Thank You And Good Night!

There's a lot to be thankful for at a wedding. If you're one of the happy couple, be thankful you've found the love of your life. If you're Mum and Dad, be thankful to see your children happy. If you're the wedding planner, be thankful that it's almost over! If you're a guest, be thankful for the free food and the bar tab… but not too thankful for the latter - nobody wants their first dance remembered for you hurling from the sidelines.

But besides the general tone of joy and thankfulness, if you're the Best Man, the Groom or the Father of the Bride, then etiquette requires that some very specific thank yous are squeezed into your wedding speech.

Specifically, both the Groom and the Father of the Bride are required to thank the bridesmaids for their part in the big day. In return, the Best Man is expected to accept and respond to those thank yous on their behalf, in the course of his speech.

Of course, these are things that can be wrapped up very quickly indeed, with any number of variations on "thanks for all of your support" and "don't they look lovely?", but it would be a shame to let the opportunity pass, when there is a chance to inject a little fun into the proceedings.

First things first, though. Here's a warning that hopefully not many of you will need. There is a fine line between paying a compliment and being plain creepy. Yes, the bridesmaids are likely to score pretty highly on the hot-omometer today. And it's not just fine, it's positively expected for you to say something nice. But keep it the right side of lecherous. The Best Man has a little leeway in this regard, but only a little. The bridesmaids are not his personal harem. Some or all of them may have their own partners in the crowd. So show respect. If you do decide to play the red-blooded male card, make sure the focus of your joke is self-deprecating, and does not objectify the bridesmaids. This gag, for example, is a total no-no:

  1. My thanks to the Dave on behalf of the bridesmaids for his kind words about how wonderful they all look. But hands off, Dave! You've got yours! Leave some for the rest of us.

But by shifting the focus slightly, you can render it suitable while keeping a touch of bawdiness that won't trouble even the most prudish guest:

  1. My thanks to Dave on behalf of the bridesmaids for his kind words about how wonderful they all look. But that's your lot now, Dave. It's only fair that us single guys get a look in.

Or how about this joke, again, making the Best Man himself the butt of the punchline:

  1. How fantastic are our bridesmaids today? They look amazing, and they performed their role to perfection. As I was walking past them earlier and I heard them all talking about who will get to have the first dance with the best man later. "You!" "No! You!" "No way!" It was all very touching. Not one of them wanted to see their friends miss out. At least, that's how I'm reading it.

If you're the Groom or the Father of the Bride, you have to tread even more carefully. At a marriage celebration, the sight of the Bride's new husband or dad leering over her best friends is not a good look. But if you have an understanding partner who's game for a laugh, you can still sneak a little humour into the mix without upsetting anyone. Again, the golden rule is to make yourself the focus of the joke. Provided you come off looking weaker than the other players in your set up, the gag is sound. Here's one that can work for both the Groom and his new father-in-law, tweaked as necessary:

  1. It's my job to pay compliments to the bridesmaids, and I'd love to be able to say how beautiful they all look today… but Janice hasn't let me look at another woman since 1982, on pain of death, so the best I can do is hazard a guess. I'm sure you all look lovely… though not, I am obliged to add, as lovely as Janice.

And, speaking of formidable women, we'll A groom acknowledges the services of the bridesmaidleave you with this clip of a Groom's speech that pays tribute to the Bride's best friend. She doesn't sound like a bridesmaid to be messed with!