Tips For Giving The Ultimate Wedding Speech
Tips For Giving The Ultimate Wedding Speech

Tips For Giving The Ultimate Wedding Speech

With more couples ditching age-old traditions in favour of personal touches, wedding speeches are no longer the reserve of the groom, best man and father of the bride. So, whether you're a bride-to-be wanting to raise her own toast or just looking for some helpful tips to pass on to others, this is the advice the experts want you to bear in mind…

Give yourself six months

“You should look to start writing the speech around six months before the wedding. This might sound early, but you will constantly think of funny stories and anecdotes following this point, which you can quickly jot down. The speech you start with will look very different to the one you end up with. If you start it shortly before the wedding, it will inevitably end up with cheesy and repetitive lines rather than heartfelt stories.” – Tom Bourlet from The Stag Company

Write from the heart 

“It’s no bad thing to open your heart to the emotions of the day and share your true thoughts about your partner and your guests. Points you can touch on include what you or your partner thought on your first date; how you met; how you feel now about your partner versus before; that moment when you knew they were the one for you; and how your partner makes you feel. Finally, try to include funny stories from your relationship – but always keep it clean.” – wedding planner Emma Murray Jones 

Choose an opening style

“First impressions count, so your opening line needs to be the one that grabs everyone’s attention and sets the tone for the rest of the speech. The first option is to go funny and start with a joke. Perhaps a hilarious story about you and your partner; an embarrassing fact about them or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek account of how you met. Just keep it PG and make sure you avoid revealing secrets that’ll turn the whole room sour. If you want to be more heartfelt, then this is your moment to show how much you love your family and friends. This will let your audience know your speech is going to be meaningful and that there’ll be no messing about. Finally, you might want to strike a more formal tone if you know the audience isn’t going to take kindly to jokes or soppy stories. In that case, give them the facts: how long you’ve known your partner; where you met and your plans for the future.” – the team at hen party company Fizzbox 

Introduce yourself

“There is no use performing a killer speech if nobody in the room knows who you are. If you’re the bride or groom, most people will know you. But if you’re a bridesmaid or groomsmen, there’s likely to be distant relatives of the bride and groom and work colleagues who’ve never met you, so make sure you introduce yourself. Let them know how you know the couple and what your relationship is to them.” – the Fizzbox team

“Just a quick one on the opening line – many people won't be fully concentrating, so don't burn your best joke at this point. You don't want it to fall on flat ears, so save it for further into your speech. I've heard a number of people admit they used their best joke straight away and half the audience didn't hear it.” – Tom 

Keep it short & sweet

“It is very difficult to distil a friendship or relationship into a couple of minutes but you will be thanked for this. I recommend sticking to three to five minutes and no more than eight. A clear, tight, structure will help you deliver a brilliant speech and leave everyone wanting more. This is equally important on the day itself; do not go off script and meander through your thoughts. If you lose your place, you can pause and refer to your notes, but do not freestyle and make it up as you go along. I have never seen a long wedding speech that has been well received.” – Matthew Shaw, founder of events & creative studio Sauveur.


Stick to an angle

“Speeches can sprawl quite easily when you're trying to cover so much and this makes them difficult to follow. When you first start planning your speech it’s helpful to throw lots of ideas around but then try to focus on an overall theme or approach. This could be a personality trait, great jokes, or a more heartfelt approach, but it will help you and the guests if there is a clear angle to follow. In turn, this will help your guests follow along and you will be gifted with a better response from the room. As for content, keep it clean and universal. By all means poke fun at your subject but consider who may be present and keep the more shaming stories for another time. Similarly, you should consider what your audience can relate to too. No one wants to sit through a five-minute private joke.” – Matthew 

Acknowledge your new family 

“This works both ways – for grooms and for brides – but it’s worth remembering your partner’s family will now be in your life for the rest of your life. It therefore makes sense to thank them for welcoming you to the family and tell them how much you look forward to being part of it in the future. It might even be that they contributed to the wedding in some way, so make sure you’re saying the appropriate thank yous, too.” – Emma 

Respond to the other speeches

“This can be a slightly harder tip to follow, but it will make your speech seem more authentic. It will, of course, depend on when you are speaking during the day, but allowing a short section for this in your notes will work wonders. You should then take five minutes during the day to think through the celebrations so far and what you could add in. This could be something special said during the ceremony, a funny moment that has happened, or a detail you’ve picked up on. This really ties everyone’s experience together as it's a point everyone in your audience can relate to.” – Matthew 

Use notes, not a script

“As much as possible, I suggest rehearsing enough so you know the overall structure and points off by heart and then using notes as a guide on the day. Your speech will feel much more natural for this and it will also help you look up and out across the room. Depending on how comfortable you are, you can then take the speech down to key points and practise using those. For our weddings we often stick these into a spare order of service so they look smart and are also easier to hold and turn the page. This will also help you with your eye contact. Definitely don’t read it off your phone.” – Matthew  

Build up to a strong finish

When it’s time to round everything off, start by summarising what you’ve touched on and how much you’re looking forward to the rest of the day. Wish the couple a lifetime of happiness – or if you’re the bride or groom, emphasise how much you love your partner. You can even call back to earlier stories or jokes which will tie everything up before the final few words. It’s normally best practice to keep along the theme of ‘love’ for the toast. If you have been mainly jokey or philosophical, stick with that until the end. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work with something that’s out of place. Now make the toast and raise a glass. Make sure to enjoy the smiles and check to see the reaction.” – the Fizzbox team

Still in doubt? Follow Matthew’s Best Speech Ever (BSE) acronym…

“This is my acronym for putting the finishing touches on an excellent speech. Body language, speed, and energy. Once you’ve written your speech, the crucial next step is to rehearse it so you are comfortable with your material and delivery.

Body language: Make sure you rehearse in front of the mirror so you can see how you deliver the speech. Keep an eye out for any nervous ticks you may have and what your hands are doing. Ask if you will be using a microphone and, if so, practise with a hairbrush. You should hold it steady, a few centimetres from your mouth. 

Speed: Remember to keep it slow. We have a habit of speaking fast when we’re nervous, which will make it hard for your audience to follow. I suggest recording yourself so you can play it back and work out how much you need to slow down. It’s also important to allow moments for you to pause for reaction, and to take your breath or a sip of water. If helpful, write these into your notes as a reminder. Don’t try and rattle off the whole speech without any breaks.

Energy: To avoid monotone delivery, work out the energy of each section in your speech and practise moving between different registers. This will help keep it interesting as well ensuring your audience follows along.

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