How to be the best Best Man ever

Ultimate advice for being the best Best Man the groom could ask for

Best man

How to be the best Best Man ever

If there’s one aspect of the best man’s role that causes people to consider turning the job down, it’s giving a speech. And, unfortunately for you, the things guests often remember about a wedding, after the event, are what the bride wore and how good the speeches were! But don’t worry, help is at hand…

If the last time you stood up in front of a crowd to speak was when you were at school, don’t panic. There are plenty of tips and tricks used by experienced public speakers that you can also employ to ensure you give your speech like a consummate professional, even if you’re nervous as hell!

The order of service

Traditionally the father of the bride speaks first, thanking the guests for coming, talking about his daughter and proposing a toast to the happy couple. Next up is the groom, possibly joined by the bride. Between them they will thank the father of the bride, give out thank you gifts and finish by toasting the bridesmaids. Then you’re up. 

The best man’s main responsibilities…

  • Acting as toastmaster, if there isn’t one, and introducing all the other speakers
  • Helping to deliver any thank you gifts given out by the bride and groom
  • Thanking the groom for his toast, on behalf of the bridesmaids
  • Offering thanks from any other attendants who have been toasted
  • Reading out messages from absent friends and relatives
  • Giving a humorous speech about the groom, with plenty of anecdotes suitable for all ages!
  • Finishing with a toast to the happy couple

For a more extensive list of potential duties, check out what Debrett’s, the etiquette experts say.

Getting started 

As soon as you’re asked to be best man you should start mulling the speech over in your mind and jotting down any immediate ideas. No later than three months before the wedding you need too start thinking about it in earnest and get some proper notes down on paper. Aim to finish the rough outline about a month before the wedding, so you have plenty of time to rehearse and do a little fine tuning. 

Take notes

Start by writing down any stories about the groom that come to mind, as well as a few bullet points about his personal traits, hobbies or achievements. Remember you don’t have to tell the whole story if it contains some bits that aren’t clean enough for children or grandmas!

Choose the right stories

The right sort of material could include tales about what he was like as a child, family holidays, pets, his first job, strange childhood habits or funny hobbies. If you’ve known the groom since you were young then hopefully there are school, university or college stories worth recounting. If you haven’t known him that long think about what you’ve done together, such as afternoon sessions in the pub, funny football incidents or workplace disasters. Audience-appropriate stories from the stag night might work too. Just remember you only really need two decent ones.

Do some research

If you’re short on stories speak to friends or siblings who could suggest topics or give you ideas. His parents might also be happy to share a good childhood tale or two, or pass on some of his old school reports for inspiration. 

Structure your speech

Start with a cracking opening line to get the audience onside and you’re on to a winner. Follow this with thank yous, message from absent friends, your funny stories and finally the toast. Click here for more on how to structure the perfect speech.

Just don’t mention the…

A few don’ts to remember. Don’t swear and don’t make any comments about the couple’s suitability for each other, whatever your feelings on the matter. Definitely don’t mention it if either party is divorced or has bad habits, such as drinking, gambling or the like.

Steer clear of dirty adult jokes, even if there aren’t any kids present, and finally, don’t make fun of the bride, the couple’s parents, the bridesmaids or any aspect of the big day itself. Consider yourself warned!

Dealing with nerves

The best way to deal with nerves is to be completely prepared. Write your speech and then recite it over and over. Also, read it to your partner or a friend and ask for honest feedback. For more on how to deal with big day speech nerves, read our handy article.

Be prepared

Have a few lines ready for any drunken friends who think it’ll be a laugh to heckle you. Something along the lines of, ‘I’ll let you off. I remember the first time I tried beer’. If they continue, try not to get into a debate with them, otherwise you’ll loose your train of thought. Simply laugh it off and move on. 

Expert advice

Your speech will be more personal if you write it yourself but if you’re really struggling, you can call in the experts. A professional speechwriter can compose the whole thing from scratch if you give him a few details or they can tidy up a speech you’ve composed yourself. There are also companies who will write a funny poem about the groom, which you can incorporate into your own speech. 

On the day

At the beginning of the wedding reception it’s a good idea to get someone to briefly show you how to use the microphone, so you know what you’re doing. Have two copies of the speech, one in your jacket pocket and a spare one in your overnight bag. Then have a quick read through somewhere quiet 10 minutes before the speeches start, so it’s fresh in your mind. At the same time take a minute to smarten up your hair, straighten your tie and check your teeth for spinach! 

The big moment

Take a few deep breaths before you stand up and try to focus on breathing properly throughout your speech. When you do stand up, do it confidently and find a position you’re happy in. Then, just before you start, gently remind yourself that all the people watching want you to do well and that the perfect best man’s speech is one that’s relaxed and heartfelt. No one is expecting a routine worthy of Jimmy Carr, so just be yourself, tell a couple of stories, wish the couple well and you can’t go wrong. Good luck!

Further reading: You won’t believe the props that this best man used in his speech