Unaccustomed as I am
A best man's speech can make or break a wedding.
Our expert's ten-point plan will ensure your big day isn't ruined
It's the most important day of your life - you're the bride. Still glowing form the vows, with the cake uncut and the champagne still bubbling in every glass, you stand by as your new husband's closest friend stands up ... and immediately you sense disaster.
First of all, to quieten his nerves, he's been at the champagne. Secondly, you've just remembered that amusing little incident involving you and two rugby players in Stockton seven years ago. Thirdly ... he's just remembered it too ... "Jennifer's been a bit of a girl in her time", he begins, with ghastly inevitability, "and one night in Stockton..."
Several old aunties at the back of the room faint, your parents blanch and your husband is mentally calculating the cost of an early divorce.
Really, choosing a best man is almost more important than choosing a husband. The combination of champagne, nerves, inexperience and indiscretion makes the best man's speech into a ten minute minefield in which many marriages have been, if not destroyed, severely maimed.
As best man to some friends in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant dredges up the speech from hell. "Apparently Paula new that Piers had slept with her younger sister before I mentioned it", he explains cheerily "but the fact that he had slept with her mother came as a surprise".
But such disasters also occur in real life. England captain David Platt put his name in lights among the worlds best men when he jollied things along at a friends wedding by listing the groom's previous girlfriends - along with his choice of contraceptives - and claiming he had a sexual disease...
When he hears these stories, Graham Davies groans and nods. As one of Britain's wittiest after dinner speakers, paid up to i??2,500 a turn, he also offers coaching lessons to best men, at the slightly lesser rate of i??400 to i??1000.
A 32 year old barrister, who's baby face conceals a stiletto wit ("see what happens when cousins marry" he retorted to one heckler at a men-only dinner), Graham will stop at nothing to ensure his clients shine. He even suggested beta blockers to calm on nervous best man. They worked, but made the poor chap impotent for a week. "Just as well it wasn't the bridegroom", says Graham.
Fortunately, Grahams golden rules for speechmaking are a lot less dramatic: