Making a wedding speech really isn’t such a daunting task, and you should keep telling yourself that. But if you’re feeling like calling the whole thing off at the very thought, here’s a guide to wedding speeches for any situation.
Who makes a speech?
The best man isn’t the only person expected to stand up and deliver at a wedding reception; traditionally the groom and the bride’s father also make a speech. The speeches aren’t just for men either! It’s not unusual to see a combinations of the bride, mother of the bride and chief bridesmaid also taking the mic.
How long should it be?
It is important to get the timing right as if the speech is too short it may seem rude or impersonal, but if it drags on for too long you risk boring your guests. Five minutes is usually more than enough time to get your point across and finish on a high.
When it comes to speeches there really are no set rules. However, tradition states that wedding speeches usually follow a certain order – the father of the bride begins, followed by the groom and then the best man. It is conventional to have the speeches after the meal, but you may like to get them ‘out of the way’ before sitting down for the wedding breakfast. If you do choose the more traditional route, it can work in your favour as guests will have relaxed during the meal and will be more disposed to laugh at your jokes, especially by the time it comes to the best man’s speech.
If you are planning to make a speech at the reception it is very important that you are well prepared and have spent some time writing your speech. Preparation is at the heart of a good speech and scribbling down a few words the night before the wedding is just not going to work. As soon as you know you are going to make a speech, you should be thinking about what you want to say and then start working on it at the very least, a few weeks before the wedding.
The father of the bride’s speech
Introduced by the best man or toastmaster, the father of the bride’s main purpose is to propose a toast of ‘health and happiness to the bride and bridegroom’. Before raising his glass, he would normally thank all the guests for coming, welcome the groom into his family, and share a few special words about his daughter with the audience.
The groom’s speech
The groom is usually the second person to take the floor, and should begin by thanking the father of the bride for his kind comments. This is also the perfect opportunity for the groom to thank his parents for the love, care, and support they have given him in life, along with everyone who helped organise the wedding, especially the mothers of the bride and groom. At this point bouquets of flowers may be passed to the two mothers for their efforts. Afterwards the groom should move on to thanking the guests for coming, and for their generous gifts. Finally, and most importantly, he needs to say a few carefully chosen words about his new wife. The groom can then finish his speech with a toast to the bridesmaids, congratulating them on a job well done, and presenting them with a small gift.
The best man’s speech
The best man’s speech is expected to be light-hearted, witty and humorous, but before you get carried away with funny stories about the groom you need to firstly comment on what a great day it has been so far, thank everyone who has been involved in the planning of the wedding, and then compliment the bride, groom and bridesmaids on how well they all look. Only then is it time to entertain the guests with stories of the groom’s past. There is nothing wrong with embarrassing the groom, he and all of the guests will expect you to do this, but you don’t want to humiliate him. If in doubt, leave it out!
Subjects to avoid
- Don’t mention ex-girlfriends
- Don’t mention divorce
- Don’t mention heavy drinking, drugs or fighting
- Don’t mention race or religion
- Don’t swear
- Don’t mention people who refused to attend
- Don’t mention last-minute threats to call off the wedding
- Comment on how great a day it has been
- Thank everyone who has been involved in the planning
- Compliment the bride and groom on how well they look
- Compliment the bridesmaids
- Read out texts, cards or messages from absent friends
- Finally toast the happy couple
Ten steps to a perfect speech
- When you are giving your speech always make eye-to-eye contact
- Don’t look down whilst making your speech, you will probably have notes with you, but try where possible to glance down briefly
- Don’t mumble when making your speech, always speak loudly and clearly
- Make sure to take breaths throughout your speech
- Set a pace that you want to speak at – not too fast or too slow
- Pause briefly after you make a joke to give people time to laugh, but move on swiftly afterwards
- Keep smiling
- Grab the rooms attention with an excellent opening line
- Make sure your speech has meaning
- End your speech with a toast and sit down when you have finished