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Best man speech – lost in translation

The world has always been a big place, and ever since time began we’ve wandered far and wide trying to find that special someone…or at the very least, someone who seems a lot more interesting and attractive than the girl in Boots. Maybe it’s the budget airline industry, maybe it’s the connectivity of this digital age, but more and more of us are finding partners from countries and cultures that are so different from our own. And long may that continue.

There is something so intoxicating about being immersed in a world that bears no resemblance to your own…world’s where the cultural reference points are weapons grade cheese and local moonshine that’s the same distillate as rocket fuel. Why, settle for a future of Sainsbury’s and casual pub violence on a Friday night, when you could stroll by the Adriatic in shorts in November, meet grown men for ice creams on a Sunday, and have your salami sliced by a supermodel? Yes, from Eastern Europe to New Zealand, the lives we can only dream about are really ours for the taking, but what happens when you do meet the girl of your dreams in somewhere like Kyrgyzstan?

Well, what usually happens if you’re British, is that you rely heavily on the girl being not only able to speak English, but also happy to see you not make the slightest effort to learn her language for the rest of your days together. I have many friends who have partners from Holland, Italy, Spain, France, India and Russia, and not one of them can speak a bean of their partner’s language after a couple of decades together.

So, if that works for her, then the next stage is meeting her parents who don’t speak English, so you then develop a long term relationship which usually revolves around a lot of pointing whilst doing a lot of drinking. If this all goes to plan, the next stage is to get married, which invariably takes place in your wife-to-be’s home town, and so that throws up the question of speeches. Every country around the world tackles this slightly differently – some don’t have them, others are more of an elongated toast, some are all about the funny, and others are really not. However, whatever happens, every other country seems to be only too aware of the British tradition of wedding speeches, and are only too happy to witness this first hand….up to a point.

In order to make this a success, you need to follow some fairly simple rules.

  1. Do not, whatever you do attempt a running translation of your best man speech into your wife’s mother tongue. It will bloat the speech to epic proportions, become increasingly tedious, and neither the British contingent, or your new Polish friends, will like you by the end of it.
  2. Always make the speech in English – you’ve got to cater for the people who get this kind of speech, otherwise you’ll be in danger of nobody getting it.
  3. Keep it short. If you’re making this in English, then there’s going to be a fairly sizeable number of guests that are going to be twiddling their thumbs whilst you rattle on. My advice would be to stick to the 5 minute mark, and make every word count. If it looks like baggage or filler, remove it.
  4. Always have a couple of lines aimed directly towards the host nationality at the very start, and a couple at the end. Try to deliver it in their language and let them know in a funny way that if they can bear with you for 5 minutes, then all this will be over, and hopefully the marriage will still be intact.

If you stick to those simple rules, then your best man speech in Madrid, Kiev, Warsaw or Split will be a resounding success, you’ll probably find yourself incredibly popular with local girls, start dating one, and this process can begin all over again…repeat to fade.

Written By
Adrian Simpson
3 Mar, 2021

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