Being asked to be best man is a huge privilege. It’s not every day someone close chooses you to play such an important role in a major life event.
Naturally when my brother asked me to be his best man, I instantly said yes. And then I panicked...
There’s a lot to think about when you’re a best man but we all know the two things you really can’t mess up are the stag do and the speech. In contrast to my older brother, the groom, I would say that I’m the disorganised one. So my relaxed demeanour clashed somewhat with my brother’s high expectations of how the stag do should be planned and delivered. There was definite conflict and anyone with a brother will know that when you’ve got grievances, brothers pull no punches. But in the end I pulled it off: it was organised on email, there were 15 people who came and despite it being extremely tough to pull together without having a major rift with my bro, the stag do went remarkably well. We went to Oktoberfest in Munich, there was booze aplenty, and everyone who came had a great time. Job one, ticked off.
If the stag do was difficult to sort, the planning and preparation for the best man’s speech was hard on a whole other level. Where do you even start when it comes to writing a witty, engaging, emotional-with-a-little-pinch-of-crudeness speech that’s appropriate for a diverse crowd? I think this is where the gravity of the situation really hit home for me and the realisation started to dawn that on this most important of days, I was going to have to stand up in front of a crowd of people - many of whom are close family, good friends, and other clearly important people in the lives of my brother and future sister-in-law - and tell them how much my brother means to me.
To cut a long story short, I wrote and rewrote my speech multiple times and practiced like I’d never practiced before. I sought out advice from anyone I could possibly find who’d done similar speeches, and I tried to build something personal and from the heart. For people planning their own speech, I’d definitely recommend planning it as early as you can (at least six months before, writing and rewriting it), not being afraid to ask for advice and practicing in front of plenty of people (this is a good gauge for which jokes are going to land well).
When the day itself came, I was the most nervous I’d ever been. I read the script over and over. I tried to distract myself by actively trying to enjoy the day and catching up with all of the familiar faces. Thankfully I was also disciplined with the amount of booze I had (one bottle of beer to steady the nerves), as no one wants a best man slurring their words. It was when the speeches began that my nerves decided to take it up a notch. When my turn came, annoyingly after a really good speech from my brother and a very funny one from the father of the bride, my heart was racing. This was where it really hit home that I was about to say one of the most important speeches in my life. I felt that pressure really build, seeing my close family staring up at me from the front seats, the rest of the head table looking sideways at me. But when I started speaking, it just came flowing out. As I cracked a few jokes and got a few laughs, my confidence grew and I suddenly realised that everyone in front of me was rooting for me. It wasn’t so bad after all.
Best men’s speeches can be notoriously laddy - it’s not uncommon to segue a few embarrassing stories of the groom in there. But the most important thing is to relax and let your emotions show. Your brother is the guy you’ve grown up with, who’s admittedly been a pain sometimes but who has also been there through thick and thin. And it’s the least he deserves.