Back in November 2016 I took on the most esteemed role of best man for a dear friend of mine I had known since school. I reluctantly accepted his offer that he sprung upon me one afternoon in the kitchen while drinking herbal tea. I wasn’t hesitant because I didn’t want to do it but more because I didn’t want to botch it up for him and his wife to be. This thought was constantly on my mind running up to the big day! There is a certain responsibility that comes with this position and speech writing aside, for someone with a bit of anxiety hovering over their head, there is an awful lot to consider. But this post isn’t about coping with all that, it’s about what I did to make a room of people listen to me for 5 minutes and make at least a couple of them laugh in the process, with something I wrote about two people in love. If you want to Know more about the obligations of a best man, just Google it, there are countless sites that will put your mind at ease.
I hadn’t practised my public speaking for a long time at that point and to be honest that was the biggest thing I was worried about. Writing the speech however, was a real delight. I’d given myself a week to write it and actually took a week off work to sit down and do it properly. It was also one week exactly before the wedding so I was highly motivated to say the least!
I remember thinking back to when I wrote my dissertation for the final year of my degree and how I cut it close back then too. It’s a good idea to give yourself ample time to put the words to paper but leaving it so close to the deadline did have its advantages. It gives you the opportunity to be as current as possible, especially where jokes are concerned. More people will be able to relate to what you are saying if part of what you are saying is in the limelight. If you can tailor your humour around subjects of public attention, this will help you command the room because the material is relatable. If you write it too early there is a chance you’ll have to rethink your approach when the content becomes unconnected.
On the subject of humour, you’ll want to leave the bride out of this one. Everyone who ever written and performed a traditional best man’s speech will probably advise that the bride is strictly off limits and under no circumstances will she be the butt of any jokes! The groom however, will never stand a chance. You’ll want him to fear you the moment you’re handed the microphone. Personal stories of a comical nature are best suited here and no doubt the stag do/bachelor party will summon some inspiration depending on when that happens. I had plenty of material to play around with but it’s really your decision to decide what you include here. A little self-deprecation goes a long way too.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
If you’ve got children present, which is most definitely the case, you’ll likely want to reel in the profanities a tad. You don’t want to scar them for life or have them badger mum and dad about strange things the man in the suit said about their uncle or whatever. Navigate the room, try to discover who will be attending. If you’re fortunate enough to meet the family and friends of both parties beforehand, either in life or at perhaps at the engagement party, then you’ll gage more the appropriateness of the speech. I made a joke about the reliability of a certain public transport service in the UK that almost everybody found funny, only later to learn three people including the Master of Ceremonies and the groom’s late father used to and presently work for the firm. Be that as it may, I interpreted it as a win.
Be thankful, appreciate everyone there but also those who couldn’t be. This is particularly important for the bridesmaids traditionally but really anyone who makes the day special for the Mr and Mrs in question. Think of people close to them other than yourself and give them their dues. Offering respect to others is always nice, and who knows, you might get some back in return.
End on a high! This is the last thing they will remember! Not the champagne flute you raise for the final toast but the last sentence you spring from your gob. It can be funny, it can be heartfelt or maybe even a little sad, just make it relevant and make it strong.
This might all be terrible advice to give enlisted best men around the world but it worked for me… just about. Have a read of my speech and judge for yourself.
Ladies and gentlemen… Good afternoon. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Alex the Best Man.
Before I begin my speech, I just wanted to say a few words about the day that this wedding shares. I’m of course talking about Armistice Day, a day to commemorate peace and remember those who had given their lives for it. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remember James’ Dad, who as you know is no longer with us, but nonetheless witnessed the affection between James and Sarah when it was simply blossoming.
And so, I ask you kindly to join me in a moments silence, to remember a real character, who would love to have been here today.
(PAUSE FOR A MOMENTS SILENCE)
I’ve never been Best Man before and quite frankly I don’t mind telling you how terrified I’ve been about this speech. So please bear with me.
James has already mentioned the lovely bridesmaids and flower girls, but I thought I’d give you all a special mention too, so well-done Ladies. And Sarah, I’m not freighted to admit that I almost lost it seeing you walk the isle earlier… You look stunning!
And to all you lads who helped me sort out the Stag Do, I couldn’t have done it alone so thanks for that too. We truly left our mark on London that evening… Or at least James did. All over the floor.
I mean a heavy dose of Wheat Beer, Bratwurst Sausage and sauerkraut was enough to blow your mind, let alone your stomach!
I’ve had the great pleasure of tolerating James now for over 15 years, and I think like me, he’s quite a reserved chap, which has only made the mandatory character assassination all the more difficult. I must say though, that grey suit is a refreshing change of pace compared with the worn-out Metallica T-shirts he normally wares. And it’s nice to see you’ve combed your hair today too mate which makes a change.
I remember when James and Sarah first met back in our college days. Later going on their first “casual” date to the cinema. And like something out of a movie, they found themselves standing side by side, on a station platform in Stains, waiting for the last train home. The carriage pulls up and James stands, awkwardly looking back into the eyes of his crush. This is the longest departure of his life. The doors open up behind him and all of a sudden time stood still. He couldn’t wait any longer, he had to make it all official. He had to give her a kiss.
That’s right guys, there was a time when South Western Railway were good for something.
The truth is, it’s difficult to find a fault in James. He’s considerate, he’s smart, he’s well organised, and for the most part, he’s got a good sense of humour. But he definitely doesn’t wear the trousers.
Which leads me to my next point…
Now, we as a nation have had a rich history of strong and inspirational women. And little did she know, Sarah became one of them, when she proposed to James. If you ask me, a practice that isn’t done often enough by women. So, I’d watch out boys!
You may have already heard how this chapter of their lives played out, but I leave you with my own take on the story… Here goes.
After several months of subliminal messaging and dropping hints of marriage, Sarah had grown tired of James and his obliviousness. Evidently, she couldn’t wait a single day longer. And so, followed the night of the big question.
Sarah had just got home from a vigorous jogging session. She’s energetic, she’s confident, she’s ready! Meanwhile James is preparing dinner in kitchen and all seems normal in the household.
Later that evening, the two lovers sit together watching the TV, but Sarah’s mind is focused only on the prize. The time to act is now she thought. And in a reckless attempt she reaches for the remote and turns off the TV. “James, I need to ask you something” she says. At this point James is completely dumbstruck, and all sorts of wild scenarios race though his head.
Sarah takes a deep breath. And just like on their first date, time once again stood still. She asked him “Will you marry me?”.
To which James replied “If I say yes… will you put Game of Thrones back on?”
(RAISE THE GLASS WITHOUT DROPPING IT)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I for one could not be happier that these two delightful people are finally married, so if you would stand with me and raise your glasses high!
To Mr and Mrs H!