Your palms are sweaty, your throat’s dry, your heart’s beating faster and louder than a marching band – it’s quite likely then, that you’re about to give the all -important wedding speech. But before you drag your feet to the microphone like a person condemned to the gallows, take a little inspiration from our do’s and don’ts that will soon have you leaping onto the stage brimming with confidence.
The Father of the Bride’s Speech
Traditionally, the father of the bride’s speech is the first speech given. As father of the bride, it’s appropriate to welcome all the guests and thank them for attending.
– Welcome your new son-in-law, and his parents into the family
– Let your daughter know proud you are of her and how lovely she looks
– Relate a humourous anecdote about your first impression of your son-in-law
– Offer advice and well wishes to the couple
– Propose a toast to the happy couple
– Joke about polishing your shotgun or breaking bones if your new son-in-law hurts your daughter. Just remember: Threats (even in jest) + Weddings = Bad Atmosphere – no matter how protective you are of the bride.
The Father of the Groom’s Speech
Traditionally the father of the groom’s speech occurs after the father of the bride has made his speech.
– Welcome your new daughter-in-law and her parents into the family.
– State how proud you are of your son and how pleased you are to see him married to his bride.
– Tell an anecdote about your first impressions of the couple, an amusing incident involving the wedding preparations or a memorable moment during the bride and groom’s courtship.
– Give advice and well wishes to the couple.
– Propose a toast to the happy couple.
– Embarrass the bride and groom with your anecdote. At best, you’ll only get a few uneasy laughs and a whole lot of uncomfortable silence.
The Groom’s Speech
The groom’s speech usually comes next and provides him with the opportunity to respond to the wedding speeches already given by his father and father-in-law. Traditionally the groom would speak on behalf of himself and his bride. However nowadays, a bride’s speech has become commonplace also.
– Welcome all the guests, with a special mention of those who have travelled a long way to be there.
– Thank the bride’s parents for allowing you their daughter’s hand in marriage and for welcoming you into their family.
– Give appreciation of the comments made by your father and father-in-law.
– Pay tribute to your own parents.
– Acknowledge all the people involved in the wedding preparations.
– Propose a toast to the bridesmaids and acknowledge their unique role as support to your bride during the wedding and reception.
– Thank your best man and groomsmen for their role during the wedding and wedding preparations.
– Forget to thank and compliment the bride. It’s a common mistake many grooms make. Though many people need to be acknowledged for all the time and effort they’ve put into the wedding, she’s put in many hours too – especially in transforming herself into the vision of beauty that stands before you now!
The Bride’s Speech
It’s become quite common for the bride to give a speech on her wedding day, particularly if family members or close friends can not be present.
– Thank all guests for travelling to be with you for the occasion.
– Describe the feelings of the day and how happy you are to be married to your new husband.
– Thank the groom’s parents for accepting you into their family.
– Pay tribute to your own parents.
– Acknowledge the help of bridesmaids and others for their role in the wedding and preparations.
– Acknowledge anything notable said in previous speeches.
– Hog the limelight! Whilst it is your special day, the speeches aren’t supposed to be your domain.
The Best Man’s Speech
The one that everyone’s been waiting for! Usually the best man’s wedding speech is last and rounds off the formal speeches. However, the best man is often called upon to be the master of ceremonies and can sometimes be the first to toast the bride and groom also.
Traditionally the best man is either a close relative or close friend of the groom and is therefore in the unique position of having known the groom long before he met his bride. This means the speech is often the most intimate of them all. It’s usually light-hearted and fun and demonstrates his affection for the groom and happiness for the couple.
– Thank all the guests for coming (particularly if you are also acting as master of ceremonies).
– If you are a friend of the groom, describe how you met the groom and relate a funny but not too embarrassing story of the groom that others will enjoy.
– If you are a relative of the groom, describe a childhood incident or something similar which may be amusing for guests to share.
– Talk about the groom’s life, experiences and qualities.
– Describe how happy you were when the couple met and began their courtship.
– Propose a toast to the parents of the happy couple.
– To finish, read out letters and telegrams from those who were not able to attend. If there are many, read a selection.
– Get drunk. Many best men make the mistake of having a few for Dutch courage and get a little carried away. Slurring and stumbling is not attractive in a speaker.
– Relate incidents involving the groom’s past girlfriends. Nobody – especially the bride – likes to be reminded that they weren’t the only one.
Other Common Wedding Speeches:
Aside from the above wedding speeches, the respective mothers’ of the bride and groom and also the maid of honor may wish to give a speech also.
As mother of the bride, or mother of the groom, you may wish to stand with your husband while he is making his speech and add a few words of your own, finishing off by proposing a joint toast to the couple. Or you may have a full speech of your own prepared along similar lines to topics traditionally addressed by the father of the bride or father of the groom.
Similarly, as a maid of honor, it is common to make a speech similar to that of the best man but with the focus being on the bride’s qualities and experiences you have shared together.
Other Important tips:
Be mindful of your audience: There is likely to be a variety of guests from different cultural or social backgrounds and it’s important to keep this in mind when planning what you will say and the gestures that you use when delivering your speech. You may hold your palm up to stop people’s conversations and to get their attention but in Greece it’s the equivalent to giving someone ‘the finger’. A thumb’s up to an attendee of the wedding may be meant endearingly but to citizens from the Middle East, West Africa and South America it’s hideously offensive. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Refrain from swearing and keep your gestures discrete.
Make eye contact: As with all public speaking, it is effective to make regular eye contact with your audience. Making eye contact engages your audience and makes them feel involved in what you are saying. If you are using palm cards or written notes, make sure the writing is big enough to see easily. Rather than writing out the whole speech, consider writing only the main points so that your delivery feels natural and you are able to maintain regular eye contact with your audience.
Don’t rush: Speak at a normal conversational pace, or slightly slower. It is natural to speak more quickly when everyone’s attention is on you but try to resist this urge. Listeners will relax and hear you better if you speak calmly and at a steady pace.
Speak with heart: Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love and unity. Keep this in mind when you are delivering your wedding speech. If you speak with a full heart you will add to the feeling of love and auspiciousness which surrounds the occasion and your words will penetrate into the hearts of all those present.