There is no getting around the issue: if you are getting married then you are going to have to give a speech. For most grooms this will be their first ever major public speaking engagement, and just as many will have no idea how, where or when to begin preparing for it. Just as well we put this little piece together then – let’s start at the very beginning.
Who gives a speech?
We have already established that you, the groom, will definitely be giving a speech, but tradition dictates that at least two other people will as well – The father of the bride and the best man.
In times past it was the responsibility of the bride’s parents to pay for and ‘host’ the wedding. The father of the bride is always invited to speak first, so that he may welcome ‘his’ guests to the celebration and thank them all for coming. During his speech the father of the bride will normally move on to say a few amusing but tender words about his daughter before detailing some positives about his new son-in-law and welcoming him into the family. He will then pass the baton directly over to the groom to continue the speeches.
Your speech is generally focussed on praising your new wife and her family and thanking the best man, the ushers the bridesmaids and the mothers for all their help on behalf of you both. We will go into a bit more detail later on about what things you need to cover off.
The best man follows the groom and is expected to be the star of the show. Traditionally the purpose of the best man’s speech was to introduce the groom to all those guests who did not know him. In modern times however this speech has morphed into a mixture of stand-up comedy and ritual humiliation. Your guests will expect a bit of this, so don’t take it too personally and try to laugh it off.
Can anyone else give a speech?
Of course anyone who wants to give a speech should be allowed to. Not all families exist in a format that allows the traditional speech structure to be followed, and you should be open to the idea of deviating from the norm.
The most common additions to the speeches are the maid of honour (who will want to do something similar to the best man), your own father and your new bride. Don’t be too surprised if one or both of the mothers want to say something as well.
Whilst you should allow anyone who wants to speak the chance to do so, you do not want to make the list of speeches so long that all they achieve is to bore your guests. Use your judgement carefully and if you have a lot of speakers ask them all to keep their turn nice and short.
How to structure your groom’s speech
It could be said that your job is the easiest. All your speech really has to do is thank those who helped with the wedding and tell the assembled crowd how much you love your new wife. All the guests are there because of you and they will be willing you to do well more so than the other two speakers.
In order to make sure you cover off all the things you need to with your speech, why not try writing it based on the following structure.
- Thank your new father-in-law for his kind words and for helping you (if he did) put on such a wonderful wedding.
- Thank the bride’s wider family for welcoming you into their home and lives. Even if you don’t get along particularly well you should try and find a couple of positives to say about them and the fantastic upbringing they gave your wife. This only needs to be short, but try to include as many people as possible if they deserve it.
- Turn to your own family and thank them. Praise the way they brought you up, but also try and add in a humorous anecdote about an amusing event during your childhood. Give special mention to both your and your wife’s mothers; tell them how amazing they are. You do not want to go down the soppy sentimental route, but your aim is to try and make all the mothers in the room cry.
- Move on to thank the bridesmaids for all their work, and don’t forget to praise them about how beautiful they look. Remember, you are giving this speech on behalf of your wife as well so don’t forget to use ‘WE’ instead of ‘I’. If you have any presents for the bridesmaids now is the time to give them out. A toast is normally called for as well.
- Do the same for your best man and give him the present you bought him. You may want to put in a little belittling jibe about him before he unleashes his torrent of abuse on you.
- Finish off the thank yous by naming everyone who has helped in the planning and execution of the wedding. They will appreciate being recognised.
- This is the serious bit… it is time to talk openly and honestly about your new wife and how much you love her. Tell the story of how you first met, or perhaps something else from your relationship; just make sure you give this section some real thought. Talk from the heart and try to avoid sounding like a Valentine’s Day card, if you pull it off well the whole place will be in tears and everyone will be in the palm of your hand.
- Handover to your best man to finish off the set, but make sure you do it with a little joke about how he is known to confuse fact with fantasy, or that he has a renowned imagination for the obscene – its naff, but it will get a laugh.
You should aim to fit all of the above inside 10 minutes. If you can, by the end you will have made your guests laugh, cry and cheer. Then sit back down, your grooms speech is done – now the party can start.