Adrian Simpson | best manx speech writer

How To Write Wedding Speeches

Wedding Speeches – two little words, that actually cause an awful lot of frustration, trauma, and pressure for those involved. If you think that that’s an overstatement, I talk to people every single week of the year who have to make a wedding speech, and whose lives have been completely destroyed by it. Over 75% of us fear public speaking more than death, and that doesn’t factor in the added dilemma of public speaking and being funny at the same time, so it’s no wonder many people would rather juggle with sharpened throwing axes.

 

So, it’s time to rationalise that fear, understand it, and do something about it, and without sounding too obvious the problems all stem from the content. The reason you’re not looking forward to standing up and speaking is that you feel whatever you’re about to say simply is good enough; nobody will laugh, nobody will be interested. And chances are, if you’re feeling that way, you’re probably right.

All wedding speeches thrive on the same basic things: lack detail, humour, and length. If you get all those three elements right, then you will have success. You will stand up ready to make your speech knowing that the content, balance and timing are all spot on, and victory will be yours.

DETAIL

This is something that many many wedding speeches get wrong, and is is the single biggest contributing factor to wholesale guest boredom. Do not be tempted to go into any detail whatsoever.

If you’re a groom we don’t need a real time account of how you met your wife, best men avoid granular description of incidents, and fathers of the bride don’t give us every single qualification your daughter has notched up. The aim of a good wedding speech is to demand as little from the listener as possible, and nothing turns them off quicker tun having to sit through boring detail, when really you should be making them laugh.

Wedding speeches are an entertaining overview, not a job application.

 

HUMOUR

Every speech in the world works better for having humour in it, and wedding speeches are no exception, but there does have to be some careful consideration. Humour is never scripted jokes that have nothing to do with the people involved, it’s not one liners you’ve grabbed from internet sites, and it’s certainly not anything that is edgy and borderline obscene. Humour in wedding speeches is warm, inclusive, and genuinely very funny.

Being funny, if it doesn’t come naturally, is a hard won skill, but like most things in life requires time and practice. The real humour can be found in observations around people, what they do, what they like and how they act…it just takes time to think of the best way to describe things so that people will laugh.

LENGTH

The length of wedding speeches is absolutely critical, and something which most speaker get catastrophically wrong. A great speech should never go over ten minutes, if you’re talking beyond that point, you’ll be talking to yourself as the majority of the guests will be tweeting selfies to people they hardly know.

Guests have an attention limit and ten minutes is where it’s at – so many guys I speak to want to shoe horn in more, but it’s really counterproductive, and grooms are the most guilty of this. Do not think for one minute that everyone loves you so much they really want to hear exactly how you met each of the ushers, it’s simply not the case. Less is more. However, if you’re talking for less than 3 minutes, it could take some explaining  afterwards.

 

So, if you can get the three magic ingredients right for your wedding speech, then I can guarantee it will be a winner. Treat all wedding speeches as a good dollop of entertainment and not an opportunity to lecture and people to death, and you’ll be on the right tracks. And if you read it out and aren’t tempted to laugh at least once…then keep working on it. For more tips and hints on the comedy visit the Best Man speech Jokes page.

Best Man Speech Brother

As a Best Man Speech Writer I have a gifted insight in to how grooms operate the world over. I know that the Empire State building is pretty much de rigeur when it comes to proposals, I know that well over 85% of my clients still ask for permission to marry from the father and I know that from the minute the button is pressed the girls take over and you become a passenger on a rather fast, furious and pricey roller coaster ride.

So, pretty much all the groom has to do is choose a best man and organise the cars, except when I say choose…it’s very much one of those situations where there IS a loaded revolver to your head and it WILL go off should you make the wrong decision. There are expectations from your wife to be and your family. One doesn’t want you to ruin everything by choosing the close friend she’s never liked with the potty mouth and drink issues, and the other wants you to choose your brother. So you choose your brother.

This of course keeps both parties happy but doesn’t necessarily make anything easier for you, as most brothers won’t have lived or indeed socialised together for many years by the time the wedding comes around. In fact the only really good stories he has about you are over 25 years old and he really hasn’t got know your girlfriend yet as he lives in Australia. This is a very familiar scenario for me when I’m writing best man speeches. Over 70% of the best man speeches I write are for brothers and they do bring about their unique issues – mainly that they know very little about the groom’s real life after the age of 18.

This is not as worrying as it might first seem because I never really use anecdotes anyway as they’re boring, exclusive and not usually that funny, so you’re forced to think of things in a different, more inclusive and hopefully funnier way. Actually this is how every best man speech should be written – forget the anecdotes and tell a story instead. We don’t care about EXACTLY what happened in his life to date, I want daftness, I want fun and I really don’t care about detail. So don’t worry about not having any information on your brother past the point of puberty – it doesn’t matter.

Instead think about what his dreams were, think about what kind of character he used to be growing up and think how you can use that in a funny way. What were his hobbies, passions and disasters? Put your thinking cap on and make that funny. A good best man speech for a brother should be written in exactly the same way as that for any other best man – with warmth, intelligence and a great dollop of imagination.

 

A Best Man stand before the top table and delivers his speech

Why using props in a Best Man Speech is the worst idea you’re ever going to have

Last night I watched the visual smorgasbord which is The Eurovision Song Contest. It is a bonkers but nonetheless thoroughly entertaining romp around Europe and for some reason Australia, and it proved that in a super groovy high tech digital age, there are some people who are still more than happy to make a bit of a tit of themselves, and for that I love them. Quite why the Italian chap and the dancing gorilla didn’t smash their way to the number spot is completely unfathomable, and then there was a the Austrian guy, for some reason called Nathan Trent, who was swinging about on a moon, but if there was any justice in the world the Romanian yodelling/hip hop crossover should  have elevated the artists to multi millionaires overnight. But their genius was also their undoing.

As Nathan was cuddling his moon most people around the world were looking at the moon and not him. Men were thinking ‘what kind of poundage is the support cable good for?’ and women were Googling if IKEA sold one of those massive moons as it would look  great by the breakfast bar. But nobody was looking at him. The Italian could have been singing out his supermarket shopping list, because when you’re on stage with a dancing gorilla nobody is paying the blindest bit of notice to anything else. And the yodelling and rapping was great right up until the point two massive cannons came into the scene and the rapper just stood on one of them waving like a lunatic. Why were they there? How heavy were they? Do they still fire? Do you need a firearms license for a cannon? Can you still buy ammunition for them?…these were all the things going through my mind…not the song.

And so that brings me to weddings. Picture the scene: you’re incredibly hungover wearing a tailed coat that is single handedly helping to raise your core temperature to inferno level, sucking the last moisture out of your body. Your head is pounding and things like breathing and raising your eyebrows are unbelievably painful, all compounded by severe exhaustion thanks to finally getting to bed just before 6am. It’s now 3pm and you’re frantically trying to make a cable that clearly doesn’t fit your laptop…fit your laptop. Sweat is dripping off your brow and your girlfriend who is among the 100 or so wedding guests hates you and is planning to make this your last public event together.

People are chatting amongst themselves, when finally some bright spark with an iPhone bounces it on to the screen, except the bluetooth connection is shaky, but you plough on anyhow. Luckily this is only the beginning of your troubles because the guys behind the pillar can’t see the screen, and the ones over there can’t see it because there’s too much sun. You then pull out the teddy bear he used to have when he was 4 but absolutely nobody can see that because the teddy is around 10cm tall. And then you go for broke by bringing on one of the stag party modeling the gimp suit the groom wore all weekend. He just stands there. You say ‘this is the gimp suit the groom wore on the stag weekend’. He just stands there.

Props are hideously difficult to pull off. Everybody has got to be able to see them, and that never happens. Technology has got to run smoothly…and that never happens. Power supplies, wifi signals, cables and fading batteries are just some of the things that can hamper progress, but there’s a much more basic reason why you should make your day as simple as possible and avoid them at all costs: and that’s because if you have props, not a single person will be looking at you, or listening to you, which is precisely the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

Best Men have a hectic enough time without loading themselves up with even more hassle. There’s no replacement for a really funny, well written speech. So my advice is to keep it simple, keep all eyes on you, and instead of walking around with a bundle of cables and a remote control, have a nice glass of champagne and relax.

A Really Good Example of a Really Bad Speech

That Pippa Middleton Best Man Speech

Some people aren’t funny, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re happy to admit it, and find another way to fit in socially. But then you get some men, usually Alpha Males with a triathlon habit and lots of charity event challenge T shirts in their wardrobe, who are so unbelievably supersonically thick and conceited, they just don’t realise they have all the comic sensibilities of a Stasi punishment block guard.

Here I’ve given my thoughts on just where he went wrong with his Best Man Speech.

‘Thank you to you all from being here today, some having travelled as both families have roots in Yorkshire, so I will say this: “Hear all, eat all, drink all and let your hair down”. Thank you to all the the flower girls and page boys, who have helped make today so special. They have had a very long day.

He’s meant to introduce himself. It might come as a huge surprise to him but unless he’s made a complete tit of himself at the church, not everyone knows who he is. Do not thank anyone for coming or being there or mention flower girls or page boys or any of that nonsense. By this point in the proceedings the guests have been thanked and welcomed a million times…yet another welcome could see more senior members reach inside their smoking jacket for their service revolver, and the find the nearest study. 

‘Firstly, some messages from those who couldn’t be here today. “Wish Pippa the best with the hair. We have really enjoyed seeing you and how you have mastered interpretive dance. Don’t forget to buttock clench on the star jumps.” That’s from Steve and the gang at the Crazy Feet dance studio in Soho.

I never go with fake telegrams and messages because they are just never funny enough…at least he didn’t ‘receive’ one from the ‘Ping Pong’ Strip Club in Bangkok. Hilarious. Not. 

‘Ladies and gentlemen, as I just said, I have the great honour of being James’ best man.

‘I have to say that James has made it a remarkably easy job since he has been here. He has been totally calm throughout.

Ok, he’s now been talking for around a minute and hasn’t said anything remotely funny, this is far too long for a Best Man to keep the guests waiting. The longer they wait the harder it is to land that gag..and I don’t know, call me mad, but I just don’t think this bloke has got it in him. 

‘Other than having to having to carry all of his baggage, the hard part was to keep the rings safe. James doesn’t ok now this but I have a habit of losing things. Not often, but they are usually quite expensive.

‘So I resolved to keep them on my person the entire time that they were in my custody.

‘We both got up for a run early this morning and James jokingly asked if the rings were on my person.

‘I had them in a shower cap tucked in my shorts. He said “really, in a shower cap? I don’t want that in my head when I am putting the ring on Pippa’s finger in the church.”

‘I’m sure it wasn’t on your mind in the church, but it was on your mind now, sorry Pippa.

If anyone can tell me how this is supposed to be funny, I would be really interested. Actually if anyone could tell me what it means, that would be even better. At best it’s completely unfathomable.  He’s now been rambling on towards the 2 minute mark, has said nothing about the groom whatsoever. 

‘I’m not married. But I took a girl home, my mother didn’t like her. Took another girl home and my mother still didn’t like her.

‘So I went out and picked a girl that looked like my mother, took her home, and my father didn’t like her.

A completely unrelated scripted gag from the internet. It has nothing to do with the bride and groom and is pretty clumsy, but yet again its biggest problem is that it’s criminally unfunny. If he’s still single I can only think it’s because his modus operandi is to ‘laugh girls into bed’…it could be done but it’s going to be like Leicester City winning the league and winning the Lottery all on the same day. 

‘James and I met 10-years-ago. Since then he did enough long distance together that we probably shouldn’t have any cartilage left in our knees. 

Oh, you high adrenaline guys…no really a little more about me and my Pepsi Max lifestyle…

‘While success on the track did not translate to the road, where James was involved in a police chase on his moped as a teenager.

What? This is a statement of fact that is meant as a joke. Where’s the punchline…hang on a minute where’s the funny bit?

‘But I have it on good authority that James is gullible. Early in his career, while racing for motorsport, James was asked to get some items from another racing team.

‘So James promptly asked a competitor’s engineers if he could please have some tartan paint. He then asked for sparks said for spark plugs and elbow grease.

I first heard crap like this as an 8 year old working with my dad. This guy wouldn’t know a joke if it came up and puked all over him. We are now half way through the speech and he’s said nothing meaningful and nothing funny. This is unparalleled.

‘After Formula 3, James pursued a career in the world of finance joining his brother at Lloyds. Once again his gullibility was tested after his team sent him to a bar in Soho to get the drinks then, since was full of people not of James’ sexual persuasion, decided not to go at all.

‘After a few admiring glances James, realising he had been had, and was about to be, turned on his heels and ran.

What I want to know is: when he read any of this out at home, especially that bit above, did he really think anyone would laugh? Has this freak been living in North Korea where laughing out loud is banned or is he on some course of mind bending drugs that prevent him from seeing that he lives in a humour vacuum and makes up for it by going for long runs in aid of charity. 

‘There was a time when both James and I were single. We took ourselves off on a boys’ weekend. I proclaimed to James that I was going to try it on with anything that moves.

‘I said to James, “what are you going to do?” He said: “Stand very still.”

Where do you start? Crass, dreadful rubbish which by now we’ve come to understand is this guy’s thing. Imagine if he came to stay for the weekend…’no, no guys don’t go to bed…I’ve got another real thigh slapper for you…’

‘Now to the love of James’ life: beautiful, energetic, loyal, soft-mouthed, comes on command, great behind. But that is enough about Jame’s spaniel, Rafa, I’m here to talk about James’ love, Pippa.

I think we’re covering old ground here with this guy…I mean, I would be slightly shocked if he actually came out with something funny but it’s way beyond his skillset. I tell you what: don’t compare the bride to a dog…just a thought. 

‘As James said, they met in Scotland in 2009 and a friendship blossomed.

‘They have a deep and instinctive love for each other.

‘I think I can say for everyone, that you look stunning. The image of perfection. I know that James first fell in love with your gutsiness and your spirit and then succumbed to your beauty. You make James extremely happy.

You have a voir la joie that warms the hearts of everyone who knows you and you have won the heart of the best man that I know.

I bet at this point he’s not thinking you’re not the man he’s knows…

‘With the wedding shadowed in secrecy, I can reveal, and wish the bride and groom a happy honeymoon in North Wales.

‘At least that’s where I presume they are going as I heard Spencer saying that after the wedding, he [James] was going to Bangor for two weeks. Enjoy the Welsh coast, guys.

Boom boom! Get it Bangor…Bang Her…Yeah? I have to give credit to this guy he saved the most unfunny, uncomfortable and genuinely shit gag until the very end. Unbelievably he’s not managed to say a single thing about the groom…mainly because he’s been too busy destroying his life. 

‘Now for the moment that we have all been waiting for – take it away Fred and Ginger.’ 

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The microphone awaits the groom and his speech

Practicing Your Wedding Speech

There is a stat out there somewhere that states we are all much more afraid of public speaking than the prospect of death itself, and you can sort of see why. No one knows for certain what happens when the lights go out for the last time, but we’re all pretty sure it’s preferable to standing up, feeling every drop of moisture instantly leave your mouth, and then trying to crack jokes whilst fending off some kind of bowel related public disgrace. Yes, content is king but practicing your wedding speech is what makes a great speech a truly amazing one.

When it comes to practicing for the big day, you firstly have to be honest about type of person you are. If you’re a naturally super confident, articulate and positive character, then trying to learn the speech and nail it without notes on the day, is a possibility but you have to give yourself time. The best way to go about this is actually not to set out to learn it at all. All you need to do is keep reading it at every opportunity you have, and before you know it all those words will have cemented in your head. Then once you have the words to each paragraph licked just work out a way to remember how the end of one paragraph links to the following one – some people use prompt cards, others can find a way to remember without prompts. If you set out to learn it parrot fashion it will be by far the quickest and most efficient way to get yourself sectioned…and the wedding really wouldn’t be the same without you. The danger of this approach is that all your focus will be spent on remembering the words and consequently the performance will suffer, so don’t forget to practice making it sound entertaining – that means pauses and intonation.

Personally, I would avoid the modern temptation to read your speech from your iPhone. Every day we have the things glued to our face and if you want to look like you really don’t care, then please go right ahead. That also applies to auto cues on iPads. I used these as a television presenter for many years and unless you’ve got hours of practice under your belt they suck the life out of a performance, simply because you’re not focussed on the audience.

If you’re less confident about speaking in front of people then there is nothing at all wrong with reading the speech out from sheets of paper, however, there are some key issues you need to be aware of. Firstly head down and buried in bundle of papers might be a great way for you to hide whilst making the speech but it will undoubtedly render there whole event a miserable and joyless experience for all concerned. You must maintain as much  eye contact as possible, and read it as slowly and purposefully as possible. If you follow the temptation to rattle through nobody will understand a word you’re saying, and you may as well be reading out the menu. And lastly, have something to rest your papers on – you’ll be pumped up and those papers will be shaking like a leaf so you’ll need to mask that with a folder or a book. Keep reading it through so that there will be now words that will trip you up on the day..and remember to look happy!

View of the best man making a speech at a wedding reception

Talk About Being Best Man

Probably the most cliched and pointless of all the well trodden ways of attacking a Best man’s Speech is to spend a huge chunk of the speech talking about being the best man. For me this is about as close as it gets to admitting you simply couldn’t be bothered to really think about the best man’s speech and just decided to go for filler instead of killer. If at this point you’re thinking ‘well all the templates I’ve seen online talk about being best man!’…yes they do. They also have some of the worst one liners, jokes, conceits and layout of any speeches known to man.

The basic idea of a best man’s speech is to talk about the groom, not about you. It is after all his big day not yours, and your job is to celebrate him and his new wife, be as funny as you can and chuck in some genuinely heartfelt sentiment. You’ve only got a maximum of ten minutes to get the job done and wasting time going through the various ins and outs of best man duty is about as counterproductive as it is funny. The worst part of all is that anything you’re likely to say on this subject has undoubtedly been lifted from a template and heard a million times before. And it wasn’t that funny the first time around.

This whole approach stems from some best men approaching this speech as if they’re a budding stand up comedian. Stand up comedians talk about themselves constantly because that’s their way of introducing seemingly real and funny observations about the world. They want to project a humorous take on something by using themselves and that’s fair enough. Best men are not stand up comedians, some might think they are and you can usually tell them by the over zealous rapport they try to build with the audience. Yes, you should engage, excite and at times communicate with your audience but in a warm, gentle and sincere way; not mic in hand firing off one liners and waiting for the applause. Anyway you have a ready made source of material that needs no introduction: the groom.

If you’re talking about yourself then you’ve run out of ideas. If you’ve run out of ideas then you’re not thinking hard enough. If you really want to kick things off in style then a good place to start is by visiting the Best Man Speech Opening Lines page and discover other ways to achieve victory.

 

Writing Best Man Speech example

Best Man Speech Outline

Many people have issues with writing the Best Man Speech, and for good reason – to do it well takes, skill, practice and a good helping of wit. It’s little wonder that it can prove a real headache for those ‘lucky’ enough to be made best man. As I’ve said many times in posts, and pages on this site, your best friend is time, and now we find ourselves at the beginning of the year you’ll probably have at least 4 months before the fear and panic of the final countdown to D-Day. So, with that in mind, and if you’re planning on writing it yourself, you’re firstly considering the initial outline of the speech.

The problem with thinking of a best man speech outline is that you need to understand what kind of speech you want form the very beginning. If you’re thinning about going down the tried and tested ‘a couple of stories, a bit about the bride and marriage advice’ route, then you really don’t have to think about the speech until the night before, because no matter who much thought you put into that little lot, it will be an unmitigated failure.

A really great Best Man Speech needs to be considered as a whole and not as series of component parts. When I’m devising a plan for a speech, and all my speeches are created uniquely, I begin to think about how to bring all the elements of who this guy is and what he’s about into one central theme, and then build the speech around that. You need to have a beginning and an end, but you shouldn’t have any other boxes to tick. At the same time I want to know a little about the groom, but not so much I could write a book about him. So, any traits or facts need to be conveyed in the most succinct and funny way possible. And that’s the key to a successful Best Man Speech: succinct funniness.

So, stop thinking of the speech as a well trodden pathway form beginning to end, instead when you’re thinking about the best man speech outline, simply think about the outline of the groom and use that as your guide. Once you know what you want to highlight, then weave a pathway through his characteristics and stories, using a minimalistic approach. A quick and easy way to map out a structure is to look for some well prepared templates, but be warned: some are better than others.

 

This is an opportunity to have fun and entertain, it’s not a sales pitch, so forget the best man speech outline, and just tell a bloody good story.

 

One basic ingredient to all great best man speeches- great socks and great preparation.

Brave Not Edgy – A Great Best Man Speech

I write wedding speeches for all types of people all over thew world and if you forget for a minute the difference in social and cultural references, there is one thing that all great best man speeches should have in common: they are funny. And this is precisely what this Arsenal fan has achieved – being genuinely funny in a warm, inclusive way. It was a brave route to go down because these things can be hard to judge, but crucially his humour wasn’t edgy or crass, it was just very cheeky. And there’s a huge difference.

Being funny is not easy, I spend a lot of time analysing why something very simply can be hilarious, and why switching just one word can change something from being reasonably funny into a real thigh slapper. However, it is the comedy which is usually the undoing of so many best man speeches. Most men have only really experienced being funny with their friends at work or in the pub – tight knit groups, comfortable with each other and their humorous sensibilities. So, what then happens is that your average best man writes his speech as if he’s talking to his friends in the pub…and this is a huge mistake.

What is funny with three friends of similar age and background, rarely translates to a wider audience of mixed tastes, and to make matters worse what you find funny aged 30 in the club is usually not something you could share with your granny. But despite all of this, best men consistently write their speeches pitched exclusively at their friends and cannot see why taking the guests through ex girlfriends or real time accounts of the stag do just won’t work. The reason is simple: it’s not funny.

Being unfunny in a wedding speech is a tragic waste of life, but being so edgy and inappropriate that all the guests collectively cringe and shrink into tiny balls, should in my opinion result in some form of custodial punishment. Now is not the time to embarrass, humiliate or insult. It’s time to make a speech that everyone will enjoy hearing and you’ll enjoy giving, and this Arsenal fan has got it completely right. It’s well judged, well executed and above all genuinely funny.

Wedding Speeches

Practicing Your Best Man Speech

There is no getting away from the fact that practice makes perfect. The more familiar you become with the words, the easier it is to read vast swathes without looking at a prompt card, the pauses are all worked out in your head and you’re comfortable with exactly the right pace of delivery. There’s no substitute for all of this hard work and your performance will be all the richer for it…up to a point.

I lose track, and to a certain extent lose patience, with people who say they’ve read it out to their wives and they either didn’t laugh or didn’t get it. So, using this spectacularly unqualified focus group of one, the whole thing has to be rejigged. There is a  huge, and I mean HUGE, difference between practicing it in front of your wife/girlfriend/whatever, on a rainy night after work and the atmosphere of the wedding cauldron. At a wedding everyone is revved up and ready to go, primed with a bit of bubbly they’re hanging on to your every word and just need the slightest excuse to make them laugh. Reading it out to your partner in a much colder, more remote atmosphere is setting yourself up for a fail.

It’s also saying that your humour, your cultural and social references are inadequate compared to those of your girlfriend’s. Have confidence in what you first thought of as funny and go with it. There’s a good rule of thumb which I always remind my clients of: if it makes you laugh the first time then that’s exactly what’s going to happen on the day. Over analysis of jokes, conceits and observations is completely counterproductive and all you’re doing is allowing multiple sets of unqualified opinion tell you what is and isn’t funny.

But it doesn’t stop there because you’ll make amendments and then obviously go back to the same person to see what they think at which point they’ll see themselves as some sort of burgeoning critical talent and then by default have to indicate where it could be improved further. A complete waste of time.

Practicing your Best Man Speech should be a personal, solitary and rewarding experience, where on the day you alone reap the accolades. So take it from me: believe in yourself, because nobody is a better judge of what you should and can say.

 

 

Writing and planning a best man speech format is a lot m,ore straightforward than you think

Best Man Speech Formats

Usually one of the biggest problems with writing a best man speech is that you’ve got all the information but don’t have a clue how to stitch it all together. Working out how to use all the stories, character traits, funny observations and anything else you’ve compiled, takes a lot of thinking about because you need this to be something that people want to listen to and will entertain them. So it’s either a case of heavily editing what you’ve got or stretching it to fit the allotted time, so the best man speech format you might think, is critical.

The trick to sketching out a best man speech format is to look at it in a completely new way – forget everything you know, or think you know about wedding speeches. A great best man speech is neither an exercise in public humiliation, or a real time waltz through several stories that required being there in order for them to work. This is by far and away where most best men go catastrophically wrong. The usual format is to string together 3 stories which aren’t particularly funny, and sandwich them between a hackneyed introduction and a cliched ending…and nothing could be more boring or difficult to land. Stories require a killer punchline – which most don’t have – and when the first one doesn’t work, getting through the remaining two could prove to be the longest 7 minutes of your life. So the most important thing when planning the format is to forget stories and instead use what they contain in a much more effective and condensed way.

Instead view the whole speech as a story and take the audience from a well thought out beginning to a meaningful and powerful ending. This might seem counterintuitive to begin with but when deciding how to write a speech the only people you need to have in mind are your audience: what will they want to hear? How will they want to be entertained? What is their comedy threshold? etc etc. And the bottom line is the guests just want to laugh. They’ve sat through the emotional and very often completely inexplicable father of the bride speech, they’ve endured a 45 minute groom speech, their new shoes are now really hurting, their ties feel like tourniquets and they just want to start enjoying themselves, and that’s where you step in. Take them on one large comedic look at the groom, having fun with him, not at him, and celebrate his frailties and shortcomings in the most inclusive and entertaining way.

 

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So when I’m drawing up the format I first look at what the groom was like when he was younger, – be it teenager, toddler or just starting work, and then try to map out his journey from that point to the current day groom. This gives you the basis of the one big story approach and from this you can plug all the holes in that story with nuggets from anecdotes, well crafted witty observations, or if you’re really struggling, a little bit of fantasy. Yes, that’s right, fantasy. You’re there to make the guests laugh, sure you’re going to say some lovely things about towards the end of the speech but if putting in some little falsehoods like he wanted to be a spaceman and applied to the Didcot Space Center, only to discover there wasn’t one…tickles guests, then just do it.

So the best format is to decide at which point you’re going to pick up the groom’s life and then trace a pathway to the time when he met his lovely wife. The key to making all this stick together is daft comedy, don’t rely on internet jokes, or grubby one liners, you need t make everyone laugh and so that means coming up with funny things in and around the groom’s character. Explain how he went from being that slightly chubby, ginger kid with a thing about Thomas The Tank Engine to the urbane, metropolitan sophisticate who enjoys pilates. What was in his character as a 5 year old, that catapulted him to where he now finds himself? This should also allow you to bring in all those stories in condensed form, so instead of recounting how he walked around with a traffic cone on his head, simply drop it in to the speech as: ‘he planned to become the first international astronaut who’d been cautioned by police for wearing a traffic cone in the small hours of Saturday evening’. That way you’re stripping out the dull detail of the story but still letting everyone know what he did in a much more succinct and funnier way.

So, at the beginning introduce yourself, it will settle you down and allow you to build a rapport with the guests. Then set the scene at your starting point and begin. With this method, you’re not restricted to viewing the best man speech as having a rigid format, in fact you’re doing your very best to get away from that. This will allow you to be much more creative and give you huge scope to paper of cracks such as lack of material or dodgy parts of his life you’d rather leave out. The only other thing to remember is forget all the marital advice, bridesmaids and talking about being the best man – that is all very dull and part of the old school format that we’re trying to get away from. Nothing is more pointless or conceited in a best man speech than the best man talking about himself when the subject is the groom. This usually stems form having nothing to say, but with my story format that shouldn’t be an issue.

Towards the end you should talk about the happy couple but don;t budget for going into too much detail about how they met, as the groom will probably have just covered that in his preceding speech – apart from Australia where he’ll follow you – and the last thing you want to do in tread on his toes, or even worse repeat parts of his speech.

So the first rule of best man speech format…is that there is no best man speech format. Treat it as one big story, and an open canvas will present itself and all you have to do is fill in the blanks whilst making them as funny as possible. Stick to around 1300 words and this will give you a talking time of around 7-8 minutes which will help you ensure complete victory on the day.

 

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