Your best friend has just decided to ask you to be his best MAN. What an honour, what a privilege, but what does it actually involve? Organising a big drunken party, to celebrate his loss of freedom, comedically pretending to forget the ring at the ceremony? Maybe trying to convince the maid of honour it’s part of her job to sleep with the best man? Then of course giving the best man’s speech gently roasting the bride and groom and giving all the guests a well-deserved laugh.
Actually these days most couples have been engaged for years and marriage is more an enjoyable break in between weekend trips to IKEA. Freedom was surrendered maybe a decade ago. The stag night, is more likely to be an ironically named “shag night” compromising of stags, hens, a booking at Ask Pizza and half a dozen novelty penis-shaped straws. The maid of honour is most likely your wife which if anything makes her even less likely to sleep with the best man. In fact most weddings seem to be between couples on their third or fourth time “lucky”. First marriages, like learning to use the potty, appear increasingly to be lost in the dark lands of yesterday.
So the one immutable fact task rfor the best man remains giving the best man’s speech. As the other functions of the best man have decayed and fallen away over time this one has taken on growing importance. You will stand before an audience of a couple of hundred inebriated guests, most of whom don’t know each other and probably don’t like each other. Those that are related or married to each other know they dislike each other. You hold a couple of crumpled sheets of A4 in your hand as you prepare to speak. You realise you’re actually the most, ancient, the most primal part of the whole ceremony. You are the human sacrifice. You knew the happy couple were vegetarians so you wondered what was going on that giant wicker man shaped bbq, which seemed a bit much for some halloumi and tofu kebabs.
Unless of course you hired a speechwriter. Then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Unless you are an experienced public speaker, stand-up comedian or terrifying mafia crime lord the best wedding speech is 3 minutes or 360 words long approximately. Even Tony Soprano would have to get his gun if he went over 10. So when I tell people I’m a wedding speech writer and emphasise the brevity of a good wedding speech, followed by the cost, it sounds like a bit of a steal. But what it misses out is that in speech writing the biggest trick isn’t what you write, it’s what you remove.
In one case, having written an effusive wedding speech for a son whose dad was getting remarried, he returned my first draft with the comments,
“Nobody likes her. She’s a drunk and has caused nothing but fights. We all think he’s an idiot and making the worst decision in his life. If I say anything as sweet as that, everybody will beat me up.”
“I wish the happy couple, all the joy and laughter in the world, we wish them all the best,”
“I wish them both all the happiness they DESERVE.”
But don’t worry you’ll probably be fine, keep it short follow an online template and write a couple of gags that will make people think affectionately about the happy couple. But if you are still not sure, feel free to drop me a line.