The Best Man’s Speech: Does Length Matter?

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Many best men begin their address by saying that a best man’s speech should last as long as the groom will make love for on his wedding night. At this point he raises his glass in a toast and sits down. It’s not a very good or original line but it does raise the question that every best man asks: how long should the speech be?

Photo credit: Alamy

Photo credit: Alamy


As best man, you know the groom better than almost anyone. You no doubt have dozens of hilarious stories to tell. You could fill 25-30 minutes easily. You’re only going to make this speech once, so why not really push the boat out? No one will begrudge you your half an hour in the spotlight, right?


Wrong. They will.


While the guests might feel short changed if your speech merely consists of mumbled congratulations and a toast, remember the general rule: Less is More.


Your best man’s speech is how long?


A great best man’s speech will be between five and ten minutes. Most speeches end up taking longer than expected so I recommend you aim for five minutes. It will probably end up being closer to seven or eight minutes, which is the perfect length.


As Stephen Fry reminded award winners in his open monologue at the Baftas a few years ago, “No one ever goes home from an awards ceremony and complains that the acceptance speeches were not long enough.” The same is true of wedding speeches. The best man’s speech is almost always the last of the day. This means that there will probably have already been at least two speeches, and it’s just your speech standing between the audience and the free bar. Your speech should be the talking point in the bar, not be the reason they are delayed in getting there.

Stephen Fry at the Baftas.

Stephen Fry’s sage advice for best men Photo credit: Rex

Good, so we have addressed the issue of how long you will speak for. Now for the much more important questions: what are you going to say? And how are you going to say it?


The next steps


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