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The job of best man

02 Nov 2011

The job of best man

It’s an honour to be asked

Being asked to be best man is a real honour – and not a job to be lightly undertaken.

A groom will only choose someone he fully trusts to be at his side on his wedding day

The person who accepts the task needs to know exactly what’s expected of them as a great best man can make a wedding day even more fantastic.

While the bride is supported by her bridesmaids, the best man is there as the groom’s escort. And, as well as being his trusty sidekick, he has some important duties.

He should be a great support during the planning of the big day and, on the day itself he will stand with the groom before the ceremony begins, hand over the wedding rings, escort the chief bridesmaid down the aisle and, of course, make a witty speech during the reception.

Other duties include supporting the groom throughout the planning, organise the stag night, staying with the groom the night before the wedding and getting him to the church – or any other venue - on time.

After the ceremony he traditionally has a dance with the chief bridesmaid.

But the most famous thing about the role of best man is the speech which should be prepared well in advance, not simply improvised on the spot.

To be successful the speech must be respectful, but also funny. Comments about the bride and groom should also be personal and sincere, though it is also important to ensure any words are appropriate for a general audience of all ages.

The speech, at best, should walk a fine line between irreverence and respect, making personal observations, while ensuring they are understood and appreciated by an audience including both children and the elderly.

When compiling his words the best man should consider the personality of the groom. Is the groom a “prankster,” who laughs easily and appreciates a good joke at his own expense? If so, your speech should mirror the groom’s personality, including funny comments.

Other grooms may be more traditional, serious or sentimental. Then a speech should mirror these personality traits, including more complementary and respectful anecdotes. A few jokes, can be included but balanced with plenty of sincere and respectful comments.

Many best man speeches go on way too long. But on the other hand it’s not expected for a speaker to say a few words and then sit back down. As a general rule, shorter is usually better and a five to 10 minute speech is plenty.

When the time is right, the best man will be called upon to deliver a speech, and it is extremely important that he does not drink too much before standing.

Part of the responsibility of a best man is to delay his own fun until fulfilling his responsibility to the groom and bride. And there’s no greater breach of etiquette than a best man who drinks heavily and delivers a slurred or incomprehensible speech.

For many, the most difficult aspect of best man speeches is the opening. The first sentence or two will set the tone for the entire speech. One important tip is to avoid the temptation to start with a big joke or outrageous, attention-getting comment. It is far better to begin simply and save the jokes and more personal comments for later in the speech.

One tried and true method of delivering a best man speech is to begin respectfully in order to set the tone. Then the speech can move gradually into humorous observations and jokes. Finally, it can end on a sentimental and congratulatory tone.

This is sometimes known as “the sandwich technique,” because the speech begins and ends with polite and sincere comments, while including funny stories and jokes in the middle.



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