I don’t drink, and as someone who normally lacks self-confidence I’ve always been somewhat reserved when it comes to social gatherings, and even family get-togethers can be quite intimidating. So it will come as no surprise that my Dad’s wedding was shaping up to be a nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was his Best Man and had to stand up and make a speech.
The big day started off well with us getting out the house on time and en-route to Bridge of Earn, where I would be performing my well-practiced taxi-driver routine getting all the girls into town for their hair appointments, before heading up to the venue myself to calm my Dad’s last minute nerves and get changed into my kilt outfit.
Everyone seemed very relaxed, including me, which is quite abnormal. The old me would have been a quivering, nervous wreck who didn’t want to speak to anyone – let alone stand up in front of a room-full of gathered family, friends and freeloaders. But it appeared that the new me was looking forward to the day ahead, seeing family that I hadn’t seen for far too long, and confident to stand tall and proud beside my Dad.
I didn’t really need any proof, but I guess this was the first real-life confirmation that losing all that weight over the past 7 months has changed me much more than just from a purely gravitational perspective. I think, just maybe, that this is what being happy feels like.
It was however slightly embarrassing that everyone who knew the old me was amazed and shocked how well I looked – but the compliments and positive remarks kept me from thinking about my duties of the day, and I was able to actually enjoy it. For the first time, I felt like an equal, with enough self-confidence not to stand out, but to blend in.
I can honestly say that I didn’t think about my speech until we were piped to the top table. Despite the fact that my Dad thought I wasn’t going to say anything at all other than a brief toast, I had prepared a slightly longer speech. The new me did want to say how happy I was for him and wish him and his new wife Norma a long, healthy and happy future together, and I didn’t want to mess it up.
On the day, I can’t say it wasn’t a surreal situation to find myself in being my Dad’s Best Man, but I was amongst family and friends – both new and old – who all felt the same way as I did, and I also took comfort knowing that my chosen few paragraphs were thoughtful, sincere, appropriate and honest. There would be no character assassination or smutty, embarrassing stories in my Best Man speech.
Then the Guardian of the Bride, Kenny, stood up and delivered – albeit quietly – what I thought was a great speech, which included a bit of humour and had a warm response from the guests. I was immediately worried that I hadn’t included anything that would raise a laugh in my speech, although I was hoping for smiles rather than yawns.
Next up, was the groom, and my Dad’s speech was really good. He projected his voice, kept his nerves in check – although I could see his kilt shaking throughout – and managed to say all his thank you’s without a single stumble. At least I think he did, because I had realised it was my turn next, and I am reliably informed by my wife who had a very clear view of me from table 1, that all colour drained from my face around about this point in the proceedings.
I could feel my heart beating, but thankfully it wasn’t pounding out of my chest as the applause for my Dad dwindled and the M.C. said those words that I was both dreading and looking forward to – “and now, I give you, the Best Man”. I was pleasantly surprised that I remembered to breathe, and whilst I was going to count to 10, I only managed to get to 4 before I found myself on my feet.
I had gone over and over this moment in my head for weeks. When driving to work, pounding the pavements or riding my bike, the words I was about to say had come out my mouth many times before, except this time, it was for real. I deployed my secret weapon, visualised the happy end and began speaking. “I’d just like to start….”
The secret weapon was, of course, my iPhone. Patiently sitting silent up to this point, I unlocked it to a simple Keynote Presentation running on slide 1. I referred to it more often than I expected I would, but was thankful to have my “iPrompts” to keep me right.
In the end, I got through my speech – thankfully without changing accent or stumbling once – and am reliably informed by the bar staff at the back of the function suite that I was heard clearly, and sounded very natural. It didn’t feel natural to be standing up speaking, but I felt proud and privileged to be where I was, at my Dad’s right hand side. I’ll skip quickly over the fact that I almost couldn’t lift my glass and nearly spilled my drink through an uncontrollable dose of the shakes as I said the toast itself, because everyone was smiling at the end. I think.
I was complimented on what I actually said many times during the course of the reception, but most importantly for me, my speech evoked the emotional response from my Dad that I had hoped for, and a comforting nod and smile from my wife when I gave here the “did I do OK?” look from the top table.
No, I don’t want to do it again, but if I ever do have to make another speech, I’ll make sure I have my trusty secret weapon with me again.