When it comes to wedding speeches, the pressure is on as guests look forward to a tongue-in-cheek walk down memory lane, reminiscing about the couples lives together coupled with the odd embarrassing story about the groom. The two main factors for a great wedding toast are humour and heart. Each as important as the other, it is crucial to find the right balance between heartfelt joy for the couple and a good dose of humour to keep the audience entertained. Follow our top tips below for a speech which is sure to captivate your audience.
Opening Image: Jenna Bechtholt Photography
Practice makes perfect
Confidence is what really sells a speech, even though you may be quaking in your shiny dress shoes you need to stand up and own the room. For those with a distinct fear of public speaking, our advice is to fake it to make it. Preparation is essential here and practice can only increase your confidence so practice, practice, practice!
Make it personal
Include a series of personal anecdotes, if you are tasked with a speech then that means you have been chosen as one of the bride or grooms closest friends and family, draw on your relationship with them and include tales which show the true nature of your relationship and best demonstrate the character of the bride or groom. Do try and avoid any inside jokes though which can alienate the rest of the room.
Stay away from Google
Do not churn out the guts of a speech which could be heard at any old wedding. Anything you print off Google will be disjointed and sloppy. Don’t be lazy and put the effort in for a personalised toast which comes from the heart. A good place to start is to create a mind map on a piece of paper, place your subject at the centre with the main topics placed along the branches and hash out the contents of your speech from there.
Keep it short and sweet
A speech is like a story, it should have a beginning, middle and end. Depending on your role (groom, best man, father of the bride), your speech will have a different purpose which we address below. Don’t go off course or you will lose your audience, five minutes is plenty. As the saying goes, a good speech is like a mini skirt, short enough to keep it interesting, but long enough to cover the essentials.
Don’t overdo it on the thank you’s
There are a lot of thank you’s at weddings, some guests even choose to place a bet on the number of these to pass the time. While it is important to include everybody, try not to overlap on these over the various speeches, guests will just get bored. The essentials from the groom are to thank everybody for coming, particularly those who had to travel from further afield, and most importantly, both sets of families.
Know your limits
While it is important to be funny, remember that you are speaking in front of a large group of people so avoid any controversy or offence and be sensible in your jokes. A tip is to always, always flatter the bride and gently tease the groom. Remember family members are listening in so keep any unsavoury anecdotes to yourself, no matter how hilarious you find them.
Having all eyes on you as you deliver your speech can be nerve-wracking and have you reaching for a bit of liquid courage but resist the temptation. There is nothing worse than a drunk best man who thinks he’s a riot and is unwilling to hand over the microphone. Don’t risk becoming a little loose-lipped and saying something which you could regret, you have the rest of the night to enjoy yourself. Keep a limit of two drinks maximum if you are struggling to resist.
While you may want to deliver the best toast in the history of weddings, it is important to still be yourself. If you start using language which you aren’t familiar with then it will appear stiff and unnatural. Let your speech flow and avoid it being too formal, it will be more heartfelt and genuine if you are comfortable and yourself.
Have a strong finish to your speech and ensure you look up and make eye contact with the audience. If you trail off, guests may not be aware the speech has come to an end so a strong punchy finish is advised. Guests will remember the end of the speech best so be confident and well-rehearsed in delivering it.
Thank everybody for coming, most importantly both sets of parents, regardless of whether they contributed or not. Remember to compliment your bride and reiterate your love for this woman, you can counterbalance all the soppiness with some humour elsewhere in the speech but for your wedding toast, it is imperative that you boast to the room about how lucky you are to have found the woman of your dreams.
The Best Man
Don’t go on and on, this is not your day. The purpose of your speech is to flatter the bride and tease the groom in a friendly manner. You don’t need to dive into a long list of thank you’s, just be funny and friendly and everything will run smoothly. Don’t be offensive and for every joke just ask yourself, will the grandmothers find this funny? If not, you are advised to omit this. Avoid any mention of ex’s or any crude jokes, the last thing you want to do is embarrass or upset the couple in front of all their friends and family.
Father of the Bride
Your role is to wish health and happiness to the newlyweds and to welcome your new son or daughter into the family while sharing some kind words about your child. As the father of the bride you will surely have endless funny anecdotes about your daughter growing up, work one of these into your speech and relate it to the couple and their relationship now.
These are just the traditional members of the wedding party to give a speech but don’t feel confined to this, if the bride or maid of honour wants to make a speech, add it to the agenda – it is your day after all!