On Saturday January 29th 2011, the evening before turning 50, my Dad proposed to Helen (my now step-mum) during a celebratory dinner at our favourite local pub-restaurant, La Collina. Present that night were myself, Helen’s parents, and Helen’s brother with his family.
On Friday 1st July 2011 I celebrated my 18th birthday with my whole family for the first time. However, unbeknown to me, a single present was held back by my Dad and was instead given to me at a small BBQ at his that following weekend. The present was a book titled Being the Best Man for Dummies. And that is how my Dad (& Helen) asked me to be the best man at their wedding on Friday 30th September of that same year.
The way I was asked was typical of my Dad’s humour and, though we all had very valid reservations about my suitability for the role, I was filled with pride and determined not to let anyone down on the day. Although there would be no stag party, I would still have to make a speech and hand over the rings. I wasn’t really worried about the rings despite the fact I knew I would be slightly nervous, but I was worried about the speech because that was extremely daunting.
Now, I’ll be honest, I’d never been to a wedding before. Plus in films/TV shows, everyone makes a big deal about the best man’s speech having to be funny, slightly embarrassing, and full of quips whilst also managing to retain some integrity, honesty, and recognition of how important the bridge and groom are to each other. If you know me well then you’d know that straight away, if I followed this line of thought when writing my speech, that I was in big trouble. Why? Because I am not funny. Not funny “haha” anyway. I can’t crack jokes off and make people laugh and, most of the time if people are laughing, it is at me because I have just made a fool of myself. It’s a curse really.
Secondly, if you know my Dad, then you’d know despite being a warm, caring, motivational person (although he would deny at least two of those things), he can also be rather traditional in his approach to things. Plus this day was Helen’s day, and we both wanted to make it as special as possible.
So out the window went the “suggested” best man’s speech format, and out came the highlighter as I attacked my dummies guide book with a ruthlessness and determination that probably would have seen me achieve better grades in both my GCSE’s and A-Levels.
It actually helped that near the start of September I moved away from home in preparation for University. By moving into shared accommodation, I ended up with people who didn’t know me or my family, that I could basically use as guinea pigs to test and tweak my speech so it would be perfect.
So the day came around and all went as smoothly as it could. I made sure Dad was awake in the morning, that we were both dressed correctly, and that we made it to the venue safely. The actual ceremony was really lovely, and seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, we were all sat around a table listening to my Dad’s speech. At this point, I had my prompt cards in hand and was steeling myself for one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my entire life. I had put so much into the speech and the last thing I wanted it do was mess something up. I thought I had it all sussed too, I’d put on a face, I was focused, I was in the zone and then… Dad pulled a rabbit out the hat and caught be completely by surprise.
Now, it is tradition that during the groom’s speech, a present if gifted to the maid of honour. It is not, however, tradition that a present be gifted to the best man. But that is exactly what Dad and Helen had organised. All of a sudden I was overcome with emotion and had completely lost my focus. Everything happened so quickly that I hadn’t really processed what they had given me by the time I was introduced.
Shaking, I stood up and started on the first line of my speech. My voice was quivering and cracking by the second, and by the third I was in tears (of joy) unable to continue and had to leave the room in order to compose myself.
A couple of deep breaths later and I was back. I started again and just tried as hard I could to concentrate on getting through the entire thing without bursting into tears once more.
Obviously though, I did. Right at the end. Fortunately, the moment I finished my Dad stood up to give me a hug and I could see he was crying too. It was certainly something that made me feel a little better, that’s for sure.
After that, everything was pretty easy. Pose for some photos, have a few drinks, maintain the peace. Bish bash bosh, bob’s your uncle and done.
Author’s note: once I am able to get a hold of it, you will be able to read the speech for yourselves by clicking here
Alternatively, to see my complete bucket list, click here