The Top 10 Biggest Best Man Speech Mistakes
We all know that the best man and the best man speech is a central point of a wedding – you are expected to entertain the crowd in the right way.
However, a lot of best men take this entertainment too far.
You might have been at a wedding like this yourself – awkward silences, gasps and people not knowing where to look as the best man exhibits an absolute train wreck of a speech.
Many people don’t quite know where to draw the line:
– Should you mention the stripper on the stag do? (Definitely not – that’s an easy one)
– What about the stag do itself? Is it ‘what happens on the stag do stays on the stag do’, or can you use some stories in your speech? (Yes, but be careful – see mistake number 10)
That’s why today, we are going to help make sure that you are not one of ‘those guys’ who completely blows it on the day, by giving you the the top 10 biggest best man speech mistakes that we have found from dealing with best men over the years.
We want to make sure you are using jokes and stories in the right way and making people laugh with you, not at you in a horrified manner…
1. Trying To Make The Speech A Stand-Up Comedy Routine
This is easily by far the biggest mistake that we see best men make.
They think that the speech is supposed to be all about the jokes and end up turning it into a stand-up routine. Here’s the bad news for you: being a stand-up comedian takes years of practice and honing, you aren’t going to turn into one overnight.
If you try, you will most likely fail.
In addition to this, those stand-up comedians have full license to offend the crowd – it is part of the show. At a wedding, however, offending the audience is not part of your job – in fact if you were to follow this strategy it would have the exact opposite impact.
Here is something to think about if you are struggling with this concept: no more than 50% of your speech should be jokes.
There are a lot of other things that should go in there – check out our free best man speech guide if you are not sure what they are.
And remember that while your job is to poke fun at the groom, it isn’t a complete roast – you are not supposed to humiliate him to the point that 50% of the people there are wondering why their daughter/friend/relative has just married this guy…
2. Drinking Too Much Before The Speech
This is pretty much never a good idea, no matter how well you think you handle your alcohol or how gifted a speaker you think you are.
Drunken best men can ruin the show for the bride-to-be and the groom and you don’t want to be remembered for this. You can have 1 or 2 drinks – if you are reasonably able to handle them. Save the rest for after the speech.
This might require strong will-power – we are at a celebration after all – but trust us when we say that beer/wine/whatever your drink is going to taste a hundred times better after your speech is done.
3. Giving A Speech That Is Far Too Long
Firstly, ‘that’s what she said’. I get to make bad jokes like that – don’t do it in your speech though.
Secondly, nobody wants to sit while a best man speech goes on for too long – no matter how funny it is. I was at a wedding once where the best man speech was so long, we had run out of wine on the table by the end of it – so couldn’t even toast the bride and groom!
Your speech should be 5 minutes as a maximum.
If you’ve never done a lot of public speaking before, 5 minutes is actually quite a long time to stand up and talk for. You would need a lot of material. The only exception to this is The Twist – one of our 3 secrets to a top best man speech.
When we say 5 minutes, we mean the material itself should be 5 minutes before you add on any fun things on top of that.
4. Not Leaving Enough Time For Practice
Many best men leave writing their speech until the last minute. They do this out of fear, anxiety, nervousness or simply not knowing what to say.
Do not do this.
If you are reading this article, you are probably thinking about writing your speech… Do it now (when you’ve finished this article of course) – even just a few ideas or words to get you started.
Do not leave this until the last minute.
The reason why this is such a huge mistake is that if you don’t practice your speech in advance, you will end up reading it off the paper with your head down and not engaging with the audience. If you have read your speech 20 times, you will know it very well and will not only be able to keep your head up and deliver it properly, but you will be much more confident.
Another huge reason to practice is to reduce nerves.
When you stand up and deliver that opening line – and you know what the next lines are – you will instantly feel a buzz of confidence. The opposite also applies – if you are unsure of what is coming next and are not quite practiced enough, it will only make you more nervous.
5. Using Adult Jokes, Topics Or Words
I don’t know how many times I have to say this before people get it but adult jokes – in any shape or form – do not belong in a best man speech ever.
End of story.
I don’t care how funny they are or if ‘they’re not really that bad’ – this is not a stand-up comedy routine (see mistake #1) and regardless of how inoffensive you think they are, you might be speaking to upwards of 100 people and it is almost guaranteed that some of these people will find the joke crude and offensive.
The sad fact is that one bad line in a speech could mean it is all your speech is remembered for.
This might make you nervous but you don’t need to be if you just stay clear of adult language and jokes. It really is that simple.
6. Using ‘Inside’ Jokes, Topics Or Words
The problem with some of the best man speeches that we have reviewed, is that you can make this mistake without even knowing it.
But before we get that, the first form that this mistake takes the form of is talking about stories and jokes that only a few people in the room will get – like you and the groom’s 3 closest buddies, for example. Maybe you all went to school/college/university together and it’s an inside joke related to this.
This one is pretty easy to avoid – just don’t do this.
For example, if you are telling a story from the stag do, explain all the circumstances and make sure everyone can get it. Don’t just say something like ‘but we won’t forget about the banana in Magaluf eh boys!’. If you are going to mention the banana in Magaluf (which sounds like it might break mistake 5) then tell the whole story around it.
However, recently a more common version of this mistake is where you make the mistake but don’t even realise you are doing so. The subjects where we most regularly see this in our speech reviews are around TV shows, celebrities and football/sports:
– TV shows and celebrities are so bad for inside jokes or references that I would almost go as far as saying not to include any references to them at all. The thing is that you could be talking about the most famous popular TV show or celebrity in the world (in your eyes) but it does not matter – when you are speaking to a large audience it is 100% guaranteed that people there will not have seen the TV show or know who the person is. For TV shows, recently the most common thing I see nowadays are Game Of Thrones references – do not use these in your speech!
– Inside sport references are hard because you might not even know they are ‘inside references’ if you are living and breathing your team/sport. Believe it or not, but there are many people out there who don’t know who Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi are – so no matter how much you think the groom looks like (or used to look like) one of them, they simply won’t get the reference. Check with someone else (somebody who has nothing to do with your team and doesn’t follow the sport) to see if they ‘get’ the reference. A better option is simply to take it out and replace it with someone else.
7. Using Too Many Stories About Yourself
Everyone knows that the groom – and making a few jokes at his expense – is a key part of a best man speech. However, some best men can go completely off topic on this – telling long, winding stories about things that they and the groom did – just the two of them.
These can be entertaining – if done right – but too often the main characters in the story are you and the groom, so everyone else (that is – the entire audience including the bride) feel left out.
The trick to not making this mistake is to make sure and not go into too much detail in your stories involving the groom, try and tell at least one story involving the bride and groom (you can still make fun of the groom while doing this) and stick on topic – you are at a wedding and people want to hear about the bride and groom, not your personal history or stories where you are the central character.
You also don’t need to show-off, justify or prove that you know the groom better than anyone else – or you could end up making this mistake.
The fact that you are the best man means that everyone there already knows this – you don’t need to remind them!
8. Mentioning Ex-Girlfriends, Former Wives Or Previous Marriages
This one is really, really easy: under no circumstances whatsoever should you ever mention an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife in your best man speech.
It is really that simple. You can mention things about how ‘bad with the ladies’ your groom is or was – but never, ever, ever mention a previous partner.
The absolute last thing in the world the bride wants to hear on her wedding day – and the rest of the audience too for that matter – is that other partners existed in the groom’s life other than her.
The theme of any wedding is that this couple is perfect together – do not dare do anything that might challenge that theme or your speech will not go down well.
9. Jokes About The Bride
A lot of people react to mistake #7 – where we pointed out that involving the bride in the stories in your speech is something you must do – by including the bride but in a negative way where you are joking about her.
This is an absolute no.
The tone of your speech should be that ‘the bride is the most amazing person in the world and your idiot, silly groom friend is a lucky man to have found her’. When including the bride in your speech remember this and make sure that any jokes are pointed at the groom and not her.
10. Stag Do Stories Gone Wrong
Stag do stories are always a problem in speeches we see. Don’t get me wrong, I think including a story about the stag do is fine – you just need to be really careful.
Firstly, you need to first check that you are not committing mistake #1, #5 or #6.
Secondly, I would definitely take a stag do story and read it to someone who wasn’t there – your significant other or a friend from a different group. See if they think it is appropriate, funny or they ‘get’ it.
Finally, if all else fails, just tread very carefully. Make references to the stag do but keep them vague in a way the audience can get.
For example, references to how drunk your groom was are totally fine. Another example could be how terrible his dancing was and how the audience is going to be seeing it on the dance floor later. These are vague but not ‘inside’ references you can use.
I hope you enjoyed this article and it helps you along the way.
Not making mistakes is actually one of the most important things you can do with your best man speech.
Most people want to be memorable but end up being memorable for the wrong reasons. Don’t go over the top with your speech, avoid the 10 mistakes above and you won’t end up with this problem.
At Unique Best Man Speeches for years we’ve been helping best men prepare for one of the biggest speeches of their lives. We like to think we know best man speeches better than anyone on the planet.
If you’re struggling with your best man speech, worried about embarrassing yourself or simply don’t know what you’re supposed to say check out our free Best Man Speech guide and learn the 3 Secrets To A Top Best Man Speech.