The Speech

Last summer I witnessed a true expression of love, as my twin brother James, and his beautiful college sweetheart Tessa, exchanged vows in the company of friends and family.

Standing as best man on the day was one of the proudest moments of my life to date, and it is something that will stay in my memory forever.

It was an incredibly special day.

On reflection, and despite all the talk in the lead-up, I was feeling pretty relaxed in the role. I was even feeling excited about making the speech, which was surprising to me; public speaking was never something that I felt comfortable doing, to say the least.

My introverted self doesn’t exactly revel in those types of situations; front and centre is never a place that I would seek to operate in. You’re more likely to find me hovering around the periphery, soaking up the atmosphere, observing from a safe distance.

How or never, situations sometimes arise whereby you are asked to go against your nature, and you simply have to step up and adapt. 

It’s during these moments where our comfort is threatened, in all aspects of life, that we should seek out and embrace the discomfort; only then is magic created.

I thought I would give some tips as to how to go about preparing for the speech, seen as I came out the other side relatively unscathed.

Considering the fact that the relationship between myself and the groom is still intact, I’ll take that as a good sign that I ticked most of the boxes!

Speak from the heart, not the page..

I think people can appreciate when someone is being genuine. You should be able to speak naturally and openly about the man beside you, and about your relationship. 

Embrace and address every emotion as it arises as you are writing the speech; people can relate when they witness real human emotion being expressed. Barriers are broken as a result, and connections are made. 

Be yourself, be real. 

Be flexible..

A great piece of advice offered to me from an incredibly wise man, was that things would happen on the day that will prove too good not to include in the speech. Sure enough, some of the biggest laughs came from some funny incidents that had occurred throughout the day.

Be flexible in your approach and be willing to go (slightly) off the cuff. I was scribbling notes down the morning of, no panic.

Involve everyone..

Get your audience onside early; compliments are great for this. Remember too that many of the guests will never have met the groom, so avoid using inside jokes that nobody else will get. Involve the crowd as best you can in the material, and be sure to paint the main man in a flattering light.

A bit of slagging is important, but don’t go to town. Strike the balance.

‘Just OJ for me, thanks’..

Stay off the sauce until after the speech; it is best to stay sharp, fully present, and aware throughout. Dutch courage is a myth! By staying sober you actually keep nerves at a minimum; you can take comfort in the knowing that you are on top of your game mentally.

You will likely enjoy the experience more as a result, and moreover, the groom deserves to have the best version of you representing him.

You are making a significant contribution to a wonderfully special occasion, have fun and enjoy every minute. 

Savor the experience, and soak up the magic that unfolds throughout the day.

Love always wins.

– Morrie Schwartz

The stunning photographs from the day were shot by Tadhg Nathan, at Photographic Memory.