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Public Speaking
Wedding Speeches
This Paper’s Contents:

PAPER FIVE : Wedding Speeches - Continued

6. A Health Warning for the Best Man

The Best Man’s speech, I have observed over the years, has the potential for being the low spot of the wedding. I do realise that this may vary according to what particular cultures think funny, but I think a health warning is not inappropriate in these days.

Everybody loves the Groom and are rooting for him, but the highlight of the speeches, I believe after witnessing many weddings, is that of the Best Man.  Sorry guys – no pressure!

The Best Man is traditionally the best and longest standing friend of the Groom. On one or two occasions I have witnessed the Best Man doing his best to make the Groom look stupid, foolish and certainly embarrassed as he tells tales of the Groom’s past. In some quarters there almost seems a tradition of seeing how bad you can make the Groom feel.

Now stop and think about this. Everyone may keep a smile on their face (what else do you do) but behind the smiles there are deep down a whole range of things being thought:
Groom – “You rat! Call yourself a friend.”
Bride – “I hate you, that’s my husband you’re saying that about!”
Bride’s Father – “I’ll get you! That’s my son-in-law you’re demeaning and that means you’re demeaning my whole family as well!”
Crowd – “What a rat bag! Get off!”

I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it, and I’ve watched the faces. Yes, as I’ve said, I’ve seen the smiles and I’ve seen the laughter, but I’ve also heard the comments later on.  I’m not being a killjoy but, Best Man, if you do that to your friend, you’re the one who ends up looking bad! Outwardly they may think it is funny but inwardly they certainly wouldn’t want you to be their friend – and as for best friend!!!!!!

Not only that, it is lazy. It means the Best Man has not bothered to think what he could be achieving. My own best man was excellent and we all went away feeling really good, which is very different from the wedding where there are afterwards lowered voices and whispered wonderings well out of the hearing of the Bride and Groom.

Does it do the new relationship any good to tell tales of previous relationships that both previously had, that had eventually gone sour?

The ‘higher calling’ on the Best Man is to show a close friendship with the Groom whereby, yes, they got into messes together as kids, but actually the Bridegroom is really getting a good guy now. The Bride feels good, the Bridegroom feels good and the parents feel good, the people see it and appreciate and feel good and, ultimately, it flows back to the Best Man and he feels good!

Humour is good and it’s OK to reveal the Groom’s foibles in a light hearted way, but that is very different from humour that totally exposes him and makes him appear an idiot in public. It is a sad thing that these things need saying.

7. The Best Man’s Role

(Yes, this goes beyond speech making but it supports what I have just been saying) The primary role of the Best Man, I believe, is to make sure everything is running smoothly, and everything is going well.  You have to be quite an up-front person to do that well, because it may mean chasing the little bridesmaids to come in, chasing the bridal party to come for the line up, chase the crowd to take their places at the tables, chase the caterers if tables are getting missed or drink is running out, ensuring presents are put in a safe place and safely taken away afterwards and that the parents on both sides feel confident with all he is doing on their behalf.

All of these things say that, in many ways, apart from the Bride and Groom, the Best Man is the most important person there, and he has the capability of making it a really great time as he quietly and surreptitiously gets on with his role. Being confronted by all these things, you may decide you never want to ever be a Best Man, but if you say that, you throw away the opportunity to help make a whole lot of people feel good. That is your challenge.

8. And to Conclude

If you want to be casual about it, that’s fine, but if you do, you miss an opportunity to create a really great day that will be talked about for years afterwards.

Yes, it takes an effort to do a decent speech as any one of the men mentioned, but if you do, afterwards you’ll feel good and others will feel good about you, and everyone will agree it was a really great and memorable occasion.

We haven’t said anything about the practicalities of what you say and how you say it, if you are one of those three men, but it is worth doing what we suggested on the page about giving a Simple Speech:

An Approach you could try:
-  Jot down headings
-  Put some brief notes with each of those headings on another sheet of paper.
-  Do a practice run out loud using the notes and see how long it takes.
-  Now do the practice run with only the headings.

A little bit of practice WILL pay dividends and the end result WILL be great. Go for it!

Have a great day!