: a toast to the newly weds. It’s as simple as that.

Icons of two glasses of white wine being chinked together
  • The Father of the Bride speech usually ends with a toast to the newly weds
  • The groom’s speech traditionally ends with a toast to the bridesmaids
  • The Best Man speech usually ends with a toast to the newly weds

6. Length

Don't overstay your welcome. 8-10 minutes is ideal. Anything over 15 minutes and you will be straying into the realms of a conference speaker. You want them looking at you, not their watch.

For more Best Man speech tips, check out my blog posts below.

If you feel you'd like some help , here are my Best Man speech services.

Full wedding speech

£299
  • A unique speech written from scratch. You complete my questionnaire and I write you a memorable, engaging speech. Unlimited edits.

Speech editing

£149
  • I take your speech to the next level with new material & great bespoke jokes. I edit and polish your speech until you're perfectly happy.

Best Man gags

£25
  • A PDF of 150 original jokes penned by Marc, which you can thread through your speech from opening ice-breaker to the final toast.

Want to chat with Marc about your speech? Just click below...

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