You’ve arranged an amazing stag do for the groom, and he’s now ready to be sent off into marital bliss. But as the best man the stag do is just one of your duties (admittedly it’s the most fun one of them). On the big day you’ll have to pull out the big guns and deliver the ultimate best man’s speech.
Now you could put it off until the morning of the wedding and wing it, but like a great stag do, a great speech needs some planning. So starting writing your speech with a few weeks to spare, you’ll do yourself – and the groom – justice and go down as a legend of a best man!
With that in mind, we’ve put together the ultimate guide
Start with a bang and end with a big payoff. Connect emotionally with the audience and take them on a journey. Make them laugh, make them cry. Remind everyone how special the day is and make your best mate look good (not too good!). Be pithy and don’t ramble. Keep it all under ten or fifteen minutes and the guests will thank you.
It's a lot to keep in mind, but don’t be nervous, with a solid structure you'll get to hit on all the essential notes. Below is The Stag Company formula for speech success:
An opening line is all about setting the tone. Fail to nail this and you've lost your audience before you've ever started. Generally, a top joke puts everyone in the right mood. There's a few ways to approach this; traditionally you'll be speaking after the groom, so a joke insult about his speech or at his expense is always a winner. However, if you're speaking after the bride's father we'd say steer clear of that and instead - go down the self-deprecating route. A line about how nervous or unprepared you are is a great way to get in an early laugh and get the audience on your side.
It might seem a little obvious to introduce yourself. Obviously the bride and groom know who you are. But at a big wedding there's a decent chance that many of the relatives and more distant friends might not. So breaking down how you all know one another is a great way to add some substance and context. This is also a fantastic opportunity to pay some compliments to the bride and the bridesmaids. Anything about how beautiful they look is a sure fire way to set the bride and her family at ease.
This is always one of the key bits. You're really here on behalf of the groom, so a whole section dedicated to him is essential. You'll be talking about your relationship with the groom, but remember to keep in mind that this is about HIM not you, so the focus should always be on him. This is a great chance to build up the comedy and regale the audience with funny anecdotes, maybe about how you met. Keep in mind your audience - the time the groom pulled a 'girl' in Thailand is probably not kosher subject matter for a wedding. And remember that this isn't just jokes at the groom's expense, you're here to make him look good not roast him, so throw in a few lines about what a great guy he is.
A great best man's speech should flow. It's all in the delivery. You want to skip from Point A to B to C in a brisk but not rushed manner. Feel free to take a pause when you feel like it, the audience is listening to them so command their attention. Don't rush through your speech at a million miles an hour. If you do you'll mumble and gabble and your jokes will fall flat.
And just as important? Don't be responsible for the dreaded drunk speech. People will call it ‘memorable' for all the wrong reasons. Hitting up the bubbly early can seem like a great idea to control your nerves but it's a mistake. Remember that you've got all the time in the world after your speech is over to take advantage of the free bar!
The Wedding Day
Once you've exhausted all your clean material about you and the groom you'll want to move onto the day itself. Highlight the effort that's gone into the day and make sure you pay particular attention to the contribution of the bride's parents - after all there's a decent chance they paid for it! If you're talking about the particulars of the day an off-the-cuff observation about the ceremony so far, or the menu or something along those lines makes your speech seem less scripted and more improvisational.
You should be hitting the middle of your speech around this point, and it's where you should probably start to move the tone away from comedy and to something a little more ‘feeling-y'. Unlike the groom, if you're making any jokes at the bride's expense it's not going to go well, and you might upset here on her big day. That's not to say you can't keep the comedy going, feel free to regale everyone with how you the first time you met the bride you thought she was too good for the groom and by the second time you were certain. That sort of thing. This should all be about how amazing she is and how she's made the groom happier than ever. That sort of soppy stuff.
We're in full soppy territory here. Talk about how good the bride and groom are together. Drop in a few anecdotes here, talk about how they've affected everyone's life and how happy everyone is to see them together. If you have stories that are likely to turn on the waterworks, then this is the time! Things not to mention in this section range from past girlfriends (or wives), arguments, and chances are anything that happened on your Eastern Europe stag.
Try to be original. Clichés are overused and tired, avoid them like the plague (get it?) . If your opening line is anything like "The last time I stood up in front of a room of people I was found guilty" or "My name is ____ and I'm an alcoholic -wait, wrong speech." Is an absolute no-no. The same goes for tasteless jokes about the wedding night. And if we hear "It's been an emotional day – even the cake is in tiers.", one more time we're going to find whoever first wrote that and make sure they end up in tears.
Here you might want to talk about love in general. Mention the other couples (such as the parents of the bride or groom) as an example of who the new couple can look up to. You've got to toe the line here, things can easily get a little sickly sweet, so finishing with a strong joke can be essential here. After all it's your job to make everyone laugh, and the subject area of love and successful marriages is hardly a comedy goldmine!
Well done! We're in the home straight now! You've done it! The ending is where you summarise everything that you've covered in the speech. And this means that it's a great chance to call-back to some earlier jokes for a few more laughs. Leave your best jokes 'til now to ensure that everything ends on a happy note. Offer some advice to the couple, wish them all the best and ask the audience, along with you to raise a glass for the...
The best toasts are short and sweet, but that doesn't mean that you should put less effort into them. A good toast should take as long as the rest of your speech to come up with. It should reflect the tone of your speech. If you've been heavy on the comedy, a suddenly philosophical line about love can seem out of place. And equally if you've been all about the wonders of love, cracking out a one liner seems jarring and odd. After a fantastic closer it's time to take the praise for a fantastic speech.
There’s no more sure fire way to lose the audience’s attention than to be pausing every few minutes to ruffle through hastily written sheets of A4. Reading off a script takes away all the natural feel of a speech, you’ll look like a kid reading a report with the paper a few inches away from their face. If you’re worried about forgetting a line here or there, then we suggest using cue cards. Instead of having the entire speech on them they just have the key points for you to hit. Instead of starting at a sheet of paper you’ll be engaging with the audience.
At times during your best man speech you might want to turn up the emotional side of things, but whatever anyone says the main duty of the best man is to get everyone laughing during the speech. But we've all been to plenty of weddings where the jokes are cheesy, poorly delivered and with a worse sense of timing than a broken stopwatch, the kind of speeches where you're much more likely to cringe than even get a few pity titters.
To make sure that your comedy routine doesn't die a laughless death there's a few things to keep in mind, there's the tone, your delivery and ensuring that you've learned them off by heart so you're never floundering for a punchline.
Put simply, remember where you are. If there's any chance that one of your jokes might go down a controversial route, or offend anyone then take it out. You're not Jimmy Carr, you're not Frankie Boyle, you're here to make everyone laugh, not give nana a heart attack.
It's all about the audience. This means steering clear of inside jokes that only you and the groom will get, he might have a chuckle but everyone else will be puzzled at mention of the 'Noodle incident'.
Don't bore people, when you're telling a hilarious story, it stops being hilarious when you over-explain every part of it. How relevant is it to the audience to know that this particular incident happened when you were 18 in 2004 at 4:07am on Tuesday the 7th just off Second Street and the weather was a little bit rainy, not very rainy but a little bit...
If there's one thing show business got right it's 'fake it til you make it', good comedy has to be delivered confidently, so even if you're packed with nerves and shaking like the proverbial leaf just pretend that you're confident and you'll find the punchlines come off smother than a really smooth thing.
Furthermore, confidence isn't just about your voice. It's about your posture. Some best men end up looking so rigid they seem like they've had something shoved where it shouldn't. Focus on relaxing your limbs and your body, it won't just put you at ease, it'll make everyone watching you more relaxed too.
Be yourself. Don't make expectations for yourself too high. People are expecting to have a little chortle, they aren't expecting a comedy barrage. So if a joke or two fall flat, don't worry about it and move on. Half the people here are your nearest and dearest, so they won't care and chances are the other half will be too drunk to remember anyway!
It is a natural reaction for many to sip their drink and quickly sit down the moment you finish the speech, but this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing. You've worked hard to write the talk up, learn it all off by heard (even if you did use some notes) and delivered it with aplomb. Soak up all the attention you get and make the most of it. After a few seconds of drinking and smiling, you then need to pass the microphone on to whoever will be speaking after you. This is often the groom, so just check beforehand who you should be passing it to and work out a quick opener to get them a rapturous applause.
Here's a list of best man speech one liners that can be put in your best man speech.
"I heard there is a sweepstake going on the length of the speech. I bid on 1 hour, so good luck!"
"I'm a little bit nervous, but fortunately I received a few wise words in the build-up. I was told that talking to an audience is much like being at a nudist beach, it's only hard for the first few minutes."
"I'm going to ask you to keep laughter and applause to a minimum. I would appreciate it as I've got a bit of a hangover. I know it's inappropriate to drink before such a big day, but I couldn't leave the groom drinking alone."
"I heard somewhere that the speech shouldn't take longer than it takes the groom to make love. Well, that's all from me."
"For those of you who don't know me, my name is Tom. I have been Marcus's friend for 1 week now, he found my advert on Gumtree as he hasn't got many friends so had to hire someone for the day."
"John had a hard time choosing his best man. First he asked his funniest friend, and they said no. Second he asked his smartest friend, and they said no. Third, he asked his most handsome friend, and they said no. Finally, he called me up and I said "John, I can't say no to you four times.""
"I met the groom's parents earlier this year. And they told me to take some inappropriate stories out. So thank you very much, that's it from me."
"So where do I start with Dan? He's handsome. He's intelligent. He's witty. He's cha-... charm... what does that say there Dan? I can't make out your handwriting"
"There's some really important people here tonight. Some of whom you'll meet throughout the evening, and without whom none of this would be possible - so I hope you'll join me in toasting the barman."
"A husband is a lot like a hardwood floor. Lay it right the first time and you can walk all over it for the rest of your life."
"The Oxford English Dictionary describes a wedding as 'a fusing of two metals using a torch'"
"I wish them well on their honeymoon in Wales. What’s that? The honeymoon isn’t in Wales? I could’ve sworn the groom said he was going to Bangor for two weeks?"
"Nick, you really are lucky to have found such a beautiful and caring woman to become your wife. Nicola… at least it didn’t rain today."
"I did ask for a microphone. But unfortunately one could be provided. So if you can’t hear me at the back, the silence from the front should reassure you that you aren’t missing out."
"It’s funny how history repeats itself. It was 30 years ago that Sam and Samantha sent their daughter to bed with a dummy… and it’s happening all over again today."
"Unlike most best man’s speeches which can be full of innuendo, I’ve assured the bride and groom that if there’s anything they don’t like the look of I’ll whip it out immediately."
"How to describe Chris? I’ve spent a long time wondering how best to hit on the right tone of praise, warmth and sincerity that sums up his character. I could speak about him for an hour (don’t worry, I’m not going to) and I’d still be no closer to grasping the essential essence of this man. But funnily enough he can be neatly summed up with an internationally recognised hand gesture."
"The vicar wanted to make it clear to the couple that he is firm on his stance on sex before marriage. However, Jenny has assured him it would only take a few minutes."
Jamie Milligan is an ex-footballer who played for Everton and Blackpool. He hit the headlines last year after his best man Dan McKenzie made national news with his best man speech antics. In a genius trick the best man pretended to have forgotten his speech and ran out of the room. The screen in the room quickly cut to a video of him running out of the venue. It then shows McKenzie going to great lengths such as running down streets, over farm fields, stopping for an Ice Cream on Lytham seafront and also a pint. The comical journey includes nods to the groom’s football career and slapstick comedy as he falls over every obstacle rushing to get back to the wedding, where he runs back through at the end of the video. Genius.
Watch Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuTrA55ZUfQ
Darren Byrne is a best man from Ireland who stole the show at his best friend’s wedding with his great idea for personalisation. He spent 11 months collecting videos of messages from celebs for Darren Farrell and Anna Carey and played them at their wedding in Portugal. Byrne reached out to stars and agents to collate it all. He managed to get big names like James Corden, Gary Neville and Gary Barlow to give their best wishes to the couple. Of those that were unable to make time for a video they did receive an autographed photo to take home as a cool wedding present.
Watch Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2e3SujId-w
Dan Buccheri is a talented musician from Melbourne, Australia so when his brother Adrian asked him to be his best man you just know that is going to be great. Of course, Dan chose to do his speech in song form. He chose a medley of recognisable songs with edited lyrics. Included was songs from the Lion King, Backstreet Boys and R.Kelly, all with amusing lyrics. Eg “But now she has found the ignition, she got you sweeping the kitchen”. The song become very sincere and personal towards the end as he uses a take on Sam Smith’s hit Stay With Me to hit the hearts of everyone around.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XL9BB0ttsM
Well now you've got the speech down, but unfortunately it doesn't end there! There's the rest of your Best Man duties to worry about now, so you best read up on what to expect. And if you've been too busy preparing the perfect speech to prepare the perfect stag do then -first, what is wrong with you? - and you better take a look at our last minute page to save yourself, groom and the stag do from being stuck down the local boozer on the worst stag ever!
When it comes to the crunch, booking a weekend for your best friend can be a big, nay, gargantuan task! Where to go? What to do? What's good? What's bad? How many people will come? How do I pay for all this?
We can answer all of those questions and more for you, so if you were worrying, it's time to stop, and time to speak to those in the know; The Stag Company! We've sorted plenty of stag do's in our time, and now it's time to welcome you to the family.