Of all the things I knew I’d have to do (and most of the things I did not know I’d have to do) as Gavin’s best man, the speech was the one that caused me the most concern. I have never been very good at public speaking or at being funny when people are watching.
I visited a number of web sites to try and get inspiration but most of the speeches seemed to be full of the same old cliched jokes and one liners. However, a number of them were useful for the general structure of the speech, I particularly found Hitched useful and it has a number of resources in addition to a vast library of all kinds of speeches.
The speech itself was barely written 2 weeks before the wedding and went through at least 20 revisions in the days leading up to the event. The text at the end of this page is the text that I had for reference on the day but has been altered slightly to be closer to what I actually said. Of course, I ad libbed like mad, forgot bits, shuffled bits around and dropped some sections entirely when it actually came to it. I was nervous about this at the time but eventually realised that no one would notice except me so it did not matter.
One of the problems I had was that the vicar had used a lot of the stuff I wrote about arguments during the service so I had to insert a couple of jokes about him plagiarising my material.
In the end the whole thing went down very well and everyone laughed and complimented me, even the ones who probably had no idea what I was talking about for 90% of the time. The truest thing I read about the process of making this kind of speech is that everyone wants you to be funny and will probably think you are even if you don’t!
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It is my anticipation that by this stage in the proceedings you are all agreeably drunk and well fed up. If not then you probably won’t find this speech as amusing as I had hoped.
Many of you don’t know me so I had better do a quick introduction. My name is Paul and I have the honour of being selected by Gavin to be his best man. This is good news for you as it means that the speeches are nearly over and you’ll soon be able to take a well deserved rest before being asked to drink and dance the night away. It is bad news because you now have to listen to me waffle on for the next few minutes. In the interests of everyone’s sanity I will endeavour to keep it brief.
On behalf of the bridesmaids I would like to thank Gavin for his kind words. I would also like to personally say thank you to Jemima, Liz, Jacqui and Hannah for performing their duties flawlessly. I think you will all agree that they are looking fantastic today, surpassed in their beauty only by the bride herself, and I should hope so too as Sarah chose the outfits.
I’d like to thank you all for coming along today to help Sarah and Gavin to celebrate this momentous occasion. I know that a number of you have traveled a long way to be here today. I’m sure that the happy couple will agree that their experience is all the richer for your presence. Personally I wish you had all stayed at home and then I would not have to be standing here. I must confess to being somewhat nervous about making this speech so I apologise if I get a bit tongue tied.
I hope that you will all agree that my primary task of getting the groom to the church physically unharmed, not chained to anything and sober enough to still be able to speak has been performed flawlessly. If you don’t agree then I’ve had a very bad morning and am in denial so give me a break.
Another duty of the best man is supposed to be to bring means of paying for anything the groom may have “forgotten” to pay for. Now, I know how much weddings cost so my credit card is safely at home in Nottingham.
Whilst preparing this speech I read that it is traditional to mention how you first met the groom. I found that I could not remember and for a while I was concerned (is a person who can’t remember how they met you really a good choice as a best man?) However, at length I decided that when you become a true friend of someone, it really doesn’t matter how you met them or why you originally became friends.
At further length I concluded that, due to the absence of any aptitude for public speaking or experience at organising stag dos on my part, I was probably chosen for being a similar build to Gavin so that we could swap clothes if necessary. At this point I decided that it is not my purpose as best man to say nice things about the groom.
Anyway… Gavin and I sat down to see if either of us could remember how we had met. Although we started university at the same time and were in the same hall of residence, I did not know Gavin during our first year. As many of you will know, Gavin’s first attempt at university was thwarted by some minor illness that sent him home to recuperate. A few of the guests here this evening have more detailed knowledge of this incident and some amusing stories. If you buy Dave a drink later on then I’m sure he’ll delight in telling them to you.
Anyway, we came to the conclusion that we had probably met sharing a bed. In fact, another man’s bed. I refer of course to the bed of our good friend Mr Lance Brown. Many of our friendships began or were cemented in that room, possibly even that very bed…Lance took his position as social secretary very seriously.
Whilst in hall Gavin and I shared a number of interests. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these interests, I feel that they are better not discussed at this venue (some of them may even be here today!). [Wave] [Turn to Gavin and confirm that none of them are in attendance]
One thing I can talk about is our shared love of motor sport and particularly F1, Gavin’s encyclopedic knowledge of which frequently puts me to shame. His support of Michael Schumacher in his scarlet Ferrari could be seen to match closely with Sarah’s obsession with another sporting group closely associated with the colour red. Possibly not the best basis for a marriage but it is more of a start than some.
Gavin’s fascination with sweaty men in bulging lycra shorts however is something that the happy couple probably needs to discuss further in private. The fact that he has numerous videos of such men as well as posters, magazines and books is something that I am not even going to mention.
Gavin and I share a somewhat warped sense of humour. For example, how many of you would find it amusing if I answered every question you asked me by saying “The Belgians”. We been known to finish each other’s sentences and occasionally dissolve into fits of laughter for no reason discernible to anyone else in the room. If you see one of us giggling uncontrollably then you will probably find the other nearby pulling a very odd face. If you don’t see the other nearby, and this is very important, you should immediately find something for the giggler to drink.
Sarah has long been confused by this shared humour and it was decided that we should indicate such bouts of private mirth with a token of some kind which would be brandished by the person initiating the humour. This token was assumed to be a stick but for a long period no actual stick was available so people looking in on us would be treated to the somewhat surreal vision of 2 grown men lying on the floor crying with laughter brandishing a spoon at each other and yelling “Stick!”
We have in the past been accused of being the same person. Mainly for reasons alluded to above which I have already said I won’t elaborate on (though I think you’ll find I do in the next paragraph or so). There was some concern that Sarah might get confused and marry the wrong one of us. So in the spirit of friendship I agreed to make an effort to be easily distinguishable by wearing this distinctive suit and waistcoat combination [indicate my clothes which were identical to Gavin’s except foe the buttonhole].
Because I met him at university, I don’t know a lot about Gavin’s early life. Attempts to get anecdotes from friends and family were not very productive. I can only assume that he was a very boring teenager.
There was one thing that Gavin mentioned about his very early life. As many of you know Gavin is an only child. There is a reason for this. That reason is Gavin. Gavin was such an unpleasantly noisy baby that his parents decided never to have another. All I can say is that I hope Sarah and Gavin come to exactly the same decision about marriage but for entirely opposite reasons. (Perhaps not the noisy bit but we won’t mention that).
Let’s also hope that their children inherit Sarah’s love of sleeping rather than Gavin’s love of screaming.
This kind of attention seeking behaviour continued at university when Gavin threw the world’s biggest sickie; missing almost his entire first year so that he could help out with the conservative election campaign. This does not bode well for any prospective career in politics as they lost that year and have never been the same since.
This would be a convenient point to mention when Sarah and Gavin first met. Gavin and I were both living in Willoughby Hall again, it was my 3rd year and his 2nd in his re-started university career and I don’t think that it would be particularly unkind to describe us as slightly sad older guys who spent most of our time chasing first year girls. Or maybe that was just me… Anyway, Gavin and I used to play pool and it was whilst playing with Gavin [stick] that I first remember meeting Sarah.
Pretty soon she was playing with both of us regularly(!) Now, Sarah and Gavin did not get together straight away, and Gavin and I had matured…into sad older guys who chase after 2nd and 3rd year girls(!) before they became a couple.
At this point I’d like to say a few words about the Stag evening. I know that traditionally a lot of things occur at a stag do to embarrass the groom and you might expect that I would mention the inflatable sheep (and the unspeakable things that Gavin did to it), the slippery nipples and being accosted by the Gerrard Depardieu look a like who took an unhealthy interest in where we were going to spend the night. However, I thought I could summarise the day by saying that Gavin spent the whole afternoon in my trousers before spending the evening in bed with another man.
Photographs of the stag do are available on request.
I don’t want to suggest that Gavin is conservative but he actually wanted one of his colleagues to be a legal adviser on the stag do in case we tried to make him do anything illegal. Unfortunately, none of his colleagues could join us, however, in their absence however we were good and did not force Gavin to do anything illegal, however last time I looked, booking a hotel room for the purpose of spending the night in bed with another man was still an offence.
I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about one of the most important parts of a marriage. I refer of course to the argument. Gavin is a lawyer by profession (but we don’t hold it against him) and I maintain the point of view that this means that he is paid a large sum of money for being good at arguing. Watching Sarah and Gavin argue can be a marvelous spectator sport. I have listened to them argue for ages before they notice what any casual observer would have noticed in the first few minutes – that they are both arguing the same point of view! If they are this harmonised when arguing then they have nothing at all to fear from married life.
They have also extended the art of the argument (perhaps spirited discussion would be a better description) to the most mundane of things. An attention to detail bordering on the dangerously obsessive combined with a pathological desire to make as few decisions a physically possible can turn even a simple discussion of what to have for breakfast into a good hour of conversation. At least they will never be short of something to talk about.
There is a saying that you should never go to bed on an argument. I agree, even a futon is more comfortable.
There is another saying that you should never let the sun go down on an argument. Since it is proven to be impossible to win an argument with your wife, a man would have to be able to stop the sun from setting to achieve this. The reason that we still have a night/day cycle is that all the men who are clever enough to control the sun are also smart enough not to get married.
[Insert lawyer joke here if you feel like it]
At the risk of giving away the ending (or at least that the end is in sight), I’d like to ask you all to make sure that your glasses are charged.
As a toast I’d like to paraphrase a famous quote whose origins escape me at present. In a good marriage you should come to love each other more with each passing day. I hope that in years to come, Gavin and Sarah will be able to look back on today as the day on which they loved each other the least.
Ladies and gentlemen……the bride and groom, Mr and Mrs Gavin Evans.