Concluding my trilogy on wedding speeches, I’d like to focus on the Best Man’s speech.
The Best Man may have had little to do, as far as the wedding itself has been concerned – possibly, as little as handing over the rings when requested; he may, however, have been involved at every stage along the way, welcoming guests, keeping the groom happy and informed, dealing with any hitches, liaising with the wedding planner and/or venue and even organising the order of photographs. Either way, his spotlight moment is yet to come.
He has been chosen to be Best Man (normally) because he is the groom’s best friend. He may not know the bride at all well, but he certainly knows the groom. What he is expected to do at the reception, in summary, is to deliver an entertaining speech which will reveal the groom’s character, often by means of anecdote.
One thing the Best Man wants to do is to set the tone for the proceedings – hence, the need for a light, humorous discourse. There may be no need to tell jokes, especially if that doesn’t come naturally, but a well-crafted anecdote or two can work wonders (and embarrass the groom beautifully!).
Five to ten minutes will normally be adequate. The speech should probably contain something nice about the bride (possibly implying that the groom is incredibly lucky to have made such a catch). Otherwise, it should cover a few (preferably funny) stories about the groom and his youthful escapades. It doesn’t go amiss to mention a few of his better qualities too.
- The Best Man may have worked hard and may well be thirsty. He may well be nervous at the prospect of speechifying (most of us are). But, however tempting it may be, the Best Man should not allow alcohol to get the better of him. (Once he has done his duties, he can let himself go as he pleases, but definitely not yet!)
- The guests are not at this wedding specifically because the Best Man will be delivering a speech. Therefore, brevity is better than meandering, and self-indulgence will not be appreciated.
- Don’t be too cruel. The groom is entitled to to enjoy his big day and you want your friendship to survive!
- If the audience is not engaged, the speech risks falling flat. As half the guests may be unfamiliar with the groom, long tales featuring numerous named cronies will not be inclusive, and may turn listeners off.
- Avoid bad language, religion and politics – and, especially, insulting the bride’s family.
- Don’t mumble or look down too much (see my previous blog https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/?p=1785 ).
Briefly, clearly, fluently, poke some affectionate fun at the groom; keep the tone light; include the guests as much as possible (through eye contact and suitable content). In a disciplined way, make sure you enjoy yourself – and the rest of the room will be enjoying themselves too.
Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.