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Groom and Best Man © Robertoarti |
July 2021
Reading time 5 minutes
Congratulations, you’ve been chosen as the best man. Welcome to several months of stress and hassle for which you’ll be rewarded with some cufflinks!

1. Act like the best man
Being selected as best man isn’t a stamp of approval for your hilarious banter skills. It means you’re a trusted friend who the groom can rely on to fulfil certain duties, so take the role seriously and carry some responsibility – gather important phone numbers, make yourself aware of any sensitive family situations, become the go-to guy for whatever anyone needs, and don’t just expect to be handed a list of jobs by the bride.

2. Think beyond the speech
Look, you’re probably already fretting about the speech, but the biggest and most painful part of your role is organising the stag party. In fact the most painful part is extracting money from attendees by way of increasingly strained emails that culminate in violent threats veiled with a winky face. So start planning early, take heed of complaints and suggestions, and don’t forget that it’s okay to send out a group email listing all those who have paid and not paid.

3. Think about the speech
The speech is important though. If you don’t start getting prepared early you’ll look stupid, so stop implying it’s manly to leave writing the speech until the last minute and instead try doing it well. Make notes in the months before the wedding as ideas and anecdotes occur to you at work, on nights out, while flicking through Facebook and reading old text messages. If you do the research you’ll have the foundation for a really good speech.

4. Work on it
Now whittle everything down into a succinct, meaningful speech. It doesn’t need to be more than 10 minutes – a short, sharp and impactful speech is as good as it gets. Write it out, read it aloud, keep tinkering with the structure and refining any stories and jokes, condense it onto cards, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and don’t forget it ends by toasting the bride and groom.

5. Don’t try shock humour
The tools to make your speech funny are set-up and punchline, misdirection (‘but actually it was him, ha ha’), anecdotes and wit. Don’t try to be Frankie Boyle, and don’t embarrass anyone – you’ll be addressing a room of strangers, some of whom think Radio Four has become a bit boorish.    

6. Don’t milk it
You’re not a stand-up comedian, so don’t look pleased with yourself when they laugh – remember, they’re on your side, but it might not last.

7. Slow down
You’ll almost certainly be nervous, so slow down, let people laugh (they really are eager to laugh, no matter how thin the jokes are) and try to enjoy it – this is the easiest crowd you will ever speak in front of.

8. Say something nice
The bride deserves more than a quick, ‘She’s lovely, always polite, seems to make him happy.’ Think about the bride properly, including what the groom likes about her, what others like about her and what you like about her, then say it in an interesting way, making her feel included and not just a tickbox.

9. Avoid hacky jokes
If you found the joke on the internet, it’s rubbish. No exceptions.

10. Stay sober
Have nothing more than a glass of champagne before the speech – you need your wits about you, and being drunk really ruins timing. However, as soon as the speech is done you can consider yourself knocked off, so go and get drunk and start telling people the stories that didn’t make the PG cut.

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