A decade ago you could wing it. You could Google some gags and expect granny hadn’t heard them before. You could roll out the Powerpoint and embarrass the groom with some childhood photos and guests would think you’d made an effort.
These days, not so much. The best man speech is still the most eagerly awaited but they’re often meet with good-natured groans rather than genuine laughter. They’ve become a caricature, with the traditional characteristics exaggerated to grotesque effect.
Seriously, that line about the honeymoon and the groom ‘going to Bagnor for two weeks’. Or the ‘humorous’ fake telegram from the football team saying they found the groom useless in most positions but wish the bride good luck. Cringe.
Cheesy gags and meaningless one-liners is not what a best man speech is meant to be. So here’s Speechy’s guide to writing a speech fit for a wedding in 2018. Take note comrade.
If you can take your jokes and use them in a speech about another groom, then you’re doing something wrong. Yes, we’ll allow you a few one-liners to break the ice but other than that, you’re on your own.
Certainly take inspiration from other best man speeches, but only the good ones. Check out how others have taken the personality of their mate and used that as the basis of their humour. As Homer Simpson so sagely says ‘It’s funny because it’s true’.
Start thinking about the things that make the groom unique. Everyone’s a nut-job, so what are the traits that his friends and family will recognise as truly ‘him’.
Ask yourself lots of questions – what’s his worst habit (wearing skinny jeans), what’s his guilty pleasure (Dire Straits), what might he love more than his bride (Abduls kebabs). You get the idea. Once you have good content to play with, the comedy should flow.
Don’t be scared to take the mick, it’s how British blokes show we care. Do, however, be scared of mentioning exes, stag do tales, in jokes and anything crude (innuendo’s fine, dirty isn’t). Also don’t tell any stories that might mean your mate needs to apologise to his wife.
Find a Theme
This is how your speech goes into the Premier League. Rather than just a trail of anecdotes, think of a way to theme your speech and tie everything together. This way you’ll capture the audience and no one will be checking their Whatsapp under the table.
So how do you think of your theme? Think about the groom’s personality traits. For example…
- Is he a pseudo-intellectual? Use quotes from great thinkers throughout history to contrast with your mate.
- Is he a bit of a geezer? Present the bride with an insider’s guide to understanding how his bloke-brain works.
- Is he a football fan? Give a post-match analysis on his courtship with the bride and predict how well he’ll score as a husband
The theme doesn’t need to be overly clever to work.
Prove, Don't Tell
Cut the clichés that most best men fall victim to. When it comes to ‘the nice bit’, rather than use adjectives, make sure you provide the evidence.
Don’t just say ‘he’s been there for you’, explain that he picked you up from the Hogs Head at 2am when every taxi refused to take you home. Tell everyone how he helped you get to grips with pensions and confess that you still owe him fifty quid. Highlight the real reasons he’s a top bloke and your speech will sound refreshing.
Big Up The Bride
In 2018 the bride needs to be more than an afterthought and you need to say more than she’s ‘made your mate happy’ and ‘looks beautiful today’. If you don’t know her well, then make an effort to do some digging. Find out about her and reflect that in your tribute to her.
Don’t feel you need to be overly gushing or pretend she’s a perfect princess. A good tribute can still be affectionately humorous. It should reflect the sort of girl she is – even if it is a feisty Pinot-fiend with an adult-addiction to Monster Munch!
Don’t bother. Most props just feel tired these days. Write a good speech and you won’t need them.
(Though one bit of kit you might need is a microphone. Check the groom has hired one if the acoustics of the venue require it. So many speeches are ruined simply because people can’t heard them).
It’s a total cop out from a delivery point of view but if you’ve got the skills and resources to invest in creating a cool video, then we’re all for it. Reconstruct moments from your past exploits together, visit the seminal locations from your teenage years, interview past teachers or ‘witnesses’ to bad behaviour.
There’s lots of good best man videos online but remember, like the traditional speech, less is often more. Even with a kickass soundtrack, you still want a duration well under ten minutes (though, in reality, that would take A LOT of filming!).