Writing and giving a speech at a wedding can be a daunting task. The person giving the speech may be a relative or close friend of the married couple, with every good intent and with a wish to convey their best wishes publicly, but when it comes to addressing the speech itself there is still the hesitance about what to say and how to say it.
Most wedding speeches follow tradition and so will contain some elements that are expected from that particular speaker. For example, the Father Of The Bride will be expected to welcome his new son-in-law to the family, the Groom will be expected to pay compliments to his new bride and the Best Man will be expected to propose a toast to the bride and groom. But how do you structure a good wedding speech? Having the privilege of being one of the speakers at a wedding is a great honour, so we've put together some information and advice for putting together a balanced wedding speech.
Just like any other form of presentation, a good speech will have a clear beginning, middle and conclusion. Unlike many other speeches, the wedding speech often has some obligation that the speaker must include within the speech. If you're the groom, your speech will probably be in response to the toast proposed by the father of the bride, so one of the obligations would be to thank him on behalf of your new wife and yourself, before continuing with the rest of what you have prepared. Likewise, the best man will be expected to thank the groom for his toast to the bridesmaids, etc. etc.
The average wedding speech is expected to last for about seven minutes, so you can break down this time into the different sections of the speech that you will give. Your wedding speech can be broken down into the three sections of beginning (two minutes), middle (four minutes) and end (one minute). This will make planning your wedding speech easier and a less-daunting task.
Some people have been known to agonise over their opening remarks when they are preparing a wedding speech. The simplest approach to beginning the wedding speech is to say 'hello' to the guests and deal with the obligatory items that are expect of you. By the time you have completed this small task, your audience will have accepted you and your initial adrenalin surge should have subsided!
If the wedding breakfast is taking place in the afternoon, you may wish to start your speech with, "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen." It's not complicated is it? It's courteous, straightforward and avoids anything that you may 'trip over'. Following your greeting (which will have gained the guest's attention), you can then deal with the more formal aspects of the duty of your speech.
The main content of your wedding speech should last for about four minutes. Bear in mind that a speech lasting any longer than a total of ten minutes (middle content of seven minutes), however entertaining, will lose the attention of the audience.
The main content of your speech should be created from your personal feelings and experiences with the bride and / or groom. You may wish to include appropriate reminiscences, snippets of little-known (good) facts about the bride or groom, their personalities, perhaps a story from the past that the guests will find interesting or amusing. If you have encouraging advice for the future that you would like to impart and share with everyone else, then include it in your wedding speech. If you genuinely are struggling for enough content or information to fill about four minutes of your time, then ask someone you know, who is associated with the bride or groom in some way, and build into your speech what you have learned. (If you are writing a wedding speech as the best man, there is further helpful advice on our Best Man's Wedding Speech page.) Just let your personal thoughts and feelings guide you through writing your speech for the wedding, after all you're just telling the bride and groom publicly what you would want to say to them personally.
There are a few prohibited subjects that you should never include when writing a wedding speech. Under no circumstances, however funny, poignant or justifiable you may think it could be, should you ever mention ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends or past relationships. Any references that may create the impression that either of the married couple may drink too much, be involved with any kind of drugs, is lazy or of loose moral character should not be included as a part of your speech - however true or well known those facts may be! Although a few light hearted remarks are acceptable, the bride and groom are not there to be made fun of, so avoid any embarrassment or sustained jokes aimed at the newly married couple.
You will need to find a comfortable way of rounding off your speech and sitting down. We estimate that this should be done within about a minute of time - so you don't need anything elaborate. If the speeches are following the traditional order, each speaker will conclude by proposing a toast as their final remarks (we've detailed this below for the main speakers).
After you have covered the personal points that you want to include in your speech, you can end it with a simple comment to the bride and groom, followed by proposing the correct toast. A comment like your personal blessing to the bride and groom, an appropriate quote from literature or the bible, an amusing quote that you have found about weddings or married life, etc. Follow this with your toast:
Proposing the toast should be clear and straightforward. Use your own form of words if you find that more comfortable, or simply say "Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in toasting the health and good fortune of [name]", turn to face the person you're toasting, raise your glass, pause for everyone else to join you…… take a sip from your glass and be seated!
It's not so scary is it?
Good luck, we know you can do it admirably.
The fear of public speaking is called glossophobia (or, informally, "stage fright"). It is believed to be the single most common phobia - affecting as much as 75% of the population. With the right preparation, you will easily overcome it and feel a whole lot better by having done so.
Writing the speeches to be given by the father of the bride, groom and best man. Wedding speeches should be personal and unique. The speech given at a wedding should come from personal experience and be given from the heart. They follow an accepted format by tradition and can be split into three separate parts, thus making the speech easier to compose and flowing better in the presentation to the guests at the wedding reception.
Wedding speeches can include humour and draw on personal anecdotes concerning the bride or groom (or both), but the level of restraint in the content needs to be reflective of the couple's wishes and of the wide range of guests present - humour should not sacrifice respect and good taste in any wedding speech.
The speeches should cover the formal requirements of each speaker, include personal experiences and - only if you feel comfortable - an element of light humour or anecdotes. Each speech should conclude with an appropriate toast. Information on weddings, speeches, father of the bride speech, best man speech, groom speech, and all things preparing for the wedding breakfast speeches.