So, my old buddy Ben got hitched. Yep. He and Tahlia finally tied the knot, down in “sunny” Cornwall. It was beautiful, despite the rain. Best man’s duties fell to Jake (Ben’s bru), who is also one of my dearest friends, so I wasn’t at all miffed at missing out on that job. Besides, I really don’t think I could have delivered a speech quite as special as the one Jake did. Oh, boy. No, siree…
Why, I hear you cry? What happened? What made it so special? Well, first of all, he was nervous, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jake nervous about anything. He was so nervous, in fact, that he asked me to listen to him do a final read-through an hour before, upstairs, in his bedroom. With the door locked. At the end, he couldn’t quite get the words out without crying. I’ve never seen him cry before, either. I almost laughed. You’ll be fine, I lied, gave him a hug, and we went downstairs, back to the marquee and the one hundred and thirty-odd waiting guests.
Things started off fine. First, he read out some messages from people who couldn’t be there, and it was funny (“Hi Jake… Hm. Bit weird”). Then he began the main speech, talking about all the things he could mention about his old brother… but won’t. His shoes, his hair, his soul patch. There was even a toast to the soul patch. Again, very funny. After that he talked about all the jobs Ben had had over the years and how he’d basically been fired from them all and/or caused the companies to fold… and it was during this part that things started to go awry. Like, spectacularly. Because for some reason, he decided to turn the focus of the speech to himself, about how well his suit fitted, and how good his hair looked, and so on. He returned to these themes later, without warning, and he made jokes about his own jokes—the ones he’d just made—and commented on whether or not he thought they had worked. At one point he told a crying kid to shut up. (He claims he said “chill out”, but whatever). People didn’t really know what to make of it, which made it even funnier.
The whole time, I watched and listened from the back, loving every minute, like I was watching and listening to a member of my own family. Which I was. When he came to the serious part—a genuinely heartfelt tribute to his big brother, who had taught him to snowboard and helped him through some pretty tough times, but adding that he never takes life too seriously in spite of how tough things get—my heart soared, and I willed him on as he struggled to keep it together.
Afterwards, I couldn’t help but think: that’s how to do it. That’s how to deliver a wedding speech. Okay, so he ballsed up the ending a bit, repeated himself a couple of times, and went on for about twenty minutes too long, but for all its imperfections it was all absolutely glorious.
So, here’s to you Jakey. Good job. And congratulations once again to Ben and Tahlia. You guys rock.