How to Write Your Wedding Speech
Wedding Speeches are one of the essential parts of a wedding day. They give a couple and their families a chance to publicly thank those that helped them during their life and with the wedding day. I have seen down through the years some magnificent speeches that were heartwarming, emotional and entertaining. I have also seen some car crash ones where everybody was cringing for the speaker. I am writing this blog post to help people to avoid that nightmare scenario!
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We’ve seen our fair share of delightful and disastrous wedding speeches, and now you’ve been given the honour of making a toast at your best friend’s wedding. Whether or not you are a natural public speaker, we’ve rounded up some tips for you to share your joy with the couple while leaving the guests mesmerized instead of wondering when it will be over.
The maid of honour and best man are typically childhood friends, roommates from college or family members. Not only do they play an essential role during the ceremony, but these honorary individuals can also expect to give one memorable and crowd-pleasing wedding toast at the reception. From organizing your thoughts to practicing delivery, the wedding planners at the Manor share simple tips and tricks to ensure your toast goes off without a hitch.
I went to a wedding a few weeks ago and had the opportunity to listen to at least seven different speeches given by the family and friends of the happy couple. The content of all the statements was great — all were very heartfelt and warm and written from a place of sincere caring for the couple.
Being asked to deliver a wedding speech can feel equal parts humbling and terrifying! Not only is there the daunting thought of speaking in front of a crowd, there’s also the overwhelming task of writing a memorable speech that ticks all the right boxes, from humorous to heartfelt. No pressure, right?!
A few general tips first for all speakers.
Please note these are only guidelines and can be adapted by you to suit your wedding day. Sometimes the bride may want to say a few words as well or instead of the Groom. I have also often seen the mother of the bride and Groom speak instead of the father. Please remember on your wedding day you decide what happens regarding speeches and no one should be forced to do something they don’t want to do.
Our expert on the subject, David Marcotte of Ovation Communication, teaches presentation skills like it’s his job (it is) and has spoken at no less than eight weddings. We’ve broken down our interview with him into two sections: general tips and structuring the speech.
Writing Your Wedding Speech
Gather Your Material
Now that the etiquette guidelines have been set, it’s time to start crafting your speech! Staring at a blank page can be seriously intimidating, so we recommend taking the pressure off and using a brainstorming session to get those creative juices flowing instead.
He then would move on to the bride’s parents and family and mention how welcoming they were to him. You could mention the kind words the father said earlier.
Then he would thank his parents and mention how grateful for all their help and support etc. down through the years.
He then would give flowers or a gift to both mothers.
He then thanks to the groomsmen and may mention how they helped him plan his wedding or not!
GIVE A FORMAL INTRODUCTION
Begin your speech by formally introducing yourself; though one side of the family may know you, most people will not. Introducing yourself should be short, yet direct so that guests know your relationship to the Bride or Groom. Consider including a short anecdote of how you met the bride or Groom and how honoured you feel to be the maid of honour or best man. By giving a brief introduction, you establish credibility with the audience and start the toast on a strong note.
But in terms of how the speeches were delivered…well, that’s where there may have been some ‘cracks in the pavement’ for a few of them.
That’s not to say that they were terrible – not in the least! It was undeniable that each speaker truly cared for the couple.
If you’re currently trying to prepare for your wedding speech duties but feeling stuck with writer’s block, we’re here to help. From etiquette tips to wording examples, keep reading for our top tips on writing an epic wedding speech that leaves a lasting impression.
The first thing is you should write down what you are going to say if you have an opportunity to type it out, so it is crystal clear and easy to read. I have seen a lot of people struggle to understand their handwriting when the nerves kick in. By writing it down in advance, it will help you stay focused when you are nervous. It will also help you to stick to the point.
Know your audience
Not only are you addressing the bride and Groom, but you have a full guest list to entertain. Keep the stories appropriate for any grandmas or children that could be there.
SHARE A STORY
Elaborate off the introduction and add a sentimental or humorous memory you share with the Bride or Groom. While inside jokes may have deep meaning to you, it’s best to keep them to a minimum, as your audience will fail to understand and feel left out. Choose a positive story and do not poke too much fun.
And let’s be honest…it’s not easy to get up in front of a room of 300 people — many of them strangers (or even worse — people who know you well!) — and deliver a speech. So I applaud every speaker for making the decision to put their thoughts on paper, share their kind words, and having the courage to go through with it.
Add the RIGHT stories.
Everyone loves to hear stories about the Bride and Groom. But choose your accounts carefully, and make sure that they have a relevant point.
You might find it helpful to look back on old photos or even chat amongst other close friends and family members for further inspiration. Brainstorming your way through these prompts will give you the bones of a memorable, fun and personal speech, with plenty of material to work with.
Never mention Ex-Girlfriends, no matter how funny you think the story is.
Try and stay away from the cliché lines from the internet. Most people have heard them before.
Try and avoid too many stories that involve alcohol.
So what can you say! I would start and mention how you met and how long you have been friends etc.
My suggestion is to pick one or two funny, clean stories from your past.
Example: “Karen was able to learn a fully choreographed dance routine in a matter of hours, which shows what a focused, driven and talented person she is.” Make sure that the story backs up the point you’re trying to make about the person.
Speak INTO the microphone
Bring it right up to your mouth. Yes, right up there. Don’t be shy. Each sound system is different, but if the microphone is more than 2-3 inches away from your mouth, you won’t be heard very well by your audience.
On that note – some gentle teasing is lovely if that suits your relationship with the couple, but don’t paint anyone in an unflattering light. Playful humour should only be used if you’re 150% sure it will be well-received!
Being a maid of honour or best man requires both responsibility and honour during the wedding toast. You must present yourself in front of the wedding guests, but more importantly, prove your love for the couple. When delivering your speech, calm any nerves by focusing all of your energy on providing the best wedding speech and live in the moment.
How to Write a Great Wedding Speech: Etiquette Tips
Before you sit down to craft your speech, take a moment to think first about the bigger picture. Whether you’re a bridesmaid, best man or sibling, there are a few etiquette guidelines you should keep in mind to ensure your speech is memorable for all the right reasons.
Practice what you are going to say with a trusted friend. What might be funny in your head might not be that funny when you say it out loud. Time how long it takes you to read the speech. Ask them, does it cover all the essential parts? Is it too long? Is there any way that it can be improved? Don’t take the feedback personally and use it to perfect your speech and make it better.
Mindset is critical
“Toast, don’t roast,” says David. You are there to celebrate their love, not prove that you know all the embarrassing stories. This also means that inside jokes need to be kept to a minimum or shouldn’t be used at all. If you can’t get the guests to understand why it’s funny with one quick sentence, pick a different reference.
Wrap up this part of the toast by acknowledging the couple and express why you care about the couple and your friendship. By doing so, it proves sincerity while simultaneously expressing gratitude for the tight bond you share.
Some speeches were excellent, delivered loudly, clearly, and humorously. The others had some ‘issues’ that held back what could have been a better impact.
We’ve rounded up the most critical “unspoken rules” for a wedding toast below:
You don’t have to be a comedian. Nobody expects people speaking at a wedding to do stand up. Don’t feel under pressure to perform. I will expand on this point later.
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Finally, keep the wedding speech between 1 to 5 minutes. A simple wedding toast should have a few minutes of the sentiment behind it, and 5 minutes for a statement is a lot longer than you think. David reminds us, “You’re borrowing the spotlight, not trying to steal it.”
This part of the speech positively turns the story over to highlight the spouse. Begin by describing your first impression of the spouse or express the happiness your friend shared meeting them. Also, include why this significant other is the ideal match. You can also choose how to tie the wedding theme of romance and the undying love they have for one another together within your speech.
Some were difficult to hear or understand, the speaker didn’t look up from their paper, too many inside jokes and some stories shared about the couple seemed to “miss the mark,” leaving the audience awkwardly silent (and a little confused).
A great wedding speech strikes the perfect balance between sentimental and light-hearted. If your address is overly emotional and gushy, it might feel uncomfortable amongst a large crowd.
The best man introduces himself and says he is the Comparé for the night.
He then asks the Father of The Bride to speak. If he is deceased, usually another family member may speak on behalf of the family.
The Best man then introduces the Father of Groom or family member.
The Best Man then introduces the Groom
Structuring Your Wedding Speech
So how do you begin to write and structure your wedding speech? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
- Use a springboard as the starting point. A little humour or a cute story can introduce how you know the Bride or Groom. Remember, your wedding toast isn’t there to prove your friendship — you wouldn’t be talking if you weren’t friends. So keep it short and avoid listing your chronological story (“First we met in grade school, then I transferred for two years, then we were in high school but weren’t too close anymore until summer before college…”).
After talking about the bride and Groom, you can expand on your thoughts and include a sentimental feeling to become the critical takeaway point of your speech. You can consist of a metaphor to describe the couple’s love and the start of their life together. The key to choosing a metaphor involves finding an ordinary point of relation for the couple to keep in their hearts.
The great thing about all these issues, however, is that many of them could have been quickly resolved with a few small edits, and some overall greater awareness.
On the flip side, if it’s too light-hearted and silly, it might come across as disrespectful or insincere. A 50:50 ratio will ensure your speech hits the mark!
After the Groom’s speech, the groomsmen will read out some cards. Usually, the couple would pick out a few that are important to them in advance, and they use these. You generally don’t read tags of people that are actually at the wedding. It is usually for people that couldn’t travel.
Then the Bestman finishes the wedding speeches with his speech. He is usually the last person to speak at the wedding.
Get to the gooey center. This is where you can express your thoughts and well wishes to the couple. Think about the emotion you’re after and that you’re standing up there to endorse their love. You can acknowledge anyone else during this time and express your gratitude for being a part of the celebration. Check out our previous post for more ways to nail your maid of honour toast.
For example, relating the couple’s love to a rainbow, or comparing the amount of love they have for one another to the infinite amount of grains of sand on the beach, can be particularly powerful and memorable. If you choose not to include a metaphor in the wedding toast, the theme of endless love is perfect for a wedding toast.
So based on a sample size of 7 wedding speeches from 7 very different types of people, here are six tips (PLUS one make-it-or-break-it tip) to give a great wedding speech — and ensure that it’s heard, understood, and appreciated:
The sweet spot for any wedding speech is generally between 2-5 minutes. This is the perfect amount of time to deliver a meaningful address without losing the interest of guests or impacting the reception timeline.
Father of the Groom Speech
The father of the Groom’s speech is very similar to the father of the bride’s speech.
The father of the grooms’ primary role is to welcome the bride into the family. He usually mentions a funny antidote when he first met the bride and then goes on to speak about his son and how proud he is of him today. The speech lasts typically about 5mins, but I have seen shorter. He would toast the newlyweds and wish them all the best for the future.
Father of the Bride Speech
The father of the bride’s primary role is to welcome the Groom into the family. He can start with by thanking everybody for coming. He usually mentions a funny antidote when he first met the Groom and then goes on to speak about his daughter and how proud he is of her today.
Raise your glass and close your toast. It can be tempting to ramble on when nerves get the best of us. You should practice this final line for when your eyes start swelling — it will come out more naturally and end everything on a positive note. An example that works even without clinking glasses would be, “So please join me in celebrating (bride and groom) as they start this next chapter together.”
While conclusions can sometimes be the hardest part of a speech, you can simply conclude your wedding toast by joyfully wishing the couple every happiness in the world, want the couple the best, or that you hope that this is the beginning of many happy celebrations for them.
By far, the most common problems came from difficulty hearing the speakers — there was a lot of “what did he say?” going on. But there was nothing wrong with the sound system. So speakers, take note:
While funny anecdotes are a great way to personalize your speech, steer clear of any embarrassing stories (or mentions of ex-partners!) that could make anyone feel uncomfortable. Keep it clean!
He usually mentions a funny story when she was a child. The speech lasts typically about 5mins, but I have seen shorter. He doesn’t have to thank all the suppliers as the Groom will do that later as part of his speech. He would toast the newlyweds and wish them all the best for their future together.
Be sure always to address the couple to make the toast personal. Afterwards, politely instruct all guests to raise their glasses and wish the couple well as they embark on their new life together. Finally, be sure to shout out, “cheers!” For an outdoor wedding, celebrate the toast with sparklers or lanterns to add a special touch to the wedding.
Speak clearly and slowly, and don’t mumble. In person-to-person discussions, many of us speak ‘under our breath,’ meaning that our voice lowers, and we don’t say things as clearly. Just as difficult to understand are the fast talkers.
Don’t copy a speech. You found online word-for-word. Templates are an essential starting point for ideas and inspiration, but the best wedding speeches are always personalized to reflect your relationship with the couple.
The Groom’s speech at a Wedding
Groom speech usually is one of the most famous speeches of the day. It is a list of Thank You’s for the different people that helped the couple with their day and in their lives to that point.
He usually speaks on behalf of his wife, but sometimes the bride will say a few words afterwards, but it is rare.
He starts by thanking everybody for being part of their wedding day. He thanks them for travelling from far and near and for all the generous gifts. If people have gone from overseas for the wedding, they usually get a mention at this stage!
Doing so will allow the toast to be short and sweet so that guests can enjoy the moment with you. Overall, a toast should be from the heart, so the maid of honour or best man can mould the toast; however, she or he sees fit. Contact the wedding planners at The Manor for superb advice on how to give the best wedding toast. Cheers!
When we’re happy and excited, some of us tend to speak a little more quickly. While this may work with one-on-one conversations, it doesn’t when you’ve got a microphone in hand and 300 people who are straining to hear from you. So slow it down and speak clearly.
- Make sure your speech is directed at both of the newlyweds. Even though you’ll probably have a closer relationship with one half of the couple, it’s essential to address both parties instead of delivering a one-sided speech. This is their big day, after all!
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He then thanks to the hotel for the lovely food if the speeches are after the meal. He mentions the hotel wedding manager and how they were so helpful in planning the day etc.
Next, he would thank the priest(wedding ceremony facilitator) for a lovely ceremony. A few kind personal words would be great at this stage.
He would typically then thank any friends or family that helped with the day. For example, if someone drove the cars, made a cake or helped with the invites etc.
He then would thank the flower girl and page boy, and if they are going to get a gift, he will give it to them at this stage.
Make eye contact with all sides of the room when speaking. Yes, the speech is about — and FOR — the bride and Groom. But never forget that there’s a full audience listening to your speech, and they deserve to be addressed as well.
Smile, be animated and energetic and pretend you’re happy to be there (even if you’re so nervous you want to throw up). Don’t worry if you’re trembling, and your paper is shaking. You also don’t have to spend any time apologizing for being nervous.
Grab a notebook and pen and take a trip down memory lane with these helpful prompts below:
- What are your personal qualities and personality traits of the bride/groom?
- What are some examples of those traits in action?
- How did you meet both halves of the couple?
He would then thank the bridesmaid for all the help they provided the bride with the organizing of the wedding, and he would toast them.
Finally, last but certainly not least, he would thank his beautiful bride. He may, at this stage, mention how they met or a funny anecdote. He would typically toast the bride to finish his speech.
The speech should last about 10-15mins.
No one expects you to be perfect, and chance is, everyone in the audience will give you full credit for getting up there in the first place. And rest assured that many people would not be willing to give a speech. Like, ever. So just the fact that you’re doing it is a huge win.
- What was your first impression of them, and how has this evolved?
- What are your favourite memories and experiences together?
- What do you admire about their relationship?
- What makes them such a great match?
- What do you hope for them in the future?
The Best Man Speech for an Irish Wedding
The best man’s speech is usually where the statements go wrong! We have all seen weddings where the best man was trying to be funny but overstepped the mark.
My first bit of advice is don’t drink too much before you are giving your speech. Drunkenness due to nerves is the main reason things go wrong.
Be well prepared. Have it rehearsed, practiced and printed out clearly as mentioned above.