When it comes to being a brilliant modern best man, John Bowden knows what he's talking about. He's been there, done it and got a crate of tee shirts. He has also written several books on weddings and speechmaking and is a member of the Comedy Writers' Association.
Finally, it’s time to put it all together by taking a look at some full length speeches. While you may decide to adapt, personalise, and possibly combine what you consider to be the best bits, the main reason for including them in this final chapter is to remind you of the style and tone you should adopt throughout your speech. Your address should be emotional and optimistic, yet enlivened throughout with humour. It should also be short.
Each of the speeches that follow should take no more than five minutes to deliver. Don’t make the same mistake as the bridegroom who didn’t have a stop button. He burbled on and on, oblivious to his increasingly restless audience. Finally, one of the more drunken guests hurled an empty champagne bottle at him. It missed, and hit his bride instead. As the bride slid slowly down the wall to the floor clutching her head, she was heard to mumur, ‘Hit me again, hit me again ... I can still hear him.’
On the big day, don’t hit the bottle, or you may have a limp excuse that night for not rising to the occasion ... But equally, don’t risk the bottle hitting you, by rabbiting on and on at the reception!
Sample Speech 1
Reverend Green, Ladies and Gentlemen – Friends, we are told that marriage is a lottery. Well if it is, then I have hit the jackpot. Quite simply, I am the luckiest man in the world to have a wife like Karen and and to have friends like you to join us on this, our happiest day – happiest day so far that is. Most couples describe their wedding day as the happiest day of their lives. That worries me because it implies that as from tomorrow there’s a lifelong decline ahead. That will not be the case with us. Karen, in the words of your favourite Carpenters’ song, ‘We’ve only just begun’. I love you more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow. Our love will continue to grow ... and grow!
You know, I’ve been lucky in so many ways. Lucky in having the best parents in the world. Parents who knew that the most important thing they could do for their children was to love each other. Lucky in my new parents-in-law. What a horrible expression that is – parents-in-law. Let’s call them parents-by-marriage. Roy, on behalf of my wife and I, thank you for those kind words, and thanks to you and June for giving us such a lovely wedding and reception, and, even more, for producing a daughter like Karen.
And I really must thank you all for your presence – in both senses of the word. Karen and I are delighted that you all managed to come to our wedding and to have received all those generous gifts. I cannot begin to tell you how much they mean to us. But, once we’ve returned from the honeymoon, I’ll see the guy at the pawn shop, and then I’ll have a far better idea.
But let’s face it, Karen is a very lucky lady, too. No, I don’t mean because she married me, although I suppose she could have done worse. No, I mean because today she also gained two wonderful parents-by-marriage.
Thanks must also go to Ryan for being such an efficient best man. Although I’m not sure how thankful to be because I haven’t heard his speech yet. As many of you know, before Ryan joined us at Sun Hill, he was a community cop at West Huntspill. It was early one morning when he received a phone call from an elderly man. ‘I can’t sleep for the noise,’ he complained. ‘What’s causing it? Do you want me to make an arrest or seize their music equipment?’ Ryan asked. ‘I’m not sure. It’s two cats mating on the wall outside my house. They’re making a hideous racket with all their love-making and things.’ ‘Cats!’ exclaimed Ryan. ‘Why don’t you walk up to the cats, give one of them a sharp prod and tell them that he is wanted on the phone?’ ‘Will that stop them?’ the man asked. ‘Well, it certainly stopped me,’ Ryan replied bitterly ... Ryan, thank you so much for doing the business for me so well today. No one could hope for a better best man than you!
Now Karen, you thought you knew all the ‘thank you’s’ that would be in my speech. Well there’s one you didn’t know about. I thank you for becoming my lovely bride. You can’t help being lovely ... but you could help becoming my bride. Today, I married my best friend – the lady I laugh with, live for and dream with. Karen, in the words of Robert Browning: ‘Grow old with me, the best is yet to be!’
Finally, our thanks must go to the delightful young ladies who have done such a great job in helping Karen up the aisle – although I hope she came to the church of her own free will. They have been wonderful and added so much to the occasion. So please join me in drinking a toast to Petunia, Iris, Primrose and Rose. Ladies and Gentlemen, the bridesmaids!
Sample Speech 2
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. First the bad news – after writing and re-writing, editing and re-editing, the very shortest I could make this speech is one hour and eighteen minutes. That was the bad news ... now for the good news – I was lying about the bad news.
So here we are ... we’ve done it... we’ve tied the knot! And, quite simply, I’m the happiest man in the world. My wife and I are delighted that you could all make it to our wedding today. Thank you, James, for those wise words. As they say, better late than never. You see, we needed a few saucepans and a new toaster and as Argos was closed ... I do not deserve the good things you said of me, but I shall try so hard to deserve them and be worthy of Sarah.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few other thank-yous, too. I can’t imagine a happier way to start married life than with our family and friends around us. So thank you all for being here. Whether you travelled two miles or two thousand – as Doug and Patsy did – you are all so very welcome. It wouldn’t be the same without you. And thank you for all your generous gifts. I know Sarah will find the lawn mower and electric drill particularly useful, and I will certainly make good use of the garden hammock and the deck chairs.
I am also delighted to have James and Joyce as my new in-laws. When I asked James for Sarah’s hand in marriage, he said to me, ‘Mark, do you think you’re earning enough money to support a family?’ I said I thought I did. And James replied, ‘Think very carefully now, lad. After all, there are six of us!’ Only joking, James. I want you to know that I really do feel one of the family now.
They say a girl grows up to be like her mother. Well, I can only hope it’s true. James, Joyce, you produced a beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny, caring ... Sorry, Sarah, I can’t read your writing. What does this say, love? No, Sarah is beautiful and intelligent. I’ll leave everyone here to decide which trait comes from which parent. And I never thought I could be as happy as I am today without City winning the Premiership. Sarah, I love you so much:
When I asked Sarah to marry me, I knew I would need a best man, and there was no doubt who that would be ... our tax-collecting friend, Ian. Despite his job, Ian really is almost human. In fact, I’ll share a little secret with you ... he’s a bit of a hero, on the quiet.
I hope I won’t embarrass him by telling you all, but last summer a frantic-looking woman came rushing out of her house into the street, near Ian’s office, and cried: ‘Help! Help! My son has swallowed a coin and is choking. I don’t know what to do!’ People in the street all looked the other way, except one ... Ian. Ian rushed into the woman’s house, found her young son, turned him upside down and shook him violently until the coin fell out of his mouth. ‘Oh, thank you!’ cried the woman in happiness. ‘Are you a doctor?’ ‘No, love,’ Ian replied, ‘I’m with the Inland Revenue.’
I’ve almost finished, because this suit has to be back at Moss Bros in twenty minutes. So finally, I’d like to recite two other short poems, which, I believe, express the sometimes different, yet essentially complimentary views and attitudes of the two genders towards love, marriage and life. I hope, like me, you will find them uplifting, as they encapsulate the importance and true meaning of institution of marriage, and illustrate the respective priorities of the two genders. First an ode entitled Moods of a Woman:
And now a short poem entitled Moods of a Man:
Now it’s time for another toast – any excuse for a drink. It’s my final duty – no, pleasure, to thank the bridesmaids for helping Sarah up the aisle today. They all did their jobs magnificently. Please stand, raise your glasses and drink a toast to the bridesmaids ...
Sample Speech 3
Someone once said that a good speech has both a good beginning and a good ending. A great speech, however, keeps both of these very close together. I can’t promise you a great speech, but I intend to make it a short one, because of my throat... if I go on too long, Jayne has threatened to cut it!
I just want to thank Bill for those kind words. It’s amazing what people will say when they‘re not under oath. No, I appreciate everything you have said and I promise I will take good care of Jayne. Think of it this way, Bill: you‘re not losing a daughter ... you‘re gaining a bathroom.
On behalf of Jayne and myself, I’d also like to thank everyone for joining us here today and for being so generous with your gifts. With all those saucepans and toasters, looks like we’re going to have to get used to plenty of boiled toast.
I’m also delighted to have Angela and Bill as my second set of parents. I knew we’d hit it off when I fell in love with Jayne because they have helped her to become the lady she is – like me, fond of real ale and swimming. I learned to swim at a very early age. When I was three, my parents used to row me out to sea in a little boat until they got about a mile from the shore – then I had to swim back. I quite liked the swim – it was getting out of the bag that was difficult.
Just joking, Mum and Dad, although I have given you plenty of good reasons over the years for doing that. I’d really like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to you both. You should receive a medal for endurance. You loved and supported me through every stage of my life, including my Bart Simpson years, that seemed to have extend well into my 20’s. Jayne may argue that they are by no means over yet. Mum and Dad, thanks for your contribution to today’s festivities and for teaching me the difference between right and wrong, so I know which I’m enjoying at any particular time.
I hear that Dad gave Jayne a receipt this afternoon. It reads: ‘Delivered, one son as promised, sold as seen, no refunds under any circumstances. We’ve redecorated the room and changed the locks, so you‘re stuck with him. Dehydrates easily, top up with beer regularly.’
Now for the emotional bit. Emotional and 100% genuine. Jayne, I love you. Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world. Someone once said, ‘When you love someone, everything is clear – where to go, what to do – it all takes care of itself, and you don’t have to ask anyone about anything.’ That’s exactly how I feel here today. When I asked a few of you earlier what Jayne looked like today, you all told me she looked wonderful, but this didn’t prepare me for the sight I got when I turned round in the church to see her myself. You look gorgeous, darling. Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up. Today I grew up.
And what about my dashing best man? You did a great job today. Thank you, Greg, for being the perfect best man. But where’s your duck today? Is it with you? ... Greg has a pet duck and he usually takes it with him everywhere he goes. Last week he was most upset because, although he bought two tickets, the duck was refused admission to the theatre. So he decided to stuff the duck down his trousers and pretend to be a little overweight. The ruse worked, and Greg got in to see the show. Everything went well until the intermission when the duck got very hot and poked his beak out of Greg’s trousers, through his flies. Two old ladies were sitting next to him and one nudged the other and whispered, ‘Look at this.’ The other lady said, ‘I can’t stop looking at it ... it’s eating my ice cream!’ Ladies, Greg is looking a little overweight again today, so I’d be very careful if you find yourself sitting next to him.
Finally, my wife and I would like to say a special thanks to the charming bridesmaids, Charlotte, Emily and Ann. They have been wonderful. In fact, I think we should drink a toast to them, don’t you?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the bridesmaids!