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Have Best Man speeches taken a turn for the worst?

by | 14 October 2017 | Groom

When did Best Men become the worst men at weddings? I ask because of the lewd Best Man speech at Pippa Middleton’s wedding recently.

I’ve certainly been at a wedding where the Best Man speech was loaded with inappropriate jokes about the groom, his past antics, and his relationship with the bride. I’ve also been at a wedding where the Best Man had a little too much Dutch courage and deviated from his speech to deliver a slurred account of the Stag weekend in Amsterdam.

It’s almost become a wedding worry or a talking point, hasn’t it? ‘Oooh, I wonder how on-the-line the Best Man’s speech is going to be?’ And it seems that some Best Men treat their speech as one last huzzah to the groom before he ties the knot; dishing out low blows just to get a laugh.

But, seriously, how did we get here?

In other cultures, the Best Man is honourable

According to Wiki, being a Best Man in other cultures is something of an honour. In Uganda, a Best Man is expected to guide the newlyweds in the ways of marriage. So, ideally, he’d be married (preferably to one wife), and be in a position to give sound, tried and tested advice.

In Eastern Orthodox weddings in Greece, the Best Man often plays the role of religious sponsor – an honoured member of the wedding who crowns the couple, participates in circling the altar three times, and sometimes even pays for most of the wedding expenses.

And in Bhutan, the Best Man presents himself at the wedding as a ceremonial guardian to both the bride and groom. He’s also expected to entertain the guests at the wedding, dancing with relatives – sometimes for several hours!

But in the UK, the only real responsibilities of a Best Man is to be a sounding board for the groom, manage the ushers, not lose the rings, and deliver a speech at the reception. (Our Matt wrote a quick and easy guide on being a Best Man.)

Best Man speeches - Sherlock Holmes

The speech: humiliation vs humour

And so we get to the speech. We all know as the audience it should be moving, heartfelt and sincere. However, it seems to have evolved into an act of humiliation for the groom, and sometimes the speaker too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a funny Best Man speech. And if you definitely know you’re funny, knock yourself out. But not many people are natural comedians. And oftentimes, they mistake innuendos or crass stories as lol-worthy humour.

Best Man speeches - wedding speeches

Tips on acing your Best Man speech

If you’re writing a Best Man’s speech for an upcoming wedding, skip the dodgy anecdotes, avoid likening the bride to a dog, and don’t make a joke about ‘going to Bangor’ for your honeymoon.

Instead, check out our Best Man masterclass on the perfect speech. And remember the fail-safe formula: make your audience laugh twice and cry once. Then give back the microphone and sit the heck down.

Best Man speeches

Have you delivered or witnessed a Best Man speech that fell flat on its face? Or do you consider yourself a master Best Man and have some shareable speech writing tips for our readers? Be sure to leave us a comment in the box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.

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Groom Have Best Man speeches taken a turn for the worst?