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Best Man Speech Structure: Examples and Ideas to Impress

Looking for ideas on how to structure your best man speech? We’ve got you covered – here's what you need to include, how long it should be, and what to avoid!

A bride and groom throw their heads back and laugh in a rustic barn wedding setting as the best man gives a speech

Picture the scene… you’re standing at the head table, glass of champagne in hand, next to your just-married best pal. All eyes are on you, the room goes quiet, the guests are eagerly awaiting an engaging, sentimental and hilarious speech. No pressure, right? Getting the best man speech structure right can help you feel more confident.

Your role as best man or best person is about so much more than the speech; you have to organise a stag do, safeguard the rings, offer assistance and support – but the wedding guests won’t remember any of that – they’ll remember whether you’re an expert raconteur or a deer in the headlights.

You want your best man speech to strike a balance of humorous memories and thoughtful anecdotes. And while you may have your sights set on wowing the guests with your originality and unique comedic timing, you should still follow a best man speech structure in order to get things right.

Not only will it help you to remember everything you want to include, but it will make sure that you don’t swerve too far from the path leading to an enjoyable and appropriate speech. In brief, expert Wedding Wordsmith, Amerdeep Sanghera of Lovingly Penned, shares some insight: “Begin with a lively anecdote about your relationship with the groom, or start with a quote that showcases your relationship,” she says.

“Express heartfelt appreciation for the groom, highlighting his special qualities and shared moments. Then you can go on to discuss how the couple met and their unique connection, emphasising moments that showcase their bond. Conclude with sincere well-wishes for their future, ending with a personalised quote capturing your hopes for their journey.”

So, when should your best man speech take place? The couple may want to shake things up a bit and have their own unique timing and order for speeches. If they have a wedding weekender, maybe it’ll be on the night before the ceremony, or they might want different members of the wedding party to do speeches at different parts of the day.

But, if we are reflecting on the traditional wedding speech order, the first speech comes from the father of the bride, followed by the groom, and the best man speech comes last. Another tradition is for the best man to read out any the messages and telegrams from guests who can’t be there on the day. Below we’ve detailed the basic best man speech structure and a breakdown of what you need to include.

As well as the structure of a best man’s speech, there are many other elements to consider – read on for our tips and guidance on an ideal best man speech format...

Best Man Speech Structure: The Basics

A young boy gives a best man speech as his parents, the bride and groom, look on at the top table

Following this best man speech structure will mean you’ll include all the traditional aspects and won’t forget any essential elements. Of course you’ll be able to put your own personal touches to all the stages – look at it as a roadmap, and you can add the scenery that will captivate guests and honour your friendship:

  • Break the ice: Kick things off with a light-hearted icebreaker or a well-chosen best man joke. This not only warms up the guests, but will calm your nerves! It will set a friendly tone for what’s to come.
  • Introduce yourself and your friendship: After your opening, introduce yourself. Share how you met your bestie, which will help to establish your connection to everyone else in the room, particularly those who may not know you so well.
  • Messages from afar: The couple may ask you to read some messages from friends and family who couldn’t make it to the big event. It’s a lovely gesture, an will be really meaningful to some people in the room. On the flip side… it can be a funny to make up some fake names and give some joke messages to make it more light-hearted.
  • Story-time: This is where you get to share some of your amusing anecdotes and stories about the groom/newlywed. The tradition here leans towards playful roasting, but always keep it friendly and respectful. If you have a prop or a stunt that enhances the story (and is in good taste), this is the time to use it. You can also get some funny stories from your friend’s family and childhood pals for an added touch that they may not expect.
  • Words of wisdom: If you have some light-hearted yet sincere advice for the newlyweds, now is the time for it. If you’re not married, or don’t know what to say, you could get some fun top tips from friends and family of the couple on love, compromise and everyday living
  • Praises the partner: Take a moment to compliment your friend’s new partner. You can add a memory of when you knew they were destined to be together, say something about what qualities they bring to your friend’s life, or reflect on your favourite things about them and their relationship.
  • Acknowledge the bridal party: If there are bridesmaids, thank then for their role on the day and for everything they’ve done in the run up to the wedding.
  • The final toast: Conclude your speech by raising a glass to the couple. Wish them a future filled with happiness, and invite all the guests to join in this heartfelt sentiment.

How Long Should The Best Man Speech Be?

a top table full of wedding party guests, including the newlyweds, laughing in a line as the best man stands giving a speech

If you want your speech to feel fun and engaging, then you don’t want to go on and on to the point where you loose the attention of those in the room – even if you feel like you have so much to say! Similarly, you don’t want to rush through like a tornado, which will make people think you didn’t put enough effort in.

So then, exactly how long should a best man speech be? The sweet spot is around seven minutes, which feels like the perfect time for a clearly planned-out and well-rehearsed speech. “I would say 5-10 minutes max,” says Amerdeep.

“Any longer, and people will start to switch off and you may lose the meaning of the speech.” A final tip to help you with timekeeping and following the best man speech structure is to not drink too much beforehand. While Dutch courage may feel tempting, it may also encourage you to go off piste and ad-lib – you may miss out important elements or add in stories that make you over-run.

What Should I Include In the Best Man Speech?

A groom covering his face with his hands and smiling as he listens to the best man's speech

If you need some more guidance on the best man speech structure, we’ve got you! Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the key elements of a best man speech structure and what to include. The best and most memorable speeches are lighthearted and personal. Think about the guests – if there are a mixture of older and younger people, especially children, you don’t want to go too risquè and offend anyone – it’s best to avoid swearing!

Ice Breakers & Jokes for the Best Man Speech

Set the tone for your speech with a great opening line. You’ll be coming straight after the groom so a joke about his speech or him will go down well. A joke about your unpreparedness can win over your audience too. The only things to avoid are the overdone best man jokes, which’ll get a groan rather than a laugh. Here are some of our favourites that are sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

  • “I was taught by my parents that if I had nothing good to say about someone to sit down and be quiet…” (Sit down)
  • “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank all of you for being here today, especially those of you who knew that I’d be saying a few words – it’s very touching that you still decided to come.”
  • "I’ve been worried about giving this speech for a while now. Fortunately last night I slept like a baby – I woke up crying every two hours."
  • “I just heard there was a competitive sweepstake on how long the best man speech should last. I put my money on 45 minutes, so make yourselves comfortable!”
  • “This speech won’t contain anything embarrassing about the groom. Instead I’ll refer only to the kind and funny side of their character. Thank you and goodnight.”

Introducing Yourself

You might be best man but not everyone will know who you are. So, the next step in best man speech structure is to introduce yourself: tell the guests your name, describe how you met your best friend, and reveal how long you’ve known each other. Perhaps there's a humorous tale about your first encounter? Was stepping into the role of best man a delight or a bit of a challenge? It’s the perfect moment to tease what the groom might expect from your speech in the next few minutes.

At this juncture, feel free to throw in some observations about the day. If a humorous incident occurred during the ceremony, now’s your chance to weave in a spontaneous joke. Maybe the groom is looking particularly sharp today? Or perhaps there’s a light-hearted comment to be made about the venue, the attire or the cake? This is a great opportunity to add some levity and personal touches to your speech. Here are some fun ways to introduce yourself that might inspire you:

  • “Welcome everyone, my name is ‘X’ and I’ve known ‘X’ since we were kids. ‘X’ hates it when I take all the attention away from them, so as a mark of respect, please don’t stand on the tables and chairs when you give me a standing ovation at the end of the speech.”
  • “Hello everyone, I’m ‘X’ and I’ve been best friends with ‘X’ for the past 15 years. For those of you that already know me – I apologise – for those that don’t, don’t listen to any of the rumours!”

Reading Out Messages

Part of your best man speech structure involves reading messages from friends and family who can’t be there on the day – some of the messages may bring lots of emotion to the guests, so it’s an important aspect. This is a great opportunity to add a surprise or something funny to mix. Maybe you can get an old teacher to write a note, or a fun message from the landlord at their local pub, perhaps.

Taking it a step further, you could put in some fake messages that will bring a laugh from the guests. Maybe Channing Tatum could send his apologies for not turning up, saying it was too hard to watch ‘the one that got away’.

Or you can have a note from the police, stating that they need to get a new statement of events from the stag do and wondered when you would be available. Maybe you can insert a message from an old boss or teacher asking where their invitation is...

Story Time & Anecdotes

This is the key section of your best man speech structure. You want to take your audience on a journey of your friendship and give an overview of who they are as a person to their friends. If you know them from school, you can walk down memory lane with some childhood stories, perhaps. Was there a silly reason they always ended up in detention? Did they used to stick up for you against the school bullies? Mix up fun stories and happy memories – this is not about utterly humiliating them to get a laugh.

If you’re feeling nervous about all the attention being on you, you can use some props to help weave your story. You could put together a slideshow of photos – may be some from childhood, and some funny more recent shots, too. Or you can pick a theme – if they are known for always wearing the same jumper of shirt, get the photographic evidence out.

Do they always do the same pose in pictures? Show the guests! Another great prop idea is to write a humorous rhyme, or if you have the singing skills, a song or rap. You could even read a mock school report or CV, with funny and ridiculous achievements. Were they ridiculously proud of their Duke of Edinburgh award? Now’s the time to discuss it!

When telling stories in your best man's speech, it's important to stay true to yourself. There's no need to play a role just because you're standing in front of an audience. For instance, if you're not known as the comedian among your friends, you shouldn't feel compelled to crack a series of jokes. Similarly, if sentimentality isn’t your usual style, don’t feel obligated to make your speech overly emotional. Keeping things light and straightforward is perfectly acceptable.

Your authenticity will resonate more genuinely with both the newlyweds and their guests, making your speech more impactful and memorable. Amerdeep tells us: “The speech doesn't have to be funny at all. In fact, there's nothing worse than trying to crack a joke and getting silence in return. Take the pressure off yourself. Heartfelt speeches are always well-received and popular among guests.”

Advice and Compliments

Giving some heartfelt and friendly advice is par for the course in your best man speech structure. And, there are so many different ways of doing this. If you are married, you and your partner could come up with some golden rules for happiness.

If you’re not, you could ask friends for their tips, or a nice touch would be to ask for some sage words from parents or grandparents who have decades of knowledge under their belts! You can ask them the most important lesson they’ve learnt during their marriage, or for tips on preventing arguments and the secrets to happiness!

If you don’t want to go down this route, you could also present marriage tips and advice you’ve seen from famous couples on tv or movies. We have been swooning over this quote from Grey’s Anatomy between Meredith and Derek: “"To love each other, even when we hate each other. No running – ever. Nobody walks out no matter what happens. Take care when old, senile, smelly. This is forever." For more ideas, you’ll enjoy these marriage quotes and quips.

You will also want to raise a toast to the other members of the wedding party, thanking them for everything they have helped with on the day and in the run up to it. Remember to thank parents for their support to the couple, and then finally, you need to raise the final glass and toast the couple.

This is a wonderful honour to have been given, and you can honour them in return with some kind words. Or use it as one last chance to get a laugh! Whatever you choose, check out these brilliant ideas for wedding toasts

If you want to see some best man speech examples that you can use as a template or for ideas, here’s our collection of real best man speeches. These have been submitted by best men and ranked by our users so you’ll find examples of what you should and shouldn’t do.