Follow these five tips to really wow the wedding crowd
Ah, the best man’s speech. Nail it, and you’re a hero for the rest of the weekend. Pats on the back and warm handshakes from everyone aged eight to 88. Tank, and you’re left with the sort of soul-scraping nightmare that scars your very essence for the rest of your days. So, you know… no pressure.
The key, ultimately, is getting the balance right. You don’t want to be the roastmaster general and have the groom crying tears of shame as you relive every amorous encounter of his life. Nor do you want to be too saccharine; folks want at least some jokes. This isn’t the sad bit of a vintage episode of Surprise Surprise.
And so we present our top five tips for truly nailing the best man’s speech.
1. Pretend you’re Sean Connery. OK, what we don’t mean is James Bond. We don’t want you suspiciously staring people down because you suspect they’re working for SPECTRE. Rather, we’re referring to the underrated 2000 Gus Van Sant drama Finding Forrester, in which Sean Connery’s reclusive literary genius says: ‘You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think.’ This, ultimately, is the golden tip. If you’re re-reading what you’ve written and your Spidey-sense (aka crippling neurosis) is saying ‘I might want to take this down a notch’, then you should do just that. Similarly, if it feels unfunny, add some jokes. And, to bring it back to Sean, if your speech clocks in at (double-O) seven minutes, that’s pretty much perfect.
2. Practice makes perfect. Once you’re happy with your magnum opus, read it out loud again and again beforehand in front of anyone – girlfriends, boyfriends, mums, dads, random passersby. Also, video yourself on your phone and watch it back. This will help with your body language and confidence. Even if you’re not enjoying it, don’t underestimate the power of faking it. Run through the material until you feel confident in what you’ve written. Trust us: when your favourite stand-up comedians are saying ‘a funny thing happened to me today…’, they’re fibbing. It’s most likely the 200th time they’ve told that story. Bonus tip – remember to end each story with a funny bit. That’s the punchline and you’re not giving a TED Talk (unless the groom is called Edward and then, technically, you very much are).
3. Take it easy. There is always the temptation to go too close to the bone. Please, no matter how tempting, just don’t do it. I attended one wedding where the best man went in so hard on the groom that, if it was a two-footed tackle, even a young Graeme Souness would have blanched. Things got so bad, in fact – and this is a thing that actually happened at someone’s wedding – that the father of the bride had to get up, mid-speech, and remove the mic from the best man’s hands. No, thank you.
4. Ask around. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for any nuggets of gold. What’s more, it will also jog your own memory. And it means you’ll have bits, jokes and routines for pretty much everyone at the wedding, rather than stories solely for the five people who are in the same running club as the groom. You’re playing to the crowd, not the clique. If you think a story might pop thanks to a prop, then go for it (but be practical – if you’re convinced an anecdote would benefit from having, say, a 1983 Ford Cortina in the room, think again). Want an extra tip? Maybe use chronology as the arc for your speech: start with stories from the groom’s youth before bringing it to the present day. That way, as they say on televised talent contests, there’s a “journey”.
5. End on a high. Once you’ve cracked your jokes and told your stories, do not be afraid to change gears with the heart-warming stuff. You say why the groom is a great man (but not the “best” man – remember, that’s you) and why you’re so happy your friend has found love. Then say some nice bits about the bride and the bridesmaids and you’re home and dry, baby! Also, cheeky bonus tip, ask everyone to be upstanding as they give that closing toast, because then you’ve technically ended with a standing ovation. You’re welcome.
What to wear
Now that you’re on your way to writing a stellar speech, your outfit is next on the agenda. Don’t worry, we’ve got just the look for you.