The Do’s and Don’t’s of Wedding Speeches

01 Aug 2011

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Wedding Speeches

Everyone looks forward to wedding speeches. Except, often, those that have to give them. The prospect of getting up on stage under all the pressure to be polite, funny, charming and emotional is enough to send any man running for the bar, but here are a few tips on how to wow with your speech, or at the very least, earn a little respect

Image gallery

Image gallery

It’s important to remember who should say what in the wedding speeches. While many traditional codes of etiquette are often abandoned at weddings nowadays; no one is really bothered which direction you toast in, there are a few things that shouldn’t go forgotten. Traditionally the father of the bride is the first to make a speech, opening by thanking the guests for coming. He should then welcome his new son in law and his parents into the family, before going on to talk about his daughter, and finishing with a toast to the bride and groom. Next up is usually the groom himself, where he will begin by thanking all relevant people, such as the in-laws, parents, guests and those who have helped bring the wedding together. He must then talk about his new wife, their relationship and their future, before toasting the bridesmaids and often introducing the speech everybody has been waiting for: the Best Man Speech!

So, you’ve been broposed to, you’ve accepted the honour and celebrated with the groom. Now comes the hard part. Once wedding and stag preparations are in the bag, the Best Man must attend to the nerve-racking matter of the wedding speeches. But have no worries, check out these do’s and don’t’s and you’ll have an impressive speech at your fingertips in no time.

DO practice! It sounds obvious but so many people leave it to the very last minute, when there is no time left to have a proper run through, and get a second opinion, which is always very valuable.

DON’T plan a speech that will be over 10 minutes long, and certainly not over 15. No matter how good the speech, people will start fidgeting and wondering when the cake will be cut. Keep it succinct for maximum effect and less chance of forgetting it.

DO your research! Chatting to other people who know the groom well will provide you with a wealth of anecdotes and stories about him that you haven’t thought of. Often, if you feel stuck for ideas, you only need a little inspiration before the ideas start flowing from yourself. Now, you just have to decide what’s appropriate.

DON’T underestimate the value of the bride in your speech planning. She will be the other person who knows the groom (almost) as well as you do, so is useful to draw on for ideas and material, especially when it comes to more specific relationship things, such as the proposal and how they met.

DO consider using photos or videos to spice up your speech and add a bit of visual humour. This is especially good if you are feeling very nervous, as it takes some of the attention and spotlight off you. Just be careful and selective with your choices, and make sure you prepare well in advance, giving you enough time to run it through on the same equipment (if possible) that you will be using at the wedding.

DON’T drink too much prior to the giving the speech. It sounds obvious but even an innocuous couple of pints can take disastrous effect on your mind and balance once you step up on stage. It can be a good idea to move the speeches to before the food; that way you’ll be able to relax with your meal, and will be less tempted to drink too much beforehand.

DO have your speech written out in full, preferably in a large font and double spaced, so you don’t lose your place. To avoid simply reading the speech rather than delivering it (a common fault), highlight your key points to refer to easily, and memorise/improvise the bits in between, knowing that you are safe should your mind go blank.

DON’T give any in-depth accounts of the stag do: remember that what happens on the stag do stays on the stag do. On a similar note remember that while mildly embarrassing the groom is fine, saying anything destructive that could potentially ruin his special day or cause arguments, is definitely not. You don’t want to be responsible for a divorce announcement before the cake is cut.

DO warm up! It may sound unnecessary by all stand up comedians, professional speakers an actors do, just as all athletes do. It needn’t be anything too conspicuous, just make sure you get up and walk around, take some deep breaths and maybe do a few shoulder rolls to get yourself relaxed and standing up straight. Have a couple of tongue twisters at the ready to loosen up your face and jaw.

DON’T forget that the wedding will most likely be attended by everyone aged 7 to 70, all eagerly awaiting your speech. So give them what they are waiting for, and don’t say or do anything that could cause any mental scarring for either generation.

DO take this opportunity to say how you really feel towards the groom, and let everybody know just how special he is to you. While there are obviously limits, it’s ok to get a little bit soppy; it’s all in the name of brotherhood.


For more information on how to be the very Best Man see






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