Speaking at a Wedding

Written on 06/03/2016
Justin Smale

Whether you are the bride, groom, best man, family member or possibly a friend of the family, this is one of the most important speeches you’ll ever do.

Although you may not think so at the time, being asked to give a speech at a wedding is an honour. You have been selected because of your close relationship with the family, because of the high regard you are held in or because they believe you are capable of doing a good job. You will find that once you have spoken those first few sentences and realised that the audience is empathetic, you will begin to enjoy the wedding and even enjoy making the speech.

If you haven’t spoken in public before you may well surprise yourself at the sense of achievement you will derive from the experience. 

♥ Know your audience – do your research and be appropriate

♥ Be prepared – you can even practice your speech at home

♥ Overcome your nervousness – remember everyone’s on your side

♥ Strong, clear, natural voice, and not too fast

♥ Act confidently even if you don’t feel it

♥ Enjoy yourself!

♥ Try to finish on a very strong, emotional note

Overcoming your nervousness

Being a little nervous is not a bad thing.  Here are a few tips to overcome any major attack of nerves.

* Remember the audience is on your side
* Your audience is there to enjoy themselves. They are not hostile
* Take a couple of deep breaths before you begin to talk
* Don’t drink too much before your speech.  Alcohol is more likely to confuse you than relax you
* If you are well-prepared and rehearsed, you will be less nervous.

The best speeches will be a mixture of humour (perhaps telling some stories of some of the funny experiences that the bride and groom have shared) but will also display genuine heartfelt affection for the happy couple.  A speech doesn’t have to be structured this way, but often it seems to work well to cover the humerous parts earlier in the speech and to finish on a strong, personal, emotional note that the bride and groom will never forget.

If you need to thank a group of people, even if you are not using notes for the rest of your speech, it may be a good idea to make a list of the people you want to thank, because in the heat of the moment it is very easy, especially if you are thanking a lot of people, to omit thanking someone important.

If you intend to toast the bride & groom, it is usual to use the words:

“So I ask you all to charge your glasses, {pause a few seconds if people need some time} to be upstanding {pause briefly again} 
‘To the bride and groom!'” (Or, ‘To Emma and James!’) All the best for both health and happiness!

Use of Notes

Whether you should use notes, and what sort of notes you should use, depends on your experience in public speaking, your confidence, on how long and detailed your speech is, and on whether there are any details (such as a list of people to thank) that you will really need to write down.

If you are a confident, very experienced speaker, or if you are only making a very short speech, you may be able to speak without notes at all, or to speak only with one or two palm cards with only a few dot points written down to remind you of the main points of your speech.

If you are a very nervous beginner, and you are terrified that you will forget what you were going to say if you don’t have a speech written out in full, don’t worry, just write or type it out and then read it.  Even then, we recommend practising reading it many times so that you start to get a feel for what you are reading, after a while you will find that some parts you won’t need to read because you know what you are going to say without looking at your notes. You will find that your verbal delivery will be much more natural when you get to the section that you know by heart rather than having to read.

Some  Don’ts

* Don’t tell stories that will embarrass the bride or groom too severely
* Don’t allow your humour to be a series of one-liners or stories that don’t really relate to the bride and groom
* Don’t drink so much alcohol before you speak that your delivery is impaired
* Don’t make your speech about yourself rather than about the happy couple
* Don’t tell “in jokes” or stories that only a few people in your audience may appreciate. Remember the groom’s guests may know very little about the bride’s family and vice versa.

Remember enjoy yourself and have fun!