Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
For those of you who who don’t know me, my name is Mark and I am the best man. Feel free to say hello at the bar later on.
Before I start, if there's anybody here who's feeling a little nervous and apprehensive, it's probably because you've just been married to Matt.
I would like to join Matt in thanking the bridesmaids for firstly performing their role so gracefully, and for looking fantastic throughout the day. I think you'll agree that they complement the bride beautifully, who looks stunning today. In particular I'd like to thank the gorgeous Libby, who made sure that Nicola went against her better judgement and actually turned up at the church today! Thanks also to the ushers who have done a great job, um, ushering... people.
It was a few months ago now that Matt asked me to be his best man. I'm not quite sure what that says about his decision-making skills. But it's been a great honour to play this role today.
To help me in my duties I managed to find a best man's checklist which I brought with me
today. To prove it hasn't all been fun and games I'd like to read it to you:
Help the groom dress. Thanks but no. if he hasn't learnt by now...
Ensure that he gets to the church on time, sober, and smart. Well here he is. Two out of three isn't bad.
Bring a bag with the following items for emergencies. Aspirin, antacid, deodorant and of course a small bottle of Jack Daniels. Yeah, I'm afraid I finished most of that a minute ago when I realised how many people were here...
Make a speech to the bride and groom.
Hear that? To the bride and groom. Does that mention 150 guests? No! I should be in a nice little room with Matt and Nicola and maybe a cup of tea right now. But here I am talking to - let's face it - a mob of speech-crashers! I was going to ask you all go and stand outside until I'd finished, but then Matt pointed out a much better punishment is to make you sit here and listen to me!
The key is to find a best man who is resourceful, energetic, diplomatic, yada yada yada. I don't know what happened to this guy, but it's clear Matt was in a tight spot so it's just as well I was around to help him out.
I've known Matt for almost 10 years now and it is an honour to call him my friend. In fact it was such an honour [Hold up a piece of paper] that Matt gave me a list of nice things I could say about him in my speech. So, let's dispatch these straight away [screw up piece of paper and throw it away] and get down to business!
What can I tell you about Matthew? Well, the name comes from Hebrew and means 'Gift of God'. After sharing an office with Matt for six months I can confirm that there is indeed something of the divine about him - he makes up his own rules and it's a miracle if he does any work!
Actually it was a miracle that either of us did any work through school and later sixth form college. When I look back, we were forever leaving science twenty minutes early to get the tennis courts first, or sneaking out of PE and running clear across town just to add fifteen minutes to our break time. This focus on fitness continued through college, where we would run several miles a day together - just far enough to get to the Maccy D's and the games arcade in our spare periods! It remains a matter of pride that we were able to walk into a lesson half way through carrying fries and a big mac to be greeted with nothing more than "Oh, it's you two again" from our teacher.
Oddly, it wasn't our slack approach to timekeeping that got us into the most trouble at school. We composed legendary limmericks and rhymes about classmates and friends, and it was with typical tact and aplomb that Matt and I found ourselves explaining one such work of art to the headteacher not three weeks after I joined school. Sadly Matt has made me promise not to include any of these poems in my speech, so if you want to know the full version of 'In the little town of Dudley, there lived a fine young lass' you'll have to buy me a drink at the bar later on!
Throughout our friendship Matt has shown many fine qualities that will do him credit in his marriage to Nicola. I first encountered his fearless and selfless nature while we were racing down a hill on our bikes one summers afternoon. "The problem is", yelled Matt, "that I can skid to the right but not to the left - watch this!" and with that he grabbed the brakes, jerked his handlebars to the left and flung himself face first into the tarmac road. This sort of thing impresses a kid, so I pulled up along side him and tried to help him up - but he's yelling at me to leave him in the road and get his bike before it was run over! Nicola, I'm sure that Matt loves you even more than he loved that bike - so you'll always be safe in his company!
I should warn you though, this man makes the WORST flan I have EVER tasted. He was visiting me at uni and we thought we could make ourselves a huge dessert and spend the rest of the day eating it, so Matt suggests making strawberry flan. "It's dead easy", he says, "I've made loads before". So we get a flan base from Tesco's and start on the topping - mixing this and stirring that, and I admit I wasn't paying much attention until I noticed Matt adding jug after jug of water, claiming it was "a bit dry". Anyway, one thing led to another and TWO FULL DAYS later it still hadn't set, so we ate soggy flan base with little rubbery bits of fruit for about ten minutes before chucking the whole lot in the bin.
If Matt has one flaw, other than his inability to make flan, it's impatience. I'm not the most patient man myself so when we went skiing with college we spent less than an hour with the rest of the class in the beginners group before sneaking off and riding the lift to the top of the slope. It was quite late in the season and it wasn't long before we found ourselves standing at the top of a steep, straight slope that was ENTIRELY made of ice. You chucked a stone at it and it just slid all the way down the bottom then disappeared over the brow of another drop. We had NO idea what was down there. We looked at each other, looked at the lift, looked at each other and started to pick our way down it, skidding down from one patch of snow to the next. About a third of the way down we stopped for a rest just before it got steeper and then heard this screaming from up the hill. One of our classmates had followed us up the lifts and clearly hadn't caught on to the idea of controlled descent. Back straight, legs wide apart, ski poles waving in the air they came shooting past us in serious trouble. I turned to say something to Matt but he wasn't there - he was already half way down the slope, crouched down low doing his best ski-sunday impression and already gaining on the out-of-control lunatic. He's always claimed he was trying to catch up and pull them down before they hit a tree, I still think he just couldn't stand the thought of someone else getting to the bottom before he did!
I'm not sure if this can be described as "healthy" competition, but it's been a running theme between Matt and I for as long as I can remember. It's sad, really, that it's taken him this long to finally admit that I am the Best Man.
As I said before, being best man involves a lot of work before the wedding day itself but for me it has been a blessing in disguise. These last few months I've spent a lot of time with Matt and Nicola as a couple and it's been really good fun. When Matt first told me he was going to marry Nicola a small part of me worried that maybe things would change and we wouldn't stay such good friends any more, but getting to know Nicola has turned that on its head - instead of losing a friend I'm gaining another! Matt, deciding to marry Nicola is the best thing you've ever done. In Nicola you have found someone beautiful, smart, funny, loving and caring. And Nicola, you have found... well, you've found Matt. It's just as well you're trained in child care - you'll be used to dealing with tantrums and bad behaviour on a daily basis!
Like all wives, you should know that husbands are like fine wine: they start out as grapes and it's your job to stamp on them in the dark until they mature into something that you would like to have dinner with!
A moment of seriousness now. Nicola, if I can ask you to place your left hand flat on the table? Now Matt, place your right hand directly on top of Nicola's. Matt, take a deep breath and look at me: this is the last time that you will ever have the upper hand!
But Matt - it's worth it. You are a lucky man to have married Nicola today - she's sweet and thoughtful and deserves a good husband. Thank goodness you married her before she found one.
On behalf of the bride and groom, I'd like to thank everyone here for sharing their day, particularly those who have travelled long distances. On behalf of myself, I wish you'd all stayed at home because things would have been much easier on me. It gives me immense pleasure (not to mention relief) to invite you all to stand [pause] and raise your glasses [raise glass] in a toast to the bride and groom - the new Mr and Mrs Smith. We wish them well for the future, and hope they enjoy a long, happy, and fruitful marriage. To Matt and Nicola!
Now for the moment we've ALL been waiting for, the cutting of the cake! Over to you two...