You know, it's funny - funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha; when it comes to wedding speeches, everybody knows that humour is the most powerful weapon in the best man's arsenal, and yet that lesson seems to be entirely lost on the groom. No one ever said the best man has a monopoly on jokes. And isn't a 'good sense of humour' always at the top of the list when women are asked what they look for in a partner (right above good farting etiquette and financial solvency)?
The very fact that you're getting married suggests that on your wedding day there will be at least one person in the room who thinks you're a scream. As for the rest of your audience, they're what a comedian would call a perfect crowd; happy, friendly, and keen to see you do well. So go for it! Break out the funnies, and see if you can get a big laugh. Better now, at the reception, than later, in the honeymoon suite.
That said, of course, there are certain dos and don'ts to consider and pitfalls to avoid…
DO poke fun at yourself. There can be no malice in self-deprecating humour. There's nobody to offend except yourself. So show the room you can take it as good as you give, with a playful dig at your own shortcomings. Here's a gag that playfully paints the groom as a bit of a wastrel. It's a solid bet, so to speak, for most speakers, but maybe one to avoid if you have a history of problem gambling:
"We were planning to get married in 2010 but there was a sudden fall in a big investment I'd made … at the final hurdle of the Grand National."
Or how about this witty groom, who targets himself beautfully, even as he praises his parents, and still manages to take Dad down with him…
DON'T poke fun at the bride. I really shouldn't have to tell you this, but any humour directed at your new wife should be of the laughing with not laughing at variety. So, if your pet name for her is Mrs Squirrelchops, go ahead and share. The jokes on both of you if the audience finds it funny. But if it's Lady Lardylegs keep it to yourself, even if the point you're trying to make is that she's slimmed down beautifully for the big day.
DO take a good-natured swipe at the institution of marriage. After fifty years together, you may find that gags about 'doing less time for murder' rub your partner up the wrong way. But at this end of your journey, it'll be taken for granted that you're only poking fun. Half the room will be comprised of married couples, and the rest of them have parents and families. It's universal stuff that everyone can let off steam with.
"You have to think of marriage like a poker game. You start out with two good hearts and a diamond. But there are bound to be times when all you want are a big club... and a spade."
DON'T upset the oldies! Your audience is intergenerational. As such, they may have wildly differing ideas of what constitutes acceptable language and humour. So to avoid trouble altogether, ditch the blue jokes and keep it clean. That doesn't mean you can't be a little cheeky:
"I made a list of all the reasons I wanted to marry Linda. Kindness is on here… and generosity… her taste in music is a bonus… but top of the list is a bum like two boiled eggs wrapped in a hanky'... what can I say? These things matter!"
There are jokes for every conceivable situation in our database, and many of them can be tailored to fit a groom's needs. Provided you stick to the advice above, you don't have to let the best man get all the belly laughs. Raid his arsenal and give him some competition!