This site contains a section of the book ‘How To Be An Awesome Best Man (And Not Screw Up Your Best Friend’s Wedding)’ by Chris Dicken. The chapter is called ‘How to Not Mess up the Best Man’s Speech’ and contains 11 golden rules that, if you follow them, will guarantee your speech is not a complete disaster.
Rule 1: Do Not Get Trashed During Dinner
One of the worst things about being a best man is while everyone is having a great time at dinner and knocking back the wine, you spend the whole time worrying about the delivery of your speech. It is so tempting at these moments to rely on a bit of Dutch courage and sink a few drinks to steady your nerves. I certainly did on my first best man’s gig, and consequently my speech was a hurried and slurred affair.
Similarly, when my Dad was best man at a winter wedding, he got so cold while outside organising the photographs that when he came back indoors he gratefully accepted a sherry to help warm him up. The sherry did such a successful job that Dad thought it would be a good idea to have another. And then another. And then another. Let’s just say the best man’s speech was not one of his finest efforts and he is still embarrassed about it to this day, 40 years later. Fortunately, there were no videos back then to record it for posterity, but in this modern age you will not be so lucky.
Now I’m not saying you need to steer clear altogether. Being sufficiently relaxed should help your delivery and make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Just don’t overdo it with the alcohol. You need to surf the beer curve:
The trick with the beer curve is to maintain the level of alcohol in your system so you achieve the perfect balance between relaxation and control. If you’ve ever had a few drinks while bowling you’ll know what I mean. One beer will relax you enough to start flowing better and getting more strikes. However, one beer too many and you start to not care and the balls start heading into the gutter.
One trick I do during dinner is to alternate alcohol and water. Or if you know you are a bit of an alcohol lightweight then maybe limit yourself to one before your speech and that’s it. And if it’s an open bar and you have lots of people wanting to get the best man a drink, just ask them politely to get you one after the speeches.
It seems like such a minor point, but there is nothing worse than a drunk best man standing up and giving a terrible speech. It makes everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable and what good-will you might have had at the beginning of the speech will quickly melt away. After you’ve finally finished, everyone will be drinking to try and forget your speech ever happened.
So hold back, and once you have done a fantastic job with the speech and you are finally off duty, you’ll not be short of people wanting to buy you a drink. Trust me, you’ll quickly catch up with everyone else.