I’ve been raised to believe that a gentleman is sincere, eloquent, and well-prepared.
The Best Man’s Speech
A SPECIAL OCCASION
Tuxedos, dresses & fine food
Family & friends from afar
Groom’s biggest day
WHAT IT SHOULD DO
Communicate brotherly love
Honor the groom and bride
Encourage the audience
WHAT IT SHOULD NOT DO
Roast the groom
Embarrass the bride
My Brother’s Context
A strong young man, surprised by cancer, but unyielding in his pursuit of life.
Recently married to the love of his life. I had the honor of being a best man and giving a speech and toast at the reception.
Can I have your attention please? Just for a few moments, a few minutes.
I’m Nick’s younger brother, and it’s my honor to share a few words and a toast. But first I’d like to thank our many guests, the families and friends who have come from near or far. Your presence here tonight honors Nick and Victoria and confirms their union.
And might I say this is a real wedding. Nick and Victoria probably couldn’t see it, but from where I was standing during the ceremony, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. And all of you can go home tonight and update your Facebook and Twitter with something along the lines of,
“Today I saw more clearly what true love is.”
I especially want to thank Nick and Victoria, our hosts. You guys have put so much thought into crafting the most special evening, from the butterflies, to the elements of the ceremony, to this amazing venue. We’re just so grateful, we’re all so grateful. And please join me in expressing our gratitude. [Applause]
Well, being Nick’s younger brother, I have known him my entire life; he has been a part of every minute. I’ve seen him do some pretty amazing things. I’ve seen him break school records on the track. In fact Coach G reminded me just this morning Nick was a state champion decathlete. I’ve seen him get into his favorite school–cue the CU table [applause]–on an athletic scholarship none the less. And I’ve seen him use his incredibly creative mind and his business sense to pursue his dream and create a lifestyle business.
Not that many of you actually know precisely what Nick does for a living, or when his birthday is, or what his middle name is, or a half dozen other secrets that he has kept pretty much his entire life. I guess you can say that of Nick’s many qualities, he has an aura of mystery about him that makes him all the more fascinating.
What I’d like to do, in case you are wondering more about Nick, I’d like to describe him using the main characters of the movies we watched the most growing up. And we watched these movies over and over; they shaped us.
Nick has the mystery and the talent of Roy Hobbs; he has the loving loyalty of William Wallace, and he has the stubborn endurance of Rocky Balboa.
And while I’ve seen Nick achieve amazing things, you know, these last three years, I’ve seen some pretty tragic things too. I’ve seen him lose his muscle to a seemingly invisible foe. I’ve seen him walk through the depths of human misery, experiencing a lifetime worth of pain in three years. It makes me cry. And yet I have never seen him give up. I was talking with Bob just the other day and we agreed: we’ve never even heard him complain about this.
I’m so proud of you.
And I will not know in this lifetime why Nick’s life has taken such a tragic turn, but, by no mistake of God’s design, he has not had to walk through this ordeal alone. His best friend has been by his side every step of the way, sharing his burden.
Now Nick and Victoria have been dating for almost exactly six years, and for the first three or so my family has known Victoria mainly as Nick’s girlfriend. And she seemed like the perfect fit for him: they share a common sense of clever frugality, they have a sentimentality for things that is expressed mainly through little surprises of thoughtfulness, and they share a love for God, and Colorado, and BD’s Mongolian Grill. (I do too).
But in these last three years, my family has more endearingly referred to Victoria as an angel. In part because she has, you know, come into Nick’s life at just the right time and clearly she’s just the right person; but moreover,
without her dedicated love and untold sacrifice, Nick would probably not be alive today.
I should also commend Victoria’s family, whose support and sacrifice has been great. They have done nothing but welcome Nick from the very beginning.
Victoria, you love unconditionally, selflessly, relentlessly.
It’s a love that honors both of our families and the one who has given us life and love. I am so proud of you. I can’t imagine a better person for my brother to share the rest of his life with, and I speak on behalf of both my family and, I’m sure, Victoria’s family in saying that you carry forward in this marriage our full blessing.
You’re decision to love despite seemingly impossible circumstances, it will be your greatest and your hardest life’s work. Seeing that love firsthand, it reminds me of something I read many years ago by an Austrian writer named Rainer Maria Rilke. He said that,
“It is also good to love, because love is difficult. When one human being loves another, that is, perhaps, the most difficult thing entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.”
Nick and Victoria, your love, which you vowed today, will be your greatest work, will be your legacy. It will refine you, and it will change us. In seeing it we are inspired to do greater things and be bolder. In hearing their story we’re certainly encouraged to get up again and again when life’s trials knock us down. And in reading through the heartfelt comments on Nick and Victoria’s Endurance Fund website, it’s clear that in some way you are strengthening our faith, bringing us closer to God through prayer.
As many of you know, Nick and Victoria are getting on a plane tomorrow for Boston. They’re flying out to see if Nick is eligible for some potentially life-saving treatments at Harvard. And as I see my brother pressing on, with the love of his life, into this next chapter of their story, I can’t help but think of Tennyson’s Ulysses, who returned from the Trojan war an aged and tired king. And yet, instead of standing still and clinging to the comforts of life, he chose to press on to new adventures, with his closest companions. He addressed his mariners with these words, which I think are powerfully fitting. He said,
“for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Please raise your glasses in a toast:
Nick and Victoria, may God’s love shine through you everyday to be your compass, your strength, and your legacy. Indeed, shine on my brother, with your beautiful copilot, and may your love be legendary.