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Speeches at a Wedding

About the Content

What should you say?
Is it your own wedding? A friend's wedding? Are you someone whom the bride or groom looks to as a scholarly advisor? Or are you just some wit that seems to know the right thing to say at the right time? These questions point you in a direction about what to put into your speech.

Be pointed and fairly brief.
A five minute speech is quite sufficient when addressing a fairly large group, this timeframe allows you to memorize and rehearse without too huge an effort. Too short a speech might appear rude to your audience while long speeches might put them to sleep.

Relate with your audience.
Bring up topics or events which pertain to people's experience. It's a safe bet to talk about marriage, or say something interesting about the bride and groom. Remember not to be unpleasant or to embarrass either the bride or groom.

Quotes and Jokes.
Quoting famous figures past or present can make your speech more interesting. If you decide to use a joke or two in the speech be sure to personalize it or give it a new "face" because a jaded old joke takes away from a speech.

About Style

Introduction and Closure Start out by finding an Intro and a Closure, which in this case will end with a wedding toast to the bride and groom.

Don't repeat or quote yourself If you think that you "might" have too many repeating words then it's odds-on that you do.

Keep it clear - and (fairly) clean! Try not to include obscure "insider" jokes, or confusing descriptions that will confuse your audience, causing you to lose your nerve and flaw the rest of your speech. And keep it clean... avoid any wild stuff the groom may have done in the past.

Notes or Not? You can read the speech directly from your notes. (Boring, if you don't occasionally look out at your listeners, and show them you are aware of them!) Much better just to refer to brief notes written on card, to keep you on track.

A good speaker will gain the attention of the audience from the onset, and will appear relaxed and confident. Use the moments before your speech when the audience is settling themselves to have a brief glance at your notes and to take a few calming breaths. When the noise has died down you should launch straight away into your speech, perhaps with an anecdote or witty remark so that your audience is eager to hear more. Stand with your feet slightly apart and in a relaxed position.

Also avoid using formal words, phrases and cliches as they can sound out of place and boring. Slang detracts from the importance of the occasion and do not be tempted to swear, avoid sloppy pronunciation. The F*** word is out, on such an occasion. Use your own natural voice. You should talk to your audience in the same manner that you would talk to a family friend.

About Delivery

Take it easy You do not want to rush your speech. Take it easy; there is no rush ...

Be relaxed Keep your composure. By making eye contact with the listeners, your speech has more of an impact. And smile!

Be heard "Speak to the back of the room"

 

Order of the Speeches

Each speaker is introduced by either the toast-master or the best man.

The Bride's Father Welcomes people. Says how happy he is with the couple.... Proposes a toast to the bride and groom.

The Bridegroom responds to this. Thanks his wife and her parents, and makes a toast to the bridesmaids.

The Bride may say some words on her own behalf to add to what was said in speeches 1. and 2.

Groom's Father says a word of praise for the young couple, with some kindly advice to his son.

Others (optional) If some other guests are notably good at public speaking, they may be allowed the mike.

The Best Man speaks last. He may read out any telemessages. At the end of his speech he announces the cutting of the cake.

Bride's Father's Speech

The bride's father is usually first to speak and should keep his speech fairly brief.

Checklist:

Thank the guests for coming.
How proud he is of his daughter and her choice of son-in-law.
Welcome the groom as a part of his family.
A word on the positive value of a good marriage.
Conclude by proposing a toast to the bride and groom.

Included in his speech, the bride's father can talk about the joys, trials and tribulations of raising his daughter and may include one or two anecdotes about her childhood, while not giving her any real cause for embarrassment.

The Groom's Speech

The groom replies to the toast on behalf of his bride and himself. His speech may be a little longer than that of the bride's father. He may add some witty and humorous asides, but his main task is to show appreciation to the bride and her family, and to his own parents and family; and say a sincere word of thanks to the officiating celebrant, and to all the well-wishers present at the reception.

Checklist:

Thank the bride's father for the toast - allowing him to marry his daughter - and his and his wife's generosity in hosting the wedding.
Thank the guests for attending and for their gifts.
Say something about his wife and their future together. Anecdotes may be appropriate at this point. How he met and wooed her; what persistence was needed, obstacles overcome, etc.
Thank his own parents for everything they have done for him.
Thank the officiating priest or minister, for making the ceremony thoughtful and memorable.
A special thanks to friends who have helped and supported him towards the wedding day and in particular the best man.
Finally he proposes the toast to the bridesmaids.

The Bride's Speech

As the bride, you have the most interesting role of all when it comes to the speeches. For, whereas the other main speakers - father of the bride, best man and so on - have speaking roles with huge traditions attached to them - father dotes on daughter, best man humiliates groom etc - you and your speech labour under no such burden of expectation.

This is because - although it is by no means uncommon any more - the bride's speech is still a very new development in terms of the history of wedding procedure. And that means that you still have the choice to say pretty much what you like and when you like. It's your call.

Some couples opt to stand up and speak together; others prefer to speak separately, and each address different themes (the other's family, for instance). Or you may prefer to speak after - or before - your husband, or even after the best man, as the very last speaker.

Checklist:

The content of the bride's speech is utterly flexible, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Thanks to everyone who's attending, especially long-lost friends and people who've travelled a long way.
Thanks to the people who've supported you through the stress of preparing for the wedding.
A special word about your mum, not just to thank her for her role in the wedding, but to describe your relationship with her over the years. Something nice about your father, too.
Look forward to a married life, as happy as your parents.
You could echo, in reverse, some of what your new husband has said about your relationship: how you met, your first impressions, things you liked and didn't like about him; how the relationship developed; your thoughts on love and marriage; a more personal message from you to him. (Say how happy you are, to have him as your man.)
Thank guests for all their gifts (if the groom hasn't).
It may also make more sense, if you are saying thank yous to other people, for you to thank the bridesmaids too (rather than the groom).
A popular innovation is for the bride to finish with a new toast to the guests.


Groom's Father's Speech

This is an optional speech. But if it is given, it needs to have some value as entertainment, since it's not strictly required.

Checklist:

Mainly, he welcomes the bride into the family. How happy he and his wife are, with their son's good fortune in winning such a fine bride.
He may pay some back-handed compliments to his son; how he has become very much his own man, and is still very loyal to the family.
Also, the father will find some way to say that – basically – the groom has always been a source of joy to his parents, while he was growing up.
How happy his own marriage made him, and wish that the young couple will have their full share of happiness.
Look forward to their founding a family of their own... and promise to help with baby-sitting, if required!

Others, Optional

If the couple would like to have a speech from one or more of the other guests [e.g. the mother of bride or groom; some prominent friend or relative with a known talent for public speaking,] the speaker should have agreed in advance, and should now be invited to the microphone.

The priest or minister may be invited to say a few words in addition to what has already been said at the wedding ceremony. It is at least customary for him/her to be asked to say the Grace at the start of the meal.

At some weddings, an "open microphone" session is announced, to allow any of the guests to volunteer a brief speech. This can work well, if you are very lucky, but is more likely to be either boring or chaotic! We don't recommend it!

The Best Man's Speech

The best man makes the final speech. His speech can be a little longer than the others and can include anecdotes and a few fitting jokes, taking into account his audience, which will most likely include young children and elderly relatives so keep it clean.

Checklist:

Thank the bridesmaids on behalf of the groom.
Congratulate the newly-weds.
Thank anyone who has given him particular help.
A run-down on some of the groom's amiable qualities, in a light-hearted and not too rude a tone.
Congratulate him on finding such a lovely bride.
Read out any cards and tele-messages.
Finally propose a graceful toast to the bride and groom.

(If the bride has reason to suspect that the Best Man might say embarrassing things in his speech, she might try letting him know beforehand what she feels are the acceptable limits!)

One-Liners and Wisecracks, for Wedding Speeches

If you are desperate for extra material to pad out your speech, you might build in a couple of Wisecracks from among the old chestnuts below. Hope they will be of some use!

When a man says it's a silly, childish game, it's probably something his wife can beat him at.

The brain is a wonderful thing. It never stops functioning from the time you're born until the moment you stand up to make a speech.

There are only two times in a man's life when he can't understand a woman - before marriage and after marriage.

A husband is a man who'll stick by you in all the troubles you wouldn't have had if you hadn't married him.

To love another person is to see the face of God. -- Lyric from Les Miserables

Never marry for money. Ye'll borrow it cheaper. -- Scottish Proverb

If God wanted women to understand men, football would never have been created.

A toast to your new bride who has everything a girl could want in her life, except for good taste in men!

The innkeeper loves the drunkard, but not as his own son-in-law. -- Yiddish Proverb

A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible for it really know what goes in it.

A little girl at the wedding afterwards asked her mother "Why did the bride change her mind?" "What do you mean?" said her mother. "Well, she went down the aisle with one man, and came back with another."

All marriages are happy. It's living together afterwards that is difficult.

Be tolerant of the human race. Your own family belongs to it -- and some of your spouse's family does too.

Compromise: An amiable arrangement between husband and wife whereby he agrees to let her have her own way.

Comparisons: Every mother generally hopes that her daughter will snag a better husband than she managed to do... but she's certain that her boy will never get as great a wife as his father did.

Give her two red roses, each with a note. The first note says "For the woman I love" and the second, "For my best friend."

Early on he let her know who was boss. He looked her right in the eye and clearly said, "You're the boss."

"A good husband is like a fine wine" I told my wife "he gets better with age." The next day, she locked me in the cellar.

If it weren't for marriage, men and women would have to fight with total strangers.... and most men would go on thinking they had no faults at all.

Jealousy is the only vice that gives no pleasure.

Marital Freedom: The liberty that allows a husband to do exactly that which his wife pleases.

Mother-in-law: A woman who can destroy her son-in-law's peace of mind just by giving him a piece of hers.

Some men are born with cold feet; some acquire cold feet as they grown older; and some have cold feet thrust upon them.

Of old, you married an older man because he'd be more mature. The new theory is that men don't mature. So you might as well marry a younger one.

They're almost inseparable. Sometimes it takes several people to separate them.

Clangers to avoid

The best way to get a husband to do something is to suggest that perhaps he's too old to do it. (Ann Bancroft)

Men with pierced ears are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and they have bought jewellery. (Rita Rudner)

Keep eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards. (Benjamin Franklin)

My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met each other. (Rodney Dangerfield)

A good wife always forgives her husband whenever she's in the wrong. (Milton Berle)

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.

I haven't spoken to my wife in 18 months - I didn't like to interrupt her!

Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.

"Are there countries where a couple don't know each other until they get married?" "That's true everywhere, son."

Classified ads: "Husband wanted." Next day she received a hundred letters. All said: "You can have mine."

If it weren't for marriage, people could go through life thinking they had no faults.

The most effective way to remember your wife's birthday is to forget it once.