The Gettysburg Address lasted 2 minutes, twenty two seconds. Ronald Reagan’s 1986 State of the Union Address was 31 minutes. The average valedictorian speech is between 5-20 minutes, on average. My best man’s speech, 20 minutes.
The wedding ceremony was low key, an all you can eat bull roast in a Knights of Columbus Hall. It was attended by about 150 people, all firemen. My husband and I had been in the Fire Department for about 12 years, so it was only fitting to invite our extended “family” of firefighters. We planned on a quick ceremony right at the hall, followed by all you can eat and drink after the best man and maid of honor spoke; easy, short and fun.
Or so we thought.
When the best man stood to give the address, we were alerted to the possibility of a firefighter riot as he pulled a notepad out of his pocket. We all laughed uneasily as he shuffled pages around before speaking. I do not recall everything he said; my eyes glazed over somewhere between “I have known the groom for 10 years” and “When he first became potty trained…”
If you want to see a fireman in distress, keep his beer and sandwich out of his reach. I suspect there was unauthorized nibbling going on, and was pretty sure I heard swallowing. Perhaps that was the only way they could stay awake through the speech. I noted a few of them brandishing their butter knives in a very threatening manner; others were face down snoring in the soup bowls. The DJ was debating playing God Save The Queen or some other pithy song to revive the masses.
I believe I still have an entire wedding photo album full of nothing but pictures of the best man’s speech. Several photographers ran out to their cars for additional film.
For myself, I planned our first child, where she would go to college, my retirement, and even started thinking of funeral arrangements; the best man’s, not mine. I do not think any one has applauded the ending of a speech more since, “This is one small step for man.”
It became a long standing joke among us all; the best man’s speech was truly longer than our ceremony.
When the maid of honor stood and took the microphone, in a shaky voice she said, “I love you guys so much. Good luck.” She became the most popular woman at the ceremony; people still rave about her speech all these years later. I was never prouder of my own fair sex than at that moment.
I have been to many weddings, done many Electric Slides, and heard many best men speak. I do no believe I have ever heard one quite as long as the presentation at my wedding. His heart was in the right place, I suppose; the right place for a salad fork flung from the audience.
It was a wonderful day, and while I joke about it, I was touched by his words. The therapist says I am really making strides now.