Writing a speech for a wedding can be one of the most nerve-wracking things you’ll ever do, especially if public speaking isn’t one of your strong points. Standing up and speaking in front of a crowd of people is difficult enough, but how on earth do you decide what you’re going to say?
This guide will talk you through the process of writing a great wedding speech, whether you’re the best man, groom, father of the bride, or someone else entirely. We’ll share our top tips on crafting and executing your speech perfectly, so that you can ‘wow’ the wedding guests rather than boring them (and avoid embarrassing yourself)!
Tips for a Great Wedding Speech
Before we look at each speech individually, we’ll start with some general tips for writing and performing your wedding speech. Regardless of the role you’re playing in the wedding party, these tips will apply to you!
• Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t try and write your speech the week before the wedding. Get started on it as early as possible – it may take more time than you think.
• Don’t read from a script. While you can (and should) plan what you’re going to say, it’s best to memorise it by heart. Reading from a script on the day will make your speech come across as stiff, awkward, and unnatural.
• Instead, hold a small cue-card with bullet-points mentioning your main topics. That way, you can remind yourself of what to say next, but it’ll still sound natural.
• Read your speech aloud in front of others before the big day (except, of course, the bride and groom). Get others’ opinions to help you decide what to cut out, and what to keep.
• Practise, practise, practise. Keep rehearing your speech aloud to yourself until you’ve memorised it and are no longer tripping over your words.
• Be aware of the time. No speech should exceed 8 minutes. Time your speech while reading from the cue-card, rather than the entire script.
• Save the heavy drinking for after the speech. By all means, have a drink or two to ‘loosen up’, but getting drunk beforehand is a recipe for disaster.
Now we’ll share some specific advice for each of the most common wedding speeches, starting with the father of the bride’s speech.
The Father of the Bride’s Speech
At a traditional wedding, the father of the bride is the first person to make a speech. This is because, usually, the father of the bride acts as the ‘host’ and has contributed financially to the wedding. The father of the bride kicks off the speeches during or after the wedding breakfast (usually after the main course, or after dessert – but always before the cutting of the cake).
The purpose of the father of the bride’s speech is to welcome and thank the guests, and toast the bride and groom. It’s not the father of the bride’s job to act as comedian – his speech should be more serious (but not too stiff; a sprinkling of humour is fine).
Don’t be tempted to hide your feelings. It’s a wedding, after all – it’s perfectly okay to be emotional or even to shed a tear!
1) Welcome the Guests
The most important part of the father of the groom’s speech is to welcome the guests. This is how you should start your speech. You should also thank everybody for attending, and mention some highlights of the day so far.
2) Include Heartfelt Anecdotes
Share some heart-warming anecdotes and memoirs about the bride’s life (from both her childhood and her adult life). Talk about what kind of person she is - you raised her, after all! If you can share any anecdotes which involve the groom, even better.
3) Avoid Embarrassing the Bride
While sharing stories about the bride is encouraged, don’t embarrass her. This isn’t the time to talk about embarrassing potty-training incidents, share photographs from her teenage ‘emo’ stage, or mention her ex-partners.
4) Acknowledge the Present and Future
When you’ve finished talking about the past, bring everyone back to the present. Welcome the groom into your family, and thank the bride’s new in-laws. Finish off by praising the couple, and imparting some words of wisdom for the future (but don’t bring up future children, as this can be a sensitive topic). Finally, lead a toast to the bride and groom.
The Groom’s Speech
After the father of the bride’s speech, the groom’s speech traditionally comes next. Start off by thanking your new father-in-law for the toast, and his heart-warming speech.
The job of the groom’s speech is to thank people specifically for their help with the wedding, and praise your new bride. Some grooms also use this opportunity to give out gifts for the wedding party, though most people prefer to do this before the wedding (to avoid boring the guests).
1) Keep it Light
Yes, weddings are formal occasions – but the groom’s speech shouldn’t be too serious or stuffy. The father of the bride’s speech should be the most formal, whereas the best man’s speech is the comic relief – yours should be somewhere in the middle. Keep it light-hearted, and you’ll feel less nervous.
2) Thank Everyone Individually
The father of the bride thanked the guests for coming, but it’s the groom’s job to thank specific members of the wedding party for their hard work (and others who have helped out). Start by thanking the father of the bride for his speech, then follow with the bride’s and groom’s parents, bridesmaids, best man, ushers, flower girl and page boy.
3) Focus on Your New Spouse Last
The second half of your speech should be dedicated to your new bride. Don’t get too personal, but it’s a wedding, so don’t afraid to be sappy. Compliment her in as many ways as you wish, and thank her for being a part of your life. Finish with a toast to the bride.
The Best Man’s Speech
The best man’s speech always comes last. Usually, this is straight after the groom’s speech (unless there are any non-traditional speeches taking place, such as a maid of honour’s speech).
Not everyone at the wedding will know who the best man is, so start off by introducing yourself – but make this brief (the speech shouldn’t be about you).
Your job as the best man is to make the audience giggle (after all, people may be starting to get bored with speeches, and will appreciate some humour). You should also thank both sets of parents again, and compliment the bridesmaids and the happy couple.
1) Focus on the Bride and Groom’s Relationship
Many best men think that it’s their job to share story after story about the groom. However, while you can certainly share a few anecdotes about the groom, you should try to keep your speech focused on the couple. Tell stories involving the both of them, such as how they met.
2) Add Humour
A best man’s speech should be funny, if possible – so include a few jokes here and there. However, try to avoid making in-jokes that few people in the audience will understand. And if humour doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t try to force it – it’s okay to take the ‘aww’ approach instead.
3) Be Appropriate
Be funny, but don’t be crude. Remember that you are speaking in front of the bride and groom’s entire family, including their parents and grandparents. Avoid telling inappropriate stories or making references to sex. And definitely don’t bring up any of the groom’s ex-girlfriends.
4) Don’t be Afraid to Get Heartfelt
Yes, the best man’s speech should be funny and light-hearted – but don’t be afraid to get a little heartfelt, especially towards the end of the speech. Talk about how happy you are that the bride and groom found each other, and how perfect they are together. It’s okay to be mushy at a wedding!
5) Keep It Short
As previously mentioned, the best man’s speech comes last of all – so by now, the wedding guests are probably starting to get a little restless. It’s important for the best man’s speech to be short and speech. Aim for your speech to last no longer than 5 minutes, and finish up with a final toast to the bride and groom.