It’s traditional for speeches to be given at the wedding reception. The father of
the bride should give his speech first, followed by the groom’s speech, and finally
the best man’s speech.
The father of the bride, by tradition, is the one who pays for the wedding. Therefore
he speaks first, welcomes his guests, says a few loving words about his daughter
and makes appropriately positive comments about his new son-in-law.
The groom’s speech is given on behalf of the groom and his new wife. The groom thanks
the various people who have helped with the wedding, and adds some personal and loving
comments about his new wife.
In reality, the situation is often more delicate - perhaps the father of the groom
has paid for the wedding, for example - so if necessary discuss it with your fiancee
and use your judgment.
Writing your speech
The groom’s speech is in many ways the easiest of the three main speeches. Many grooms
get away with a list of thank yous and a few comments about how beautiful their wife
looks and how happy they are. That’s not too bad, but aim higher if you can. Consider
building your speech around the following structure:
Thank your new father-in-law for his speech.
Tell the story of how you first met your wife. What attracted you to her? How did
the first date go? It’s normally pretty easy to get a laugh in here somewhere. If
that’s not going to work, then how about the story of how you proposed?
Thank your in-laws for welcoming you into their family. Think of a couple of positive
things to say about them. It only needs to be a sentence or two. Remember too that
you are speaking on behalf of your wife. Thank them for bringing her up to be the
fantastic woman you are marrying today.
If your wife has brothers or sisters, mention them too, and thank them.
Thank your own parents for bringing you up. If they were good parents, then think
about why they were good parents, and try to explain it in a couple of sentences.
You are not aiming to nauseate the audience with sentimental rubbish, but you are
aiming to make your mother cry (in a nice way). Give it some thought.
Add in any other special thank-yous needed (for example, the ushers). It’s impossible
to thank each and every person who helps with a wedding in the groom’s speech, so
don’t try. Your audience will get bored. But do pick out the important ones.
Talk about your wife. You really need to think about this. Why are you marrying
her? What do you love about her? Try to sum it up in three or four sentences. Avoid
sentimental drivel that sounds like the inside of a Valentine’s Day card - anyone
can write that. But talk from the heart. The aim here is to make your wife cry
(in a nice way).
Thank the bridesmaids, comment on how great they’re looking, and then propose a toast
to them. Toasting the bridesmaids is an expected part of the groom’s speech, so
The purpose of a best man’s speech is, strictly, to introduce the groom to the bride’s
family and friends and to highlight his many excellent qualities. However, in modern
times, guests will expect a bit of light-hearted ribbing as well.
Sometimes additional speeches will be given. The three most common are: chief bridesmaid,
the bride herself and the father of the groom. A traditionalist would say that none
of these are necessary if the customary speeches are given: it’s the job of the father
of the bride to speak about the bride, not a bridesmaid; the groom’s speech is given
on behalf of both the groom and his wife, so the bride need not speak as well; and
the best man speaks about the groom, so there is no need for a speech from the father
of the groom.
If you stick to this format then by the end of your speech you’ll have made them
laugh, you’ll have made them cry, and you’ll be finished inside about eight minutes,
which is about right for a groom’s speech.
Delivering your speech
Here’s some top tips for delivering your speech:
Avoid using a microphone if you possibly can. Speaking into a mike can be distracting
if you are not used to it, and it’s more difficult than it looks. Many couples rely
on their DJ to supply a mike for the speeches which makes matters even worse - DJ
mikes are specially designed not to cause feedback and have to be held very close
to the mouth. The best bet is to forget mikes and concentrate on your delivery.
Speak loudly and clearly and address the back of the room. If need be, visit the
venue in advance and check out the acoustics for yourself. Get your fiancee to stand
on one side of the room while you stand on the other side. Have a conversation.
Take note of how loudly you need to speak in order to be heard.
Make sure you have a table in front of you when you deliver your speech. In most
cases this is easy to arrange because you will be giving speeches either immediately
before or immediately after the meal. However, don’t be tempted to deliver your
speech from a location where you are “naked” before the audience. Even experienced
politicians dislike doing this, which is why they use podiums. Stand behind something
- you will feel a lot calmer.
Put your notes on small cards, not a big sheet of paper. Even if you don’t get nervous
when delivering your speech, the adrenaline will probably be flowing and this can
make your hands shake. If you are holding a big sheet of paper, this shaking will
be very noticeable and distracting for your audience. Write your notes on index cards,
and punch a hole in the top left corner. Then tie them all together with a treasury
tag. This means there is no chance of them being out of order when you come to deliver
your speech. It also means that if you drop the cards (and grooms have done this
before) they won’t spill across the floor. If you want to save yourself a bit of
effort, Confetti.com sell ready-made speech cards which are held together in the
corner with a metal ring.
Before you stand up to deliver your speech, make sure you have a glass of water to
hand in case you need to clear your throat. You also need to have a glass of champagne
to hand, because most groom’s speeches involve a toast to the bridesmaids. A lot
of wedding speakers get to the toast and then find they’ve got nothing to toast with.
Check before you start.
To propose a toast, just say “Ladies and Gentleman, will you please be upstanding
and raise your glasses…” then pause, wait for everyone to stand up, raise your glass
and say “…to the bridesmaids”. Make the last bit as loud as you can because there
will still be the odd scraping chair from people who are slow to rise. The audience
repeats “the bridesmaids”, takes a sip, and then sits down. You can then carry on.
Remember, everyone’s willing you to do well. Enjoy it.
Thank your best man, say what a great guy he is, and hand over to the best man. This
is another place where you can get an easy laugh. For example: “X is a great guy,
but the only slight drawback is that he does live in a bit of a parallel universe
which causes him to invent fanciful stories. He really does believe these stories
to be true and I thank you for humouring him during his speech”. Then sit down to
rapturous applause and keep your fingers crossed that your best man goes easy on