David has been a writer for more than a decade having ghostwritten hundreds of speeches for executives in business and academia.
A wedding speech is often a requested task for a Best Man, whether they have any experience doing so or not. That doesn't mean you have to fall into clichés or go over the top to make an impression. You want to show you care, show you're there for the newlyweds, and that you add something to their special day. The best part is that the Best Man speech isn't that tough!
A Best Man speech can be broken down into five sections to clearly define transitions throughout the speech, with sections easily modified with the specifics of your newlywed couple, location, type of ceremony, and story. Let's get started!
Section 1: Acknowledgements
The day is not about the Best Man. The day is about the happy couple and those in the room that day to celebrate their love. Take a few seconds to acknowledge that right up front to your Best Man speech. Here's an example,
Hello everyone! I want to start by saying, as so many have already mentioned throughout the day, how beautiful of a couple our two newlyweds are. Seeing how many people are here today to celebrate their love is a testament to how many people they have positively impacted.
Don't overthink this first section. Again, it's all about introducing the couple and the group gathered to celebrate their love.
Section 2: Introduce Yourself
Next, you have to give a little backstory about yourself. Again, the speech isn't about you, but you have to give context for not only why are you speaking, but where you fit into the whole relationship. Why are you the best man? What is your history with either of the happy couple? Providing context makes the next steps of your speech make sense for everyone in the room because while they know the newly married couple, the crowd might not have any clue as to who you are. An example for this section is:
For those of you in the room who might not know me, I'm Don, the groom's oldest brother, and Best Man. Given Gerry has another brother, I'm feeling pretty lucky to have been welcomed to join in their special day and as the one in charge of ensuring Don was here today like I had to do on Gerry's first day of Kindergarten.
As you can see from the example above, this is a place you can insert a little humor into your speech.
Section 3: A Personal Story
The third section of your speech is arguably the hardest to write and is so often where people go way off the rails. You have already mentioned your relationship to the couple, now you have to make a connection with them and what they mean to you and each other. The key here, however, is to not insult the groom. You can poke fun at him through the story, but remember to stay classy. Stay the Best Man. Here's a short example:
I don't want to take up too much time, but I have one quick story to share about our happy couple, particularly, Gerry. Gerry and I were out having lunch a few months ago, talking about the wedding, their new house, and career stuff. I asked him, "Let's face it Gerry, back in high school you were a slacker. What happened? You're a lawyer now, you put on a suit for court, in which you are not the defendant – always a plus – what happened?" Gerry went on to say, "Rebecca happened, Don. She pushes me every day to be better. She doesn't ask me to be better. I want to be better for her. She's already perfect, hardworking, and loving. I can't be a slacker around that. That mind change started on our first date in college."
That love. That connection. It means everything between these two. Rebecca, you took a slacker and filled his heart with love and affection. You have made Gerry a better man – not the Best Man, that's still me. You made him someone who cares more about you than pretty much everything in this world, which is amazing to see.
Again, you can dip into the humor, but finish with emotion and connection.
Section 4: Importance of Love
Just because this is a Best Man's speech doesn't mean it has to be proto-typical masculine or crude. You are at a wedding. You are – hopefully – surrounded by love. You have to acknowledge its importance, not only for the couple but for everyone celebrating. The fourth section could be like this:
Love is here today and we can all see it. We see it in the smiling glances between Gerry and Rebecca and we've all heard it in the stories so many have shared today. If you've found that love, you know it is pure and means the world to those lucky couples and those in their lives. Seeing how happy Gerry is today and every day with Rebecca brings more love into our whole family than I would have ever imagined.
There's nothing intense or poetic in this section that you have to touch on. You simply need to let the audience know that their love means something to you as the Best Man.
Section 5: The Sign Off
Ending a speech can be tricky, but it doesn't have to me. You've just talked about the groom, the couple, and the love they share, now toast to them and their future as a happy couple. Here's how you could end off the speech:
Gerry, thank you for having me as your Best Man. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else than celebrating your and Rebecca's love. Please everyone raise your glasses to toast the happy couple. Gerry and Rebecca, your love is shining bright today and I know it will be that way throughout your life together. May you live in happiness, prosperity, and filled with love together. To the happy couple!
You could try to swing the humor back into the final part of the toast, but don't force it. It could be memorable, but don't force it or it will detract from your entire speech.
In the end, a speech doesn't have to be long, it doesn't have to be stressful, and it doesn't have to be painful for you or your audience. Keep it short. Keep it upbeat. And, don't forget to share the love. Use this five-step system and you'll be toasting to the happy couple in no time.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 David Tubbs