The Best Man’s speech should always be last. This may sound peculiar, but chances are that you might only know half of the people in the room. It’s important to make some reference to who you are. You could make this humorous: “For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mark and I was the one who pulled the head off John’s action man and replaced it with my sister’s Barbie’s.” Or, “I first met John (bridegroom) when he stole my gym kit in 1982.”
You may be asked to read out some telegrams or good wishes from people who weren’t able to come to the wedding but try to keep this to a minimum, as a long list of messages can be a bit tedious. Your speech is widely anticipated and obviously you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Then again, it’s important not to say anything to offend. No one will thank you for it, especially if it’s the only permanent blemish etched into the otherwise idyllic wedding video. So how do you strike that balance?
It is possible to tell funny stories about the groom without having to resort to lewd or distasteful jokes. Avoid the following at all costs: mentioning the previous partners of either the bride or the groom. Don’t tell stories or jokes that only a few people will be able to relate to or ‘get.’ Lastly, make sure you don’t give yourself too much Dutch courage. Although you might think it will relax you beforehand, loosening your inhibitions too much before your speech can result in humiliation for both you and others.
Often, the best man chooses a chronological format for the speech. It’s a matter of personal taste whether you interweave the serious parts of the speech with the funny parts. There are a few formalities: you should mention that you are delighted to see so many friends and family members in attendance on the couple’s wedding day and, on behalf of all the guests, thank the hosts for a wonderful reception. You could then describe how you met the groom, and perhaps tell a humorous story about your friendship. If the previous speeches have taken a long time and the audience is looking a little restless, it can be quite effective to involve them.
“After the first time I met John he started hanging around, phoning me, just being a general pain in the neck. We all know that type don’t we? I mean who hasn’t got one of those in their lives? Show of hands? Ah, for those of you who didn’t put your hand up – I’ve got news for you – it’s because that person is YOU.”
You could then talk about the groom’s life, from early years (depending on how long you’ve known him, you might need some fuel from his family for this bit), then onto school, university, his career, hobbies, his home. It’s all right to mention alcohol, but don’t litter your speech with multiple references to the groom’s drinking habits as it sounds inelegant.
“I remember one night, he got really drunk. Someone shaved his eyebrows off while he was asleep. He was really shocked when he woke up, although you couldn’t tell.”
Err on the side of caution, and don’t mention specific girls:
“John used to brag that he could have any woman he pleased, the problem was he never pleased any.” This brings you neatly onto their relationship. You can mention how good they are together, their happiness and perhaps a humorous remark about how she’s changed him and his life for the better.
“I can’t believe that John is now spoken for (gestures to Sarah- the Bride) literally.”
You could then go on to thank him for his friendship and for asking you to be his best man. If you are single, you could say:
“Before I finish, I’ve actually got a confession to make. The real reason I agreed to be John’s best man is because I heard that women find public speaking attractive. So if it’s worked on any of you ladies I’m in room 24.”
You can then raise a toast to the happy couple.
Usually the best man is the last speaker, so he is the one who directs the guests as to what will happen next. If it’s merely to continue with the reception, he can simply thank the guests for their attention and ask them to carry on enjoying themselves.
A Sample Speech for the Best Man
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve promised not to humiliate John today – in fact, Sarah has given me a list of things I’m not allowed to mention. So Sarah, I’m true to my word, I promise not to mention the stag night, the underwear, the drinking bucket or the turnip.
It’s lovely to see so many of you here today, and on behalf of all the guests I’d like to thank Richard and Anna (parents of the bride) for a fantastic day. There are a few people who weren’t able to be here, and I’d like to read a couple of them out if I may.
(Read the telegrams/messages.)
For those of you who don’t know me, John and I met while we were graduate trainees. He used to sneak off to the kitchen to have a crafty fag, and he’d usually catch me there eating all the biscuits. John’s since stopped smoking, mainly because someone told him that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray. To all the singletons here, that’s worth knowing if you’re ever feeling a bit lonely.
I’m as surprised as anyone to see John getting married – he was never much good with the ladies so it was a real relief when Sarah came along. Marriage, as we all know, is a sacred institution. Two people, joined in matrimony, come together to face the problems life throws at them. The trouble is, most of the time they are problems they didn’t have before they got married.
Seriously though, Sarah’s a lovely lady and it’s down to her and her mother Anna’s efforts that today’s been such a success. Imagine if John had been left in charge of organising his own wedding; nothing would be colour-coordinated; the bridesmaids would be dressed as cheerleaders; Sarah would have had to wait until the end of the football season to get married; we’d all be eating pizza and drinking beer; and a large, slobbery dog would probably qualify for the role of best man – not much difference there then.
John, it was an honour to be asked to be your best man, and I wish you and Sarah good health, luck and happiness in your future lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please raise your glasses in a toast to the happy couple, Sarah and John.
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Article Added on Monday, March 12, 2012
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