1 in 4 Best Men are also a brother of the groom. If you're one of them, congratulations on being chosen to support your sibling. Your special place in their life and affections can help to male your wedding day speech even more impactful and engaging. Here's how...
The brother's advantage.
- The scope of your speech is so much greater than a friend, however close, could hope for. Having grown up with the groom, you'll have a lifetime of funny moments and shared experiences to draw on. Dig back into your childhood as your audience will love hearing tales of you as boys. You'll find you can push the envelope with childhood tales, too. That story about breaking the groom's nose with a snow shovel? Hilarious if you were 4; horrific if you were 24.
- Brotherhood is a license to poke fun. People expect a little light-hearted teasing from a brother, so don't disappoint them. Wisecracks and humourous recollections about your brother's childhood, schooling or personality will be taken in good spirit by an audience that understands a brother's underlying bond of love and loyalty. A word of warning, though; you will know best how far to push things in your own family dynamic. Don't go too far if you think it might put the cat among the pigeons.
- While researching and writing your speech, your family connections mean siblings, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins can all be drafted in to dig up the best annecdotes for your speech. Reach out to them before the wedding. They'll all feel proud and happy to have leant a hand. All that family in the room means you'll have plenty of friendly faces in the crowd when it comes to delivering your speech, too. Most, if not all, of your family will be in the room, and they'll all be rooting for you.
- With the jokes and stories out of the way, talking on the subject of family will give you the perfect opportunity to welcome your new sister-in-law and her parents to your immediate family and the wider clan.
Of course, as the groom's brother, you'll be well known to many people in the room, but not to everyone. Be sure to introduce yourself properly and establish the relationship between you and the groom at the outset of your speech.
"In case you hadn't guessed, I'm the groom's little brother. The upgrade, if you will. Think of me as the artist's masterpiece. He's the rough sketches... rough being the operative word."
"I'm Jason; Paul's best man and also his little brother. I think it says a lot about a man when he chooses his brother to be his best man... Mostly, of course, it says 'I have no friends'."
"With the wedding looming, Paul had a difficult decision to make. Two brothers, but only one could be best man. He tried to choose, but in the end Greg and I drew straws... and I lost."
Pulling his leg
Your brother knows what he's letting himself in for. He's expecting to be the butt of your jokes, so don't waste this golden opportunity to have fun at his expense.
Delve into your shared history to find something funny to say about him or your exploits together - remembering, of course, to keep the focus firmly on him. You've got a lifetime of material to draw on. Run through the list below and something is bound to come to mind:
- Birth - including notable world events from the day.
- Infancy - first teeth, words, even illnesses and accidents if the tone is light.
- Christening or First Communion.
- Baby-sitters and pre-school memories.
- Starting school.
- Birthdays, Christmases and family celebrations.
- Sibling relations and visiting wider family.
- Vacations and trips.
- Family pets.
- Cub Scouts, clubs, bike rides, hobbies, sports and interests.
- Music, books, films and favourite celebrities.
- Haircuts and fashions.
- The transition to teenage, first girlfriends and awkward memories.
- Highschool, favourite (and least favourite) subjects, homework and exams.
- Part-time jobs, volunteering and gap years.
- Learning to drive and passing (or failing) driving tests.
- College or university.
- Starting a career, first jobs, work triumphs and funny mistakes.
The list could go on and on, but do note, there's nothing to be gained from talking about ex-girlfriends, except an angry bride, and an unconfortable audience.
Feel free to weave the occasional joke - as opposed to a true story - into your speech, when you're talking the early years. Your audience will understand that you're only playing.
"It has to be said, Paul was a weird looking baby. In fact, we were at the shops once when a woman at a sales desk said he was the ugliest baby she'd ever seen. Mum was fuming. She was pacing up and down outside the shop for ten minutes with me and Paul, until a policeman came over to ask if everything was alright. Mum told him what the woman inside had said and he offered to look after us while she made a complaint to manager... Well, what he actually said was 'You go and give him a piece of your mind, madam. I'll hold your monkey."
"My earliest memory of Paul is from his first birthday party. I remember Dad walking round and round the garden with Paul in his arms, and Paul was just burping and crying for ages. I asked Mum what was wrong with the baby and she said he'd just eaten too much cake... So if you see my Dad outside later, doing circuits with Paul on his back, you'll know what's happened."
Everybody expects a little competition between brothers. Don't be afraid to big yourself up at his expense. Do it well and you won't come across as arrogant. Try to be a little self-effacing even as you roast the groom...
"For those of you who don't know me, I'm Jason, Paul's younger brother. The good looking one. He may be the heir, but I've got the hair."
"Paul was born on the 15th of September, 1973. My parents had wanted a girl... and let's be honest, they very nearly got one."
"Paul took his big brother role very seriously as a kid. He was determined to do what was expected of him. So he beat me up, blamed me for everything he broke, stole my stuff, sabotaged my plans and generally made life unbearable. Anyway, it's a great honour to be giving the best man's speech today... or as I call it, payback."
"I'll be honest; I always got the feeling that Paul was Mum and Dad's favourite, because he could get away with anything. This one time, he brought this fat little smelly kid home from school with him and just marched him into the house. Mum was furious, but she did nothing to stop him. Then again, I suppose she had no choice. I did live there."
"From the outset, Paul was always the perfect son, while I was deemed to be something of a wild child. It's painful to admit, but if we hadn't been brothers, I'm the sort of kid Mum and Dad would have told him not to play with."
Meet the parents
Of course, the single biggest thing you have in common with your brother is your parents. Anecdotes about Mum and Dad wil always go down well, provided there's no underlying bitterness there. Keep them short and upbeat, and don't be afraid to ditch the jokes altogether, for a little family love.
"Mum and Dad have always had an almost uncanny ability to know what's going on in our lives. When Paul found me smoking in the back garden when I was 13, Mum and Dad were the first to know. When he spotted me setting off fireworks from my bedroom window, Mum and Dad were the first to know. When Paul saw me taking... Hey! Wait a minute! My brother's a snitch!"
(Just for twins...) "As identical twins, we always liked the idea of switching places to see if we could fool people. Not in a creepy date-swapping way, just for fun. We tried it a few times but it never quite worked. To be honest, I could never quite pull off the role of 'the stupid one'."
"Other than the bride and groom themselves, I don't think anyone here is more hapy to see Paul getting married than our parents. They've been an amazing role model for me and Paul. They've been married for thirty years, and they are still as loving and loyal as ever. It's their love that forms the bedrock of the happy, supportive and loving family before you now. The only thing that was missing, until today, was Linda."
You have a sister now
Make a point of praising your brother's bride. If you can combine the compliment with humour, all the better, but never have fun at her expense. It's better to gently poke fun at him by pointing out how lucky he is, or how his bride has improved him.
"I'm extremely fond of Linda, and we're all delighted to have her in the family. In fact, when Paul told us they were getting married, there was only one thought that ran through our minds... 'Now there's a girl who knows how to settle."
"Linda is something of a miracle worker. She took the mishapen lump of human Play-Doh that I call my brother, and moulded him into a man. Let's hope it lasts. And if he does start to get brittle or droopy in his old age, just sprinkle him with water, roll him around a bit, and draw a smiley face on him with a sharp stick."
"I'm delighted to welcome Linda into the family. We all love you very much and I'm sure you'll find us to be a warm and supportive bunch. Just - and I can't stress this enough - steer clear of Monopoly. Seriously. If the box comes out, just run."
"Linda, it's obvious to me that you and Paul are perfect for each other, and I hope you'll enjoy a lifelong happy marriage. I just want you to remember one thing. When Paul says something that can be taken two ways, and one of those ways makes you sad or cross, Paul meant it the other way... If the other way makes you sadder and crosser, well I'm sorry, Paul, you can dig yourself out of that one."
You've had your fun, now be nice
This isn't a straightforward roast, so while you're busy pulling your brother's leg, make sure to leave room to say something genuinely affectionate about him, if only for your mother's sake. You are brothers. That's a very special bond, and now is your opportunity to celebrate it.
"As Paul's big brother, I've known him his entire life. Often it's the younger sibling who feels he has to live up to his older brother, but with us it's the other way around. Paul is kind, loving, loyal, hard working and ambitious. He's the one I look up to... That's one way of looking at it, anyway. Another is that I was just trying to keep the bar low for him so he wouldn't feel pressured. No need to thank me, mate."
"We're very different people, Paul and I. I like comedies, he's a horror film fan. I'm impulsive, he's a planner. I hate tomatoes, Paul doesn't know a recipe without them. There's one thing we both agree on, though. Meeting Linda was the single best thing that has ever happened to him in his life."
"It's fair to say that brothers don't always see eye to eye growing up, but any grief we gave each other was always offset by the unbreakable bond between us. Paul says the treatment he sometimes doled out when we were kids was to 'round my character', and maybe it did help. If I had an ounce of his kindness, loyalty, dedicationa and ambition, I'd count myself a lucky man. But no more character rounding, eh Paul? I've got a character like a bloody beach ball, thanks to you."
Try to leave your audience on an optimistic note, with a warm thought or two about what the future might hold. As with most subjects, your best man role gives you the license to add a little cheeky twist...
"A toast to the future, I think... I see Sunday roasts and smiling families. The harvest of honest work on the table, and the happy faces of children playing. I see love and support and good times together... And then I see that I've got the wrong address! Bloody sat-nav! I get back in the car and drive to Paul and Linda's house. Oh. That's weird. They're not answering the door. They've got the curtains closed. Hang on! The living room curtains just twitched! Oh I see! That's how you treat your family, is it?"
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