Project Example: Wedding Speech

This is a good example of common translation pitfalls – a humorous speech which was made at a wedding. Since the bride’s parents only spoke German and the speech was made in English a German translation of the text was necessary. Many thanks to Paul Reeves for allowing us to include his brilliant “Best Man’s Speech” here. Those who read both languages can compare the two versions and will quickly realise how many of the tricky phrases and wordplays would have completely lost their meaning in a literal translation. Not only that, they wouldn’t be funny anymore and that really is the point isn’t it? Even if you don’t read both languages the one you can read will certainly entertain you!

Feedback from the client

Shortly after the wedding I received this email from Paul:

Hey there Johanne,
glad you received the payment ok.. marvels of modern technology never ceases to amaze me… Thank you so much for your fantastic job! Her German parents were absolutely delighted and laughed the whole way through my speech they really thought it was hilarious.. well they looked like it.. but we all had alot to drink 🙂 The day was absolutely perfect.. a real fairy tale church wedding, amazing dress, flowers, bridesmaids.. flower girls.. rolls royce.. a vintage bus to ferry guests to reception a string quartet playing classical music.. and some funny speeches:) ..absolutely fantastic.. one of the best days of my life and the bride and groom loved every minute of it!! The rain even stopped and the sun came out briefly for the photos outside the church..perfect!

Thanks again for the translation it really made a difference in making absolutely everything as good as it possibly could be… Cheers!

Best wishes and kind regards

Wedding Speech - a speech to remember


By Paul Reeves

1: Before I begin, I Would like to offer a warm welcome to our many guests from Germany who are here today.

In particular I’d like to say hello to Anja’s close family, Karl, Christa and Markus. Hello! How are you all?

If you could please open your brown envelopes…there is a full translation of my speech into German for you. I have many stories about Marc to tell… and I want to make sure you understand all of them… unlike Marc… who’d very much like you to not understand any of them!!

2: Well good afternoon everybody, my name is Paul and I’m the Best Man for today. For those who don’t know me I’m Marc’s older, more handsome, more gifted and definitely more modest brother!

I must admit to being rather nervous and apprehensive about today’s speech, in fact to put my nerves about speaking here today into perspective, this is actually the 5th time this afternoon that I have risen from a warm seat with a piece of paper in my hand!

Also, as it’s a family occasion, the last thing I want to do is cause offence by talking in too much detail about Marc’s colourful past. I have therefore decided to edit out anything that might be offensive to anyone present here today. So Ladies and Gentlemen. If I could I ask you to join me in a toast..

To Marc and Anja!

Thank you very much for coming… it’s been a real pleasure.


Ha just joking. The oldies are the goodies!

3: As you might guess I know Marc very well, I’ve known him for a very long time… Some 29 years and 59 days… Not that I’m counting… its flown by… So I guess we’ve had a lot of fun. I first met my brother in Edenbridge, shortly after he was born. I can’t remember exactly when…I was very small myself…Marc, however, was even smaller and significantly balder and more wrinkly than me…er about the exact opposite of today! Of course being Marc’s older brother, I’ve watched him grow from a small baby. I’ve seen him crawl around on the floor, dribble everywhere, wet himself and vomit all over the place. But we’ll talk more about his 18th birthday party later…

4: Marc was a very good little boy when he was at school, being head boy at primary school and also a prefect, later on. He was very well behaved, always did what he was told and just kept himself to himself. Apparently he was so quiet in lessons, often it was as if he wasn’t there… and often… he wasn’t there…

It wasn’t until Marc changed secondary school’s that he developed an aversion to homework, a smoking habit, and numerous detentions followed – most memorably for setting fire to a fellow student in the Chemistry lab! But I have many happy memories of us growing up together, like us riding BMXs, driving go-karts and mopeds, going to scouts and fishing, which is where we met many of the friends that are still around and indeed in this room today.

5: We’ve all got many fond memories of Marc during our early teenage years, who could forget all the times when we went night fishing, caught no fish but drank a lot of snake bite and special brew…well actually probably all of us could forget it.. we drank rather a lot! But on one occasion I do remember Marc over did it somewhat and ended up sitting in the middle of a camp fire smoking ‘Herta’ frankfurters!

On another occasion, at the age of 13, a few friends came round to my house whilst my mother was at work. The Customary ‘emptying the drinks cabinet of whisky and gin’ took place, and resulted in Marc turning into a big girls blouse sobbing his poor drunken heart out and cowering under the bed clothes…Some things never change…

6: During his school years, Marc showed much promise out on the sports field. He was very much into sport at school and he was an excellent rugby player and runner. There was even talk amongst the teachers of him turning pro. Unfortunately, after leaving school his professional sports career never took off. It seems the distraction of pubs being open from 11 in the morning was just too much…

As well as being a sportsman Marc was also musically gifted, taking piano lessons at this time. His full potential, however, was not realized until years later where he perfected the art of the playing the spoons!! I’m sure he’d now like to take this opportunity to demonstrate his skills? Maybe later!!

From school, Marc went to College where he learnt among other things, how to skive tutorials by driving to Hastings with his mates to blow all their dinner money on cigarettes and gambling fruit machines.

7: After College, Marc moved into the world of work and he’s had a few different jobs over the years. Marc is no stranger to work. He started his working life – and career of earning beer money – by being a ball boy at our local golf club, where he picked up golf balls in front of the driving range. He also doubled up conveniently as a moving organic target. Never did any one work harder for 1.50 an hour…

8: Marc also worked at Sainsbury’s supermarket for a while, pushing trolleys around and chatting up old ladies on the checkout, normally whilst stinking of booze and suffering his normal Sunday morning hangover. Having proved himself as a reliable trustworthy intelligent and clear thinking young man, he was promoted to checkout supervisor, where in an alcoholic haze he proceeded to lose thousands of pounds of takings by misplacing them in a neighbouring competitors shopping trolley. Luckily, the money was found. His supervisory position however, was lost!

9: These days Marc works for Land Rover as a workshop service advisor. His role involves providing customers with quotes for work that has to be done to their car. The second part of his role is explaining why the cost has suddenly shot up… when they come to collect their car.

10: Away from work Marc has many hobbies and interests. He loves anything that is likely to involve serious risk of dismemberment or at the very least a painful death. Marc loves extreme sports such as snowboarding, spear fishing, motocross biking, and go karting – anything that involves danger and an element of risk – Marc really loves it. But he’s not alone in this. Anja also enjoys doing things that are daring, risky and dangerous… marrying Marc for example…

11:: For many years marc has also been fanatical about cars and motorcycles, playing with engines from an early age, inspired by both his father and grandfather. At first his obsession was harmless and quiet as the engines were made out of Technic Lego… Life was peaceful and safe for the Reeves family. However, As he grew older, he progressed to modify moped engines on our parent’s driveway. The result… a spectacular exploding fireball that filled our entire porch! It was an experience for me and my mother as we dived for safety. All of our cars were singed – along with Marc’s eyebrows. Oh how we laughed… as we ran for a hosepipe…

He also enjoyed crashing his max powered up cars as a teenager, and much to the alarm of our neighbours, is now planning to build a race car and crash them professionally! Prior to being put on the straight and narrow by Anja’s arrival, Marc used to be a boy racer. As a teenager he owned 2 Ford Escorts, the first of which he crashed into a rather expensive telegraph pole, which, according to his insurance claim ‘came out of nowhere and jumped out at him!’ The second was rolled spectacularly end over end killing a poor young hedge, destroying both the car and the unsuspecting flora and fauna.

12: Yes, crashing, blowing up, and sometimes just driving cars are a big part of my brother’s life. Marc currently drives a silver Landrover Freelander sport… like just about everyone around these parts. Currently Marc is planning to build a real life race car, presumably so that he can continue to crash cars… this time professionally!

13: Marc never let his motoring disasters get him down though – he’s always been the sort of person who likes a laugh on a night out with the lads. In fact prior to the arrival of the lovely Anja, his favourite hobby was romancing a young bubbly lady, cool and curvy… name of Stella Artois! This Past time involved Marc drinking himself in to a coma, preferably as far as way from home as possible and allowing his beloved beer buddies to carry his inanimate carcass home… How we laughed as our shoulders buckled under the strain of 16 stone of dribbling booze monkey! So for sparing our aging backs from this burden I’d like to now thank you Anja with a quick toast from all of his mates… cheers Anja! However, one good thing to come from Marc following the healthy English tradition of drinking to excess is that there is a veritable banquet of tasty and amusing anecdotes and stories I could tell…as the Sussex arms in Tunbridge Wells, The Thirst and Last in and will tell…tales from pubs such Hildenborough, the Swan in Edenbridge and the Greyhound in Hever.. I’m sure all Marc’s many friends here today will agree we’ve had a lot of good tanked up times.

14: Take for example, the night he and his good friend Ashley were walking home from the pub. They decided to embark on a beer fuelled treasure hunt and were delighted to find some flashing road works lamps. They then thought it would be entertaining to climb a bus shelter, put the lamps down their pants and parade there new ‘Great Balls of fire’! They were literally flashing at everyone! There friends all thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

15: Unfortunately the local police didn’t agree – they didn’t find it funny at all – and a night in the slammer followed. But I won’t talk about Marc’s various scrapes with the police now – you can all ask him about them later. I’m quite sure Anja’s parents will be…

16: Nor will I talk about all Marc’s many other amusing drunken antics.. I won’t mention the time he back flipped off a barstool and carpet burned his forehead, The time he fell asleep on a chip shop hotplate and incinerated his chin. I wouldn’t dream of mentioning the occasion he climbed a 20ft stack of palettes, got to the top and somewhat unsurprisingly fell off breaking both his feet…And I haven’t time to tell you how he crashed his motorbike into a car on a holiday to Greece… Unfortunately the car belonged to the head magistrate of Corfu and he wasn’t a very happy man.

Anway, you shouldn’t listen to me, I’m his brother, I’m biased, so let’s hear what his friends and colleagues have to say!

17: Instead, let’s move on to the moment that Marc first met Anja, because obviously that was the start of something wonderful, and that’s why we’re all here today. When you get to know Anja, one of the things that you discover is that she passionately loves her 2 little boys…don’t worry Karl and Krista…its not the pitter patter of tiny feet…well actually it is… I’m referring to her cats… her beloved Waltar and Cyril! Cyril had a bad foot the other day and Anja was beside herself with worry whisking the poor meowing moggy to the vets in the middle of the night. I think I it would be safe to say that she’d be the first person to come to the aid of some poor hopeless creature… and that’s why we’re all here today!!

18: Of course today really is a marriage made in Heaven. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll also find that it’s also a marriage made in the basement of the Pitcher and Piano bar in Tunbridge Wells. It was there that Anja and Marc first met and exchanged phone numbers. But I was talking to Anja about this recently, and I asked her what it was that first attracted her to Marc. Was it his wholesome good looks? Maybe his smooth talking charismatic charm? Apparently not, she said he was extremely funny and very kind to her. Which if nothing else tells us that the drinks they serve in this bar must have been very strong indeed…

19: Anyway, from this moment onwards let’s just say that Marc let his hands and fingers do all the talking…literally…he sent a barrage of text messages arranging numerous dates and romantic picnics.

20: The moment Marc proposed to Anja was also very romantic. It was whilst they were away on holiday together on the Greek Island of Sciathos and Marc asked Anja to become his wife over a romantic meal. Apparently it was a very moving and emotional moment, and after saying ‘YES’ to Marc’s proposal, Anja had tears in her eyes. Which is very understandable… I think if I’d just agreed to marry Marc… I’d want to cry too!!

21: It is important in any marriage that there should always be a decision maker in the couple, and I think it’s fair to say that in Marc and Anja’s relationship, Anja is the boss. I‘m sure Marc will disagree and insist that he’s the one who wears the trousers at home. And he does… but Anja tells him which ones to wear…

22:Anyway it’s almost time for me to finish now, but I would like to end my speech by saying that it’s been a great day today, and I’m sure it will be a great night tonight. I’d also like to wish the happy couple a fantastic time on their island hopping honeymoon in Thailand. But let us remember that we are here today to celebrate the marriage of Anja and Marc, who earlier today married for better for worse. Marc couldn’t have done any better, and Anja certainly couldn’t have done any…er… better either…

23: Seriously though – Marc’s been a fantastic bigger little brother to me over the years, giving me so many happy memories, and he’s helped me out countless times, fixing my car and the occasional broken heart and I’m so happy that he’s found such a fantastic girl like Anja who just looks stunning today – as I knew she would. Marc and Anja have a wonderful future ahead of them…and they deserve all the happiness in the world.

24: At the risk of sounding a little sentimental I’d like to quote a few lines from one of their favourite films:

“Love Is A Many Splendored Thing,

Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong,

All You Need Is Love”

“The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn…Is Just To Love, And Be Loved in Return”

I really well truly believe that Anja and Marc have been lucky enough to find this..

25: So Ladies and Gentleman, if I could I ask you to stand and raise your glasses –to the new Mr and Mrs Reeves – to Marc and Anja…

((TAKE A DRINK)) Thank You!

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