The third and final speech of my wedding speeches series is perhaps the trickiest of all. To be both funny and entertaining; to embarrass the groom, but not ‘cross the line’; to compliment the bride then finally finish by saying something heartfelt; all in order to hopefully set the right tone for the rest of night… So how do you give a best man’s speech?
The truth is this was easily the hardest speech I’ve ever written (I should say co-wrote as I was joint best man with another close friend – shout out to James Beacher – although he tweaked the words I initially wrote to suit himself (I’m sure he won’t mind me taking the credit…)). I suggest you start by searching a few other examples online for inspiration. For us we broke the speech down into a few sections with James providing the introduction and myself finishing. In between we told a few short stories and talked about Alex’s character traits which served to provide a number of running jokes, whilst also playing off each other’s banter. Overall we felt the format worked very well. Anyway the best man’s speech is usually very personal – based on the relationship you had with the groom – so I’m not sure how much this will help those seeking inspiration, but here it is… (It’s self evident but the bold is James’ words and the normal font my own).
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. For those of you fortunate enough not to have met us yet, my name is James and this slightly special looking individual is Dave. No we are not a comedy act, despite our appearances, but in fact Al’s joint best men!!! Yes, I know, we were also wondering why it needed two of us, but then realised Al has made a habit of stitching Dave and I up over the years. Hence why, despite the nerves, we have been looking forward to today so we can have some payback. (Rub hands with glee).
Anyway, before we get into the customary bashing of the groom, we would like to begin by thanking you all for coming this weekend and helping to make Al and Heather’s wedding such a memorable occasion. A big thank you in particular to Al’s parents, Margaret and Tony, for raising such a fine son… in Ollie. A special thanks too, to the very beautiful Heather who I’m sure you all agree looks stunning today. Thanks also to Gap Kids for providing Al with a suit to fit his 12 year old frame.
I will now pass you over to Dave at this point, with apologies in advance for his slurring… he’s flying the plane back from Bari to Gatwick tomorrow, and is trying to drink as much of the bar before his legal cut off.
Thanks James and good evening everyone and please don’t worry. The alcohol helps – like getting married… or driving! Anyway it’s with great honour that James and I stand here today and raise a glass to an extraordinary person and true friend. In particular for taking it upon herself to rescue Alex. Really thank you Heather for marrying Al and best of luck… You’ll need it.
Now, when Al asked James and I to be his best men it’s fair to say neither one of us gave it any thought. Since yesterday however, when we first got together, James and I have taken it very seriously. The first question we asked ourselves was why Al chose the two of us? Aside from the obvious attempt to see us fail, we can only assume we were his best choice. We’re not entirely sure what this says about the quality of his friends but I will credit Al this. He clearly has exceptional taste… I’m talking about Heather of course and myself. Not James. Joking aside for a second, it’s an absolute honour Al and we can only thank you for choosing us to be the makers of your downfall this evening.
So how do we know the groom? Well we first met 14 years ago at school after Al was mysteriously rejected from his previous one. It’s fair to say first impressions weren’t great with Al thinking I was a miserable bastard and me thinking Al was, well, a bit slow. Given the pace of his conversation… it’s amazing how accurate first impressions can be! Anyway only a short while later the three of us found ourselves in the pub and after a few beers were thick as thieves.
To this day it’s safe to say, none of us have really grown up. Now I’d love to tell you all a number of embarrassing stories about Al but frustratingly we could think of very little to embarrass him with. So we thought we’d take a slightly different approach this evening and focus on his character traits.
So how would we describe the groom? Having asked several people this question – well okay, only James – three overriding characteristics became clear.
The first is how laid back Al is. This becomes quite obvious when one takes the time to talk to Al. Indeed you’ll need time as it typically takes him an hour to articulate a single sentence.
Of course his laid back nature isn’t only evident when he opens his month. During our gap year Al thought it would be a reasonable idea to gain some work experience as a teacher in Hong Kong with James and I. After one failed job interview, Al knew he had tried his best, so chose an early retirement and to focus his energies on pissing off James instead. To be fair he did complete several of James’ PlayStation games so all was not completely wasted.
The second perhaps less obvious character trait of Al, is how caring and thoughtful he is… Well, of himself at least. On one particularly memorable skiing holiday in Switzerland, it was Al and Dave who patiently tried to teach me to snowboard for about 100 yards down what we all assumed was a gentle green run. When we got to the first ridge line however it became quite apparent this was anything but. With no option but to press on Al said good luck, had a little chuckle, then shot off down the hill leaving me stranded as I tried not to kill anyone.
The third and perhaps most obvious character trait of Al’s is his confidence. I think this was perhaps best demonstrated during his stag weekend last month in which – after one too many tequilas – we all got to see and different side of Al, a very narrow side. This was certainly a first for the majority of us in attendance,and hopefully the last, as I for one have been having nightmares ever since. One can only guess as to what Al was referring to when calling himself narrow.
Of course Al is a great deal more than a laid back chap with certain narrow qualities and it would be rude not mention some of his finer points. Before we do however, James and I feel that with a lengthy 3 years of marriage between us, we should offer the two of you some advice. Given that Al would never listen to any advice from us this will mainly be aimed at you Heather.
Firstly, and this goes without saying, babies are expected within the first year. Given Al’s laid back nature and certain narrow qualities I’d start sooner rather later. James and I also have a bet on as to when exactly this might happen so time is of the essence. I also know neither of you will want to raise your child in a world where James is right.
You can ignore what Dave just said. Second, to be clear Heather, you are always right and Alex, you’re always wrong. However to save you the time of getting sucked into a painfully long argument given how slowly Al speaks we recommend you simply nod your head and say yes, then do whatever you like. I’m sure your already well versed in this.
Third and specifically for Al there are five very important words that can get you out of any situation: I’m sorry, it’s my fault.
Thanks James. Think we nailed that. I guess all that’s left is also the hardest part of the speech – which is perhaps why James left it to me – to say something kind about the groom… plus James being the baby he is, would probably start crying.
The truth is, it’s not hard at all. Al you really are a true friend. One that, once you’re done laughing, will ultimately have your back. You’ve looked after James and I on countless occasions and we can’t thank you enough. It’s an absolute honour for us to stand here today and raise a glass to you. It would be easy to make some comment about Heather being too good for you (because she is). But in all honesty I think you’re both exceptionally lucky and I know I speak for everyone here in saying you complement one another so beautifully. I can’t think of two more deserving people. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’d please join James and I and raise a glass to the bride and the groom, to Heather and Alex. Thank you.
Some final thoughts:
Giving speeches or public speaking in general is no easy task – something that makes most tremble at the thought. I’m afraid I can’t give you much advice on dealing with nerves however, I will use the cliche, “practice makes perfect.” I reread and rewrote my speeches several times – tweaking it almost daily – in order to make sure the words I had written sounded just right. There’s no point trying to copy anyone else either. You simply won’t be able to do them the same justice. Of this I’m sure. Still inspiration is the start of everything in life and I hope I can provide at least that by posting the speeches I wrote (and co-wrote in the case of this best-mans speech). Thanks again for reading.