The happy couple has chosen to downsize their guestlist and now your Big Moment looks set to be less, er, big than expected.
Don’t give up hope of entering the best man hall of fame just yet, here’s how to write a big impact speech for a smaller crowd.
As top rated speechwriters on Hitched and Trustpilot, the Speechy team has helped craft hundreds of bespoke wedding speeches for audiences big and small. So here is our insider tips for winning over the crowd...
A GOOD OPENER Forget the traditional ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ and go straight in with some irreverent humour. Aim for a laugh within the first 10 seconds. Yes, we are taskmasters but this is a Big Deal. Dude – you are the BEST man.
You know how much effort goes into your opening lines on Tinder? We’re talking that level of charm for your best mate’s family. ‘Hey babe’ probably won’t work here (or on Tinder for that matter). Try something like:
It’s so cool to hang out with you all in the flesh after a year of pretending to enjoy Zoom parties. Come on, we can admit it now… Mind you, you’ll probably wish you still had a mute button in a few minutes…
Welcome everyone. Not many couples have been brave enough to get married this year. But these nerds have survived extreme LARPing weekends in Sherwood Forrest – they weren’t about to let a global pandemic stand in the way of a little thing called love.
Or, sticking with the Tinder analogy, a genuine compliment goes down a treat:
It’s a shame Jake and Laura had to cut the guestlist down to 30, but on the plus side, they managed to keep the best looking ones for the wedding photos. Not gonna lie, it feels awesome to know us lot are literally the happy couple’s favourite people in the world.
A TOUGH CROWD
Smaller audiences may be more discerning than those which include half the groom’s university rugby team. With the hecklers and troublemakers off the list, your speech is more likely to go uninterrupted, but this might also mean winning less easy laughter.
With the usual entertainment dialled down, down to earth, funny speeches are in high demand. One perk to catering only for VIP guests is that most of them will be super close to the newlyweds. Here, in-jokes are not only appropriate but sought after.
However, if just close family are in attendance, certain jokes might be off the menu. Don’t completely sanitise your speech but do remember it’s less about you and more about the people listening. One cardinal rule remains: no mention of the groom’s exes.
PROP TO YOU
We’re not sure who decided props were an obligatory feature of best man speeches, but the phenomenon has grown into a bit of a monster, with revolving bowties and bulky flip charts being wheeled out willy-nilly.
PowerPoints are increasingly common. But cables, remote controls and dodgy Wi-Fi connections can be a major ball ache – this isn’t meant to feel like work for you or your audience. Think top table, not conference table.
By all means, pass around a blown-up picture of the groom in Batman fancy dress if it serves as a fitting punchline to your superhero themed anecdotes but – even better – ditch the distractions and just go in for some good old fashioned storytelling.
BE A LEGEND
With any crutches out of the way, your speech should be less slapstick and more sophisticated. This means no tired old wedding-gags. Avoid consulting google and find your own humour – there must be some gems among those years of hazy memories.
Feel free to create your own urban legend surrounding the groom’s pants ending up on the village church flagpole but bear in mind it’s sometimes enough – and often funnier – to allude to an event without giving the full story.
Remember the saying, ‘it’s funny because it’s true’, and resist adding wild embellishments. Authentic wit will inspire those the belly-laughs. If your mate is quite square and you don’t have any dirt on him, affectionately send up his funniest ‘Moss from the IT Crowd’ moments.
A VARIATION ON A THEME
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated, but a basic narrative will give your speech structure and keep you from wandering off course.
Build your story on a theme based on the groom’s most familiar qualities. Anything that has the audience nodding and smiling in recognition is on the right track. ‘Relatable’ is the best hook.
Occupations are often a good source of speech material. Suggest you may be solely responsible for his career in cyber security because of that time you hacked his phone and changed his autocorrect settings (substituting ‘many thanks’ for ‘big hairy balls’, etc).
Tongue in cheek marriage advice always goes down a treat – and it’s funny whether it’s coming from a two-time divorcee, a terminally single bachelor or a happily married best man whose partner is grinning knowingly from the audience.
Hark back to your flat-sharing days to give the groom’s partner a hot tip for living with him in harmony: turn a blind eye to his holey pants hoarding and make sure you write your name on all phone and laptop chargers in permanent marker.
If you’re looking for inspiration, borrow from the comedy giants. Kevin Bridges roots his stand up in brutal honesty: (on that Bruno Mars song) ‘I’d catch a grenade for you…’ If I was singing a love song, I’d be singing promises I could deliver… ‘I would take a dead arm for you’.
Check out our great quotes for best men blog for more inspo. Plagiarism isn’t allowed but quoting clever people is.
We’re going to break from form here and endorse the best man really dining out on his genuine affection towards the groom. In these pandemic hit times, people are less squeamish about expressing themselves and will be partial to a display of bromance.
Don’t leave out the bride – even if the two of you haven’t gelled as easily as you hoped, this is the person your mate has chosen as his happy ever after, so including her in your flattery is a sensible and pretty decent move.
We’re not talking epic levels of adulation here – obviously the balance still needs to be tipped in favour of humour – but feel free to ‘go deep’ without worrying about being cheesy. Drop a love bomb on your favourite couple.
CUT IT OUT
Even without the gravitational pull of a free bar and a dancefloor, guests won’t fancy sitting through a Gwyneth Paltrow Oscar length speech. Leave them wanting more.
There’s probably a lot of memories and a lot you’d like to say about this special bloke. But even if you’ve known the groom since playing Duplo together while your frazzled mums guzzled wine, cut the life story down to just a few exceptional anecdotes.
Jot down everything you feel you want to say, then be ruthless and cut all the waffle. We promise it’ll be much better for it. Slash it to a maximum of 1300 words – around the length of this blog – then practice it to within an inch of its life for a smooth delivery.
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