The Best Man’s speech is a tricky genre in which to write. It has to be in part a roast of the groom and perhaps the bride, the beauty of the ceremony and the bride must be noted, and it also must contain a certain amount of schmaltz. Positive things must be said about love and marriage, but not children or “family,” which might lead to nosy questions. Everything must be in balance lest someone be offended or shocked. “Is he saying the bride’s an alcoholic and the groom a poon-hound?” is something I’ve found myself asking on more than one such occasion.**
Anyway, I got a lot of praise afterwards. Of course I can’t be sure it was not the kind of praise you give the retarded girl for her indecent dancing with her grandfather. (No, this example does not concern a guest at this wedding.)
My one regret is that I didn’t play down or hide from the groom my performance anxiety. Giving the groom fewer, not more things to worry about, is ultimately the job description of the best man.
So here goes, as I had it printed out before me.
Excuse me everyone, if I could have your attention for a moment, I’d like to say a few words.
I’m David Pittelli, and I have the honor of being Brad’s best man.
Looking around today at all these guests, I am thankful that the duties of best man no longer include fending off the bride’s relatives with swordplay.
Civilization has advanced from Anglo-Saxon times, and of course Kim would make a pretty formidable swordswoman herself if it came to that.
So now that I’ve delivered a groom and a ring to the ceremony, it is my final duty and honor to make a little speech suitable for mixed company.
First I would like to thank our hosts, Kim and her parents Ruth and Bill, and Brad and his parents Priscilla and C.C. What a lovely place they’ve chosen for a June wedding.
It's my job to compliment the beautiful bride and also to say something profound about Brad. The first part is easy. Kim, you look stunning, and Brad is a very lucky man.
Like most of us here I know one half of the wedding couple much more than the other.
In fact, I have known Brad for almost 30 years.
I’d like to help you all get to know Brad as I have.
But, on advice of council…
I’m going to have to invoke my rights under the Fifth Amendment on all of that.
Brad is getting married late enough in life that, no doubt, many have seen him as a life-long bachelor...
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Destiny is a fickle mistress, if I’m allowed to use that word tonight.
In Brad’s case, finding a bride was merely a matter of a company hiring both him and Miss Right… after he had driven a few biotech firms into the ground.
I have been married for a few years. And while getting married was the best thing I ever did, my wife and I do have our occasional disagreements.
To deal with them, Brad, sometimes you’ll need a firm hand.
And sometimes you’ll need a delicate touch.
While washing my wife’s delicates the other day, it occurred to me that Brad really is a very good friend. He helped me through many a romantic crisis in my single days. And if you’ve got a difficult construction project, Brad is always willing to lend a hand.
And he’s more fit than he looks.
Which is a good thing, because it’s murder getting an ambulance through
I’d also like to say that Brad is the most level-headed man I know and, along with his generosity, another thing that stands out is his appreciation of quality. And today, Brad, you’ve found a lady of true quality in Kim. It’s been an honor and a privilege to be your best man today.
So finally, it is my considered pleasure to say let us drink to the everlasting love and happiness of Brad and Kim!
* A debate before a prep school of 300. One reason I recently taught that class “Rejuvenating Your Shrubbery” was because I wanted to build up some practice speaking to a little group. Well, I got one student! My legions of fans let me down. It’s a good thing I’m not a cult leader, or you’d all be getting the Kool-Aid… Actually, the class size of one meant I could instead hold it in the student’s garden; and I think that worked out quite well for her and was good practice of another sort for me.
** It is fairly easy to write one-liners which might be funny if you heard them second-hand or in a movie featuring an awful toast, but which would really upset people in a real wedding. (e.g., “…No, we won’t be making midnight trips to
Here are two outtakes – jokes which didn’t quite work for me (the first perhaps too hard to follow aurally; the latter might have worked if I were gay):
I looked up the meaning of Brad’s name and discovered that
I know that whoever said that marriage and family can be work was not kidding. But to me, building a family is like planning and making a garden. The result and even the process are usually pleasant, even if you do get a little dirt under your fingernails. Now, ornamental gardening is my primary hobby. Perhaps to Brad marriage should be seen as an extended fishing trip. But then, ending up with a stinky fish would come to mind – so never mind all of that.