I’d never been a best man before, and to be quite honest I was somewhat apprehensive about the role. I knew I had to organize the stag party (mission accomplished), get the groom to the wedding, look after the rings, and deliver a speech that would make people laugh at the oddly named ‘wedding breakfast.’ Aside of that I had no real idea what on earth a best man was supposed to do, and this being my first time in that role I was acutely aware of the fact that whatever I had to do I needed to get it right! Of course, you’ll have to ask Phil, the groom, but I don’t mind saying that I think I did a good job on the day, and if I didn’t then everyone was having so much fun they didn’t notice.

Now I’m aware that there will be guys who will find there way to this blog post while they’re researching their own role as best man at a forthcoming wedding. To them I’ll say this, you might want to skip a lot of this post, but scroll down and look for the sub-title ‘best man speech.’ I’ll do my best to give you some advice, but at the time of writing this I’ve only done it once, so I’m no expert, but maybe I’ll be able to help.

DELIGHTED

I was really pleased that Phil asked me to be his best man. We’ve known one another for something like 13 years or so. I knew Philly back in the days when he still had a full head of hair! Being Phil’s best man was, I suspect, not as challenging as it might have been because Philly is without contest the most laid-back person I know. I’d never once seen him even slightly ruffled about anything, and if one required evidence of this they need only sit behind him in a car to see that he has the drivers seat cranked so far back he is almost laying down!

When Phil and Kerry-anne told me they were getting married I was delighted for them, and delighted isn’t a word you’ll often see me use but in this case it is exactly the right word. Kerry-anne is a sweet girl who oozes love and affection, if Phil was a Coke then Kerry-anne is the ice and lemon, it’s as simple as that.

THE BIG DAY

August 10th, 2007. A Friday wedding. After a ‘cut throat razor’ shave and a huge English breakfast, Phil and I arrived at the church with plenty of time in hand and dressed to the nines. I checked my waistcoat pockets for the rings about once every three minutes. Kerry-anne’s wedding ring was so dainty that several times I had to double check fearing I had somehow lost it.

The guests started to arrive and as they did the church bells tolled just once, a quick practice by the bell ringers I assumed. As soon as that happened Phil began to look worried. He disappeared to the bathroom and then outside for air. I followed him into the church yard and for the first time ever I saw Phil in a state of what looked like sheer panic. It wasn’t second thoughts, I think it was just the reality of the big day hitting him. I did what I could to help, but what do you say to a groom who you’ve never seen this emotional before? To be honest, I don’t know what I said, I doubt Phil does either.

With Kerry-anne’s arrival imminent we headed back into the church with Phil still in an emotional state. The two of us stood at the alter and Phil, taking huge slow deep breaths, told me he wasn’t going to look back as the Bridal march music started. Instead he kept asking me “Is she there yet?” Eventually I said she was. “What does she look like?” He asked. “Mate, she looks amazing.” I said, and believe me she did. With that Phil turned around to catch a glance before quickly turning back looking heavenward and going into near hyperventilation! (I can’t wait to see the video!)

I know Phil didn’t doubt for a second that Kerry-anne would arrive, but her arrival calmed him immensely and he was able to say all his lines, even though his voice was breaking with emotion at times. It was actually quite moving to hear the usually calm Phil in a state of emotion. In contrast, Kerry-anne was completely composed and simply beaming with a smile that didn’t leave her face at any point for the rest of the day.

I’m not one to indulge in sappy romantic notions, but if love has a look then it would be the way Kerry-anne was looking at Phil as they stood together outside the church after they were married. I think seeing that that was my favorite moment of the day.

Another cool aspect of the wedding was meeting up with old friends Henry and Andy, who was being comically identified as ‘German’ Andy on account of the fact he now lives in Germany with his wife and kids. Henry works in television and had been shooting a TV documentary style wedding video that we’re all excited to see. Throughout the day we had worn radio mics to capture our conversations, speeches, and comments to one another.

BEST MAN SPEECH

Probably the biggest pressure for the best man is to write a deliver a crowd pleasing speech. Any would-be best man would do well to follow the advice my brother gave me. He told me to first relax about the whole thing. “It’s the easiest audience you’ll ever have mate,” He said. “Everyone wants you to be funny so they’ll be ready to laugh at all your jokes, almost regardless of how bad they might be.”

“You can’t really stuff it up,” He continued. “And to be honest, if you do nobody will remember or even care. Your primary responsibility as the best man is to get the groom and the rings to the church.”

I thought about that and how true it was. At all the weddings I’ve been to, like everyone else at the reception, I’ve sat there in high spirits and listened to the best man ready to laugh at the merest hint of a joke. In fact the only time I can ever remember being disappointed by a best man speech was when I couldn’t hear it because the guy simply wasn’t speaking loud enough.

Some guys write their speech months before the wedding, but that’s not my style. I tend to have a little more of a relaxed approach to life, so I wrote mine just two nights before the wedding. (I put that in the speech and people laughed thinking I was joking!) One useful tip I would offer any best man would be to print your speech onto cue cards, that way you’ll eliminate the risk of losing your place amid a mass of words on a sheet of paper your shaking hand is gripping.

If you don’t know what to say then there are loads of best man speech websites. But the main advice I would offer is this: Enjoy it! Remember to have fun, you’re not delivering the State of the Union or accepting an Oscar, so relax and enjoy the attention. You’re the best man! Smile and have a great day remembering that while all eyes might be on your for a little while, everyone turned up to see the bride and groom.

The evening was great with loads of fresh faces turning up to join the party. I tried my best to get around and speak to as many people as I could. The celebrations went on until the small hours and when it was over I wished it wasn’t.

I’m not one who usually enjoys weddings, they always seem a little over-done to me, like too much sugar in a cup of tea. But this one was different. I suspect that’s because I felt such a part of it, playing a role more significant than the usual walk on part. In short I had a fantastic time being the best man. – Thanks Phil!

My last words of the night