A best man’s speech is about more than celebrating (or comedy-mourning the loss of) your best mate. You also have to bring his new spouse into the speech to get full best man points.
But paying a heartfelt compliment to someone you may not know particularly well – or maybe have known for years but never really got to know – is a tall task.
Luckily for you, Speechy has years of expertise in working with all sorts of best men the world over. We know how to write a tribute that’s inclusive, authentic, and more than just a nod to them agreeing to put up with a lifetime with your weird friend.
Here’s what you need to be saying…
The Basic Rules
The tribute doesn’t need to be long but needs to be more than a succession of clichés. The aim is to make sure your words seem genuine and like you actually know them. We suggest:
- Say they look beautiful / handsome – ok, it’s a cliche but it’s a necessary one
- Think of something you admire about them – even if it’s just their ability to fry up an excellent breakfast when you’re all feeling slightly ‘delicate’
- Any classic anecdotes you can sum up in a sentence
- Why the couple work so well together
Now let’s unpack this for you…
The Obligatory Compliment
This is one tradition that is not going anywhere. Everyone likes being told they look great. On their wedding day it’s the law. No free drinks for you if you don’t.
It’s perfectly fine to use one of the usual descriptive words to compliment them on their appearance – stunning, handsome, gorgeous, and beautiful are all acceptable choices. But to make your compliment really sing, go for something bespoke. Show that you’ve noticed the special effort they’ve gone to on this momentous day, or that you recognise how unique they are. Like…
‘I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to look better than Daniel Craig in a tux but you’ve only gone and proved me wrong.’
‘It finally makes sense to me why Mark’s favourite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid, now he has his very own red-haired princess who’s a fearless open water swimmer. No chance of this one giving up her voice for a bloke though.
What do you admire about them?
There’s nothing that says cut and paste more than a speech full of platitudes that say nothing identifiable whatsoever about the person you’re talking about.
Look for something about their character that you couldn’t say about just any old bride or groom, even if it’s their saintly levels of patience at being a FIFA widow or that, after the honeymoon, you plan to make an appearance most Sundays to be in with a chance at being served their famous Yorkshire puddings.
Dig deep and there will be something that stands out about how cool they are…
Maybe you covet their massive record collection and appreciate the fact they’ve got your mate to stop listening to Coldplay. Perhaps their career has them going on super impressive fieldwork for an NGO and leaves your mate pining for them when they’re out of the country. Or it might just be that they’re a true people magnet, as evidenced by the 80:20 ratio of their wedding guests to your mate’s.
Sum up a Story
Presumably, if you and the groom are close, you’ve all had an opportunity to spend at least some time together. Forget about listing each and every occasion you’ve hung out, just choose one – or at most two – anecdotes that prove what you’ve said about their character.
If you’ve mentioned that they’re generous, a quick line acknowledging the Friday nights they’ve taxied you from Jason Doner-van to your front door without commenting on the greasy kebab fingerprints in their pristine car will evidence that claim.
If you’ve said they’re funny, remind them you’ve noticed by paying homage to their Robert De Niro impression the times they took your drunk ass home from aforementioned kebab van.
WHY THE COUPLE WORK SO WELL TOGETHER
You’re in prime position to identify your best friend’s best qualities and his most irritating flaws. Knowing he’s found the person who balances out these parts of him should fill you with warm, happy feelings – and probably also some relief.
Try and explain in just a sentence or two why you think these two go together like aloo and gobi.
Maybe your friend is one of those weird people who actually enjoys cleaning and his new spouse leaves the kitchen looking like a nuclear disaster area after making a spaghetti bolognaise. Or perhaps his partner is a professional dog groomer and your mate has the most high-maintenance, hairiest back known to man.
HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL AFFECT YOUR TRIBUTE
WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW THE GROOM’S PARTNER?
If you’ve barely met them – this is true more often than you’d think – you can make a joke about it. Just a cheeky ‘He’s been keeping you locked up’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to meet the person who can beat Dave on Mario kart’ will suffice.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE MY FRIEND’S PARTNER?
Look, in an ideal world, every day would be like a Friends episode, but occasionally there’s that one personality that doesn’t align with ours – think Janice – and they also happen to have laid claim to our best mate forever more. It doesn’t help if you feel you’ve made the effort but they’ve been colder than a penguin’s bumhole in return.
No point sitting there, pencil and notebook in hand, thinking Oh. My. God.
Your friendship is bigger than your pride. So swallow it. Just crack on and say something – anything – positive about the person your friend is promising to spend the rest of his life with. If you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, just say ‘I know Nick thinks the absolute world of you because you’re the only person in the world he’d ever give up fantasy football night for.’
Try not to sound too bitter about it.
WHAT IF MY FRIEND’S PARTNER DOESN’T LIKE ME?
Sometimes we do meet those rare people who don’t appreciate waking up to the smell of leftover kebab in their Honda Civic, or for some reason don’t get our *jokes* about different types of poo. And in an increasingly polarised political world, people’s outlooks on life can genuinely jar quite considerably.
The key here is to bond over the universal. If there are things you love or find odd or funny about your best mate, chances are his spouse has noticed them too, and will be able to appreciate you pointing them out in your speech, even while scowling at you just a little.