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nailing Your Best Man Speech

Over the last couple of decades, best men speeches have become OTT, clichéd and generally a bit embarrassing (for the best man, not the groom ironically). Poor quality templates, the rise of Powerpoint and Googled gags are all partly to blame.

The thing is, writing a great best man speech is pretty simple. Granted, the Speechy team are BBC scriptwriters by trade (writing for shows like Have I Got News For You and Dead Ringers), so we’ve got a head-start.

After writing hundreds of speeches for best men around the world, we know the modern speech rules to put your speech into the premier league. We also know the techniques us scriptwriters use to create original  humour without resorting to cheesy ‘jokes’ or alcohol. So read on…

* Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out our best man speech template,  speech edit service or bespoke speech writing service. Yes, we’ll slog it out so you can concentrate (recover from?) the stag do.

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5 Best Man Rules

Rule 1: Dig up the Dirt

First step in writing your speech is to make sure you have blooming great content. You might think you have loads of good stories already but there will be better out there, so get digging and get dirty.

Email your mates and ask for their favourite groom stories – times he’s been clueless / his quirky faults / embarrassing moments – you know the deal.

Tap up the groom’s family for any classic tales from his childhood and find out if the bride is giving a speech. If not – get her onside to dish the dirt. She might relish having her say!

Ask her how the groom could become a better husband. Find out what he does that annoys her. Surprise him (and everyone else) with your inner knowledge of his relationship.

Rule 2: Find a Theme

The majority of best men resort to the classic ‘reasons the groom is an idiot’ as their narrative hook but dude, make some effort.

Rather than just a collection of anecdotes and obvious punchlines, build a narrative, a proper story, and make sure your speech is crafted rather than just a cut and paste job.

The theme doesn’t need to be complicated, it might just be a retelling of your bro-mance and its tragic end when the bride came on the scene.  If the groom’s now a vaguely respectable teacher,  reveal the alarming things he’s taught you over the years (snorting Sambuca etc). If he’s a wannabe musician,  chronicle his life through musical eras. Or use Yoda quotes to give him marriage advice if he’s a hardcore Star Wars fan.

Finding the right theme obviously depends on the personality of the groom but crack it, and you’re half way there.

Rule 3: Less is More

You’re aiming for 8 to 10 minutes for a best man speech (a bit longer allowing for laughter and ad-libs). It sounds short but no one ever witnessed a best man speech and said ‘if only it were longer’.

Even if you have a wealth of material, be strict with yourself. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length, and we guarantee it will be twice as good.

Ernest Hemingway said ‘The first draft of anything is shit’. This is not only true but reassuring.

People are generally more powerful when their words are punchy. It’s the same with jokes – keep ’em snappy.

Rule 4: Be nice

Once you’ve got the embarrassing stories out of the way, a best man speech should be a heartfelt tribute to a true friend.

Don’t resort to clichés about him being a ‘top bloke’ without providing the evidence that he is.

Prove – don’t tell. Avoid using too many adjectives. Give specific examples of these qualities in action.

Pinpoint the things you genuinely like about him. Is he the only friend who shares your fascination with Elon Musk? Is he the one person who makes you feel better about your DIY skills? Is he still the mate with cool music suggestions?

Remember to keep it NUT – Nice, Unique and True(ish).

Rule 5: Prepare to Deliver

A confident delivery is half the battle.

Make sure the groom has checked the acoustics of the venue & there’s a mic there if you need it (so many speeches are ruined just because the guests can’t hear them).

Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled). If you’re using paper, opt for thick A4 but only print 3/4 of the way down so you can maintain eye contact with your audience. You could also use a tablet to read from (it avoids paper-shake and looks less casual than reading it from your phone).

More delivery tips in our Wedding Ideas article or in our Delivery Blog. 

Best Man Etiquette

Don’t get laden down by old-school etiquette. Our Speechy rules come with High Street Gent and Moss Bros approval.

1 – BE YOURSELF – Don’t feel you need to go posh just because you’re wearing a suit. No need to address everyone as ‘ladies & gentleman’; a ‘well hello everyone’ will suffice. Obviously don’t swear if there are children present, though a few bloodies, bloomings and bollocks can add an acceptable edge.

2 – BRIDE -The best man must  compliment the bride and it helps if this sounds sincere. If you don’t know her well, do a bit of research so you can say more than the usual platitudes. Can she put up a tent better than her husband? Has she turned him into a quinoa fan? Be original but remember one cliche is a must; all brides look beautiful.

3 – TELEGRAMS – Speak to the groom about what he wants to do about ‘the telegrams’ but try to avoid them if you can (generally they’re not very funny and, in the world of Zoom & Whatsapp, completely blooming pointless).

4 – BRIDESMAIDS – Some best men like to compliment the bridesmaids but it’s actually the groom’s job. Your choice really, but keep it short if you do.

5 – TOAST – According to Debrett’s the best man speech usually includes a toast to ‘Mr and Mrs [newlywed’s Surname]’ and might announce the cutting of the cake. At Speechy we prefer to find a unique way to toast the newly-hitched- even if it’s just to ‘the coolest couple this side of the Hog’s Head’.

Speech Do's

Check with the groom – anything he wants you to do (other than not abusing him)? Anything he’d like you not to mention?!?

Practise your speech and film it on your phone – Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your gut and spot where your speech can be improved.

Have back up notes on the day – Give a spare copy to a trusted mate in advance (or email it to your phone).

Talk slower than feels natural – It’s what those authoritative people do to make themselves seem more intelligent.

Smile – Remember everyone wants you to do well so make sure you smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious.

Feel free to use smart quotes – But make sure you credit the author or someone else will! Check out our Quote Inspiration guide.

Speech Don'ts

Don’t thank anyone – It’s not your day, and it’s not your job.

Don’t ignore the feedback of friends – It’s always worth testing your speech out on a mate, but this also means you have to listen to them. If they don’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.

Don’t talk over laughter – You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until the guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.

Don’t resort to ‘in-jokes’ – Remember there are grannies out there. And a lot of people who weren’t on the Stag Do and won’t find the story about Tika the waitress and her hairy chicken quite so funny.

Don’t mention exes – Even if you have a wealth of material, sorry, the rule still applies. Don’t mention exes.

Finding Your Funny

So we all know this is how you’ll be judged. Here are the basic rules.

1- AVOID WEDDING ‘JOKES’ – Being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet. Humour comes from real life so don’t look anywhere else for your inspiration. You’ve got a ready-made character that you can play with and even if the groom is on the straight and boring side, we guarantee there will be fun to be had. Yes, it’s more effort to create original humour but there’s never an excuse for jokes about honeymoons in Bangor.

2 – IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S TRUE – Start by thinking about the things that make the groom unique. Everyone’s a nut-job in their own way, so what traits will his friends and family will recognise as truly ‘him’.

Ask yourself lots of questions – what’s his worst habit (skinny jeans), what’s his guilty pleasures (Dire Straits), what might he love more than his bride (Abdul’s kebabs), what’s odd about him (his unusually short T-Rex arms) . Once you have good content to play with, the comedy will be much easier to find.

3 – CREATE A CHARACTER – Imagine the groom was the central character in a sitcom. What type of person would he be?

The health freak who transforms into a kebab-eating monster after a pint? The workaholic engineer who still calls on his elderly dad to help him with Ikea flatpack? The family man who has a secret life in his shed?

Once you find a basic premise, use anecdotes can help build on the character you’ve created.

4 – KEEP IT SIMPLE – Good writing is all you need for a great speech. Powerpoint and props can often get in the way and stress you out. Keep your speech short and your jokes punchy.

One great joke is better than a dozen average ones.

5 – GET INSPIRED  – Check out Boris Johnson’s wedding speech as imagined by the Speechy Team.

Happy Customers

2nd time I’ve worked with Speechy and once again they’ve done an incredible job. Heidi was very nice to deal with & accommodating when I asked if Ed & Tom could help with my speech (as they did my 1st speech). They were excellent to work with & the final speech had everyone crying with laughter!
Paid for a best man speech and delivery coaching. It was fantastic, lots of back and forth with the writer to make sure the speech was well structured, personal and very funny. The writer was also able to help me see which of my own jokes would work and why, and then integrate them into his draft.
I am soooooo happy you wrote it and not me. It saved me so much time and you did a much better job than I ever could. Bride and groom were so happy and I received all the compliments for your perfectly designed speech.
So many compliments. The bride actually said it was fantastic and she doesn't really like me that much. Having the knowledge that professionals had crafted it gave me so much confidence to stand up and deliver it!
Any nerves I had quickly disappeared after I received the first draft. A few tweaks later and I had my masterpiece. Cannot recommend enough. Delivery coaching was 5* too, it wasn't just obvious stuff, I really learnt a lot about how to give a funny speech.
The team at speechy wrote me such a good speech.. I actually laughed reading through it! They are super talented and are constantly in touch with you throughout the process. It's so easy too. All I had to do was share some stories and personality traits and they turn it into a unique and personal speech.
I've never done any public speaking, but I'm actually really looking forward to delivering my speech and seeing the reaction of friends and family! I'd highly recommend speechy to anyone who is thinking of doing a speech.. even if you think you've nailed it already- speechy will make it even better!
Speech helped me massively! I sent my speech over to Speechy who edited it to be the best version it could. The speech went down better than I could of imagined, my brother even said "I didn't think you could write a speech as good as that but well done"! haha! I obviously took the credit for it 😊
5 star service. After some pre-wedding Best Man nerves kicked in, I researched quite a few different companies online and after reading their reviews, felt comfortable entrusting Speechy to give me that perfect speech. They didn't disappoint. After filling out a questionnaire, Heidi and her crew crafted a superb speech.

Who We Are

Speechy is a team of speechwriters with a background scriptwriting for the BBC, Sky, C4 and working with the UK’s top TV talent.

Between us, we’ve written for much-loved comedy programmes, directed shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and ghostwritten for comedians who are household names. We’re writers at the top of our game.

Speechy has been referenced as a creative team to watch by Rock N Roll Bride, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Metro, Moss Bros and the Huff Post.

We’re definitely on the ‘creative spectrum’ but we’re also consciousness & quality-driven and we hope you’d rather love working with us.

Meet the Speechy Team

A Global Service

Whatever your timezone, wherever you lay your hat, we can still work with you. Our team are based in the UK (GMT) but we work with clients around the world.

We understand the universal truths of love and humour and can tailor our work to your audience both culturally and linguistically.

We find there are enough hours in our day to ensure our communication with you is seamless and we create a great relationship with you no matter the distance.

Email hello@speechy.co.uk, book a callback or call us now.

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