Log In

Reset Password

Respectfully Yours: best man speech

Dear Jacquelyn,

I’m the best man in my older brother’s wedding this summer. I am expected to give the toast and I am not comfortable talking in front of a big crowd of people. Do you have any tips for making a solid speech?

Dear Reader,

Being asked to offer a toast at a wedding is an honor and the best man’s toast is as close to non-optional as it gets.

The first step to giving the perfect toast is practicing ahead of time. Write down what you’re going to say. A good best man’s speech should be limited to about five minutes, tops. Any longer and you’ll start to lose your audience.

Rehearse your speech out loud until you feel comfortable. It might help if you write out your speech on index cards. Memorize at least half of it, so you’re not looking down the whole time.

A good trick for calming your nerves is to focus on the groom, and pretend the rest of the audience doesn’t exist. This way you won’t be as nervous. Don’t rush or mumble. Smile and share your good humor with the crowd.

To pull off the perfect heartfelt speech, limit the number of drinks you have before you speak. Otherwise, you might say something you’ll regret later on. Use common sense and avoid controversial topics.

Having grown up with the groom, you’ll have a lifetime of shared experiences to draw from. You also have the advantage of plenty of friendly faces in the crowd and they’ll all be rooting for you.

Once you get over the fact that all eyes are on you, introduce yourself and clue everyone in on your relationship to the happy couple. Once everyone knows who you are, welcome them and thank them for attending on behalf of the couple.

Relax and share a happy, funny short story about your brother growing up and a bit about his exceptional traits. Sharing memories about the groom will keep people engaged. Talk about your brother meeting the love of his life and make a point of paying the bride a sincere compliment.

Wrap up your speech by adding some wise thoughts for their future.

You’ll finish it off by raising your glass and ask your guests to lift their glasses to the couple’s long happy future.

The key is to leave everyone with a heartfelt message and a good feeling.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2018 Jacquelyn Youst