Being chosen as the best man for a friend’s wedding is one of those great honours people long for. But how do you write a best man’s speech, and what else is expected? Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
First and foremost, a best man should remember that he is there to support the person who invited him to take on the role. If that person says no buck’s night, there will be no buck’s night. If that person is stuggling to tie his tie, you better know how. If that person wants to wear a hot pink suit, you may have to convince their fiancé to let them do so, help them find a hot pink suit, or stage an intervention. Or possibly all three!
However it plays out, if you’re focused on helping, you’ll do well.
Now, the term best man is slightly in decline, and even the customs around what he does are not set in stone. There is certainly no reason why this role cannot be undertaken by a woman, and a male best man could be there to support a bride!
Whatever the context, the list below is a random collection of things best men over the years have taken on. In twenty-first century weddings, though, no task should simply be assumed: always speak with the couple about what they expect, and follow their lead.
In order of the most common roles that fall to a best man to the least, here it is:
- Get the groom to the ceremony
- Get the rings to the ceremony
- Witness the groom’s signature on the marriage certificates
- Write and deliver the best mans speech
- Propose the first toast to the newlyweds
- Join the first dance with the Maid of Honour
- Organise a bachelor party
- Help with outfit planning
- Collect cards and gifts from guests
- Keep the official certificate of marriage safe
Preparing a speech
Many best men sweat about preparing the best man’s speech. There have been many great ones and the bar is very high. So if you dont know where to start, the most important thing to do is start early!
A simple approach is to follow this pattern:
- Talk about the person who asked you to be their best man, and why they matter to you
- Talk about the person they’re marrying and why you support the marriage
- Wish them well.
If that sounds too simple, get started and you’ll quickly realise only the third point is easy! But also remember that if public speaking is a challenge for you, one paragraph on each of those points is enough. If your best man’s speech is two minutes of heartfelt congratulations, it will be perfect.
If you are more comfortable with public speaking, I would encourage you to have a look at my post about humour in wedding speeches. It is focused on queer weddings but very relevant for straight weddings too.
Have fun. If youre not having fun, the groom is probably not having fun either, and as their primary support person, its your role to change that. And keep in mind that this may mean supporting their partner as well!
There is no right or wrong way to be the best man, there’s just your way. Be yourself and stay focused on making your groom’s day.