The mere thought of standing in front of friends and family and making a speech is enough to send a shiver up the spine of many grooms and Best Men (believe me….I’ve done both and I’m used to using a microphone!).
But, what should you say and how should you write your speech?
Whilst there are plenty of books available online about exactly this subject, I thought I’d share some of the knowledge I’ve gained from over 30 years of wedding entertainment experience.
And believe me in that time I’ve seen a LOT of speeches: the good, the bad and the very ugly!
How hard can it be?
With a little forward planning, it’s actually not too difficult!
A top tip – even I as a wedding DJ and host script most of the things I say so that I don’t trip over my words at an inconvenient moment….and I’ve been doing this for years!
Plan what you’re going to say, say it slowly and clearly and you really won’t go far wrong….trust me!
Here are my tips for delivering the perfect speech
- Prepare early. Don’t leave it until the last moment to write your speech. It’s really not something that’s going to go away if you ignore it!
- What do you want to say? Write bullet points down to begin with and put the meat on the bones once you’ve got the gist of your speech. For instance if you’re the groom, you’re going to want to thank the father of the bride (or groom if it’s a same sex union), thank the bridesmaids or attendants, say something nice about your new spouse (don’t forget that bit!), and possibly mention anyone else who has made the day what it is.
- It’s tempting to try to be funny, and this can be very dangerous territory. If you’re naturally humorous, fill your boots. If you’re not, think several times about including jokes, especially if they’re on the blue side.
- Know who your guests are. This is easier if you’re the groom and possibly not so easy if you’re the Best Man. Will bad language offend? Will risque jokes cause embarrassment to the guests or even worse, the rest of your new family?
- Practice, practice, practice! It sounds obvious, but once you’ve written the speech, read it out loud! Record it and play it back. Read it to friends. Practice makes perfect – it’s why actors spend hours rehearsing their lines.
- On the day – don’t drink too much before you make your speech. A little Dutch Courage may seem like a good idea, but there’s really nothing worse than a speech which is delivered with slurred words.
- And now the important one – speak SLOWLY! Don’t rush your speech because you’ll trip over your words or even worse, not be understood by the guests. If using a microphone remember that if you think you’re talking slow then your guests will understand what you’re saying!
- On the subject of using microphones, don’t make the mistake that most speakers do of moving your head around, holding the mic down at chest level or moving the microphone around. Ideally the microphone should be a couple of inches below your mouth and stay in line with it (a microphone isn’t very good at picking up your voice if you’re not talking directly into it!)
- If you’re lucky enough to elicit laughter or a round of applause…..wait for it to die down before continuing.
Yes, it can be nerve-wracking especially if you’re not used to speaking publicly. Yes, it can feel like everyone’s watching you (and indeed, they normally are!). But take it from someone who’s seen a LOT of wedding speeches, it’s never as bad as you think it is!
Who says what?
With modern weddings, a lot of the “traditional” speeches are a long-gone formality. These days it’s not unusual for the bride and any other member of the bridal party to make a speech.
Don’t get too hung up on who says what and when!
It’s YOUR day and if you want to do things a little differently, that’s completely up to you as a couple. It’s completely normal nowadays to shun the traditional way of doing things and I’m more than happy to help you with whatever you decide to do!
The “traditional” way of doing things for those interested though is:
Father of the bride
The proudest man of the day!
- Welcomes everyone to the reception
- Tells a few heartfelt stories about his daughter when growing up (these can really provoke smiles and tears in the same sentence!)
- Congratulates his daughter on her choice of husband
- Welcomes his new son-in-law to the family
At the end of his speech, the father of the bride will traditionally raise a toast to “The Bride and Groom”
The happiest man in the world!
It’s tempting as the groom to crack a couple of jokes and sometimes it works IF you know your guests really well.
It’s even been know for grooms to “roast” the Best Man (never a good idea….they’re up next!)
However, the groom’s speech is traditionally about giving thanks to:
- His new Father-in-law for his toast
- Guests for coming, and makes mention of those who have maybe travelled long distances to be there
- The brides parents for the reception and their generosity (traditionally, the brides parents pay for the reception)
- His own parents for their love and support in raising him.
- The Best Man for his support during the day
- His new wife for the happiest day of his life!
- The attendants such as Ushers, ring bearers, bridesmaids
It’s also traditional for the groom to hand out gifts to the mothers (usually a bouquet of flowers), the bridesmaids and the other attendants.
At the end of the speech, the groom then traditionally raises a toast to “The Bridesmaids”
The Best Man
I’ve stood at the back of wedding venues and enjoyed many a Best Man’s speech! I look forward to them….A LOT!
There is a LOT of expectation riding on the Best Man’s speech.
It doesn’t have to be witty – I’ve witnessed many a Best Man’s speech which is full of emotion instead and has brought tears to the eyes of everyone (including me!), listening.
Some are very sensible affairs, others are like something from a gentleman’s club. The trick to the Best Man’s speech is judging the audience and delivering any jokes with perfect timing.
Traditionally the Best Man should:
- Thank the groom for his toast to the bridesmaids
- Read out messages from absent friends (in the old days….these were Telegrams!)
And now the traditional “roasting”
- Point out some of the groom’s strengths and weaknesses
- Relate funny stories about the groom which won’t cause too much shame or embarrassment on his special day (for instance….don’t go into details of ex-girlfriends etc.)
- Talk about the bride in glowing terms
- Raise a toast to “The Bride & Groom”
Did that help?
Hopefully this post has been useful.
I’m not going to tell you what to say in your speech – that’s for you to decide! But hopefully I’ve been able to give you just a little direction into what to say during your wedding speech and how best to say it.