A good toast or speech can be a real highlight of a wedding, moving people to tears or bringing the house down with laughs. It’s the time for congratulations, thanks – and very often some good-natured ribbing. Preparation is the key to making a good speech: very few people can pull out an off-the-cuff corker, and we’ve all heard some ill-prepared doozies (which can be entertaining in their own cringe-worthy way!). But, let’s face it, a great speech is the goal here.
Whatever you do, do not wing it! Traditionally there are three speeches at a wedding, and a toast at the end of each speech. We consulted etiquette experts, Debrett’s, for the traditional format, and then followed up with some modern twists.
The Father of the Bride’s Speech
- The father of the bride starts the speeches. He thanks guests for coming and also those involved with organising the wedding. He may then share some tales and affectionate anecdotes about the bride, before welcoming the groom into the family. The father of the bride’s speech finishes with a toast to “the bride and groom”.
- Nowadays, this speech on behalf of the bride’s family is given by any member of the family, including the mother of the bride, a brother, sister, uncle, aunt or even a godparent. These days, it’s equally common for the father or mother of the groom to make a speech as well.
The Groom’s Speech
- The groom’s speech should include some heartfelt words about his new wife, his new family and the day itself. Firstly, on behalf of himself and his new wife, the groom thanks the father of the bride for his opening speech. He then thanks guests for coming, the bride’s parents for hosting the wedding, his parents for raising him and the best man for supporting him. He should also thank anyone else who has helped with planning the wedding. It’s also super-important for the groom to say a few words about his new wife (!), and then finish with a toast to “the bridesmaids”.
- Moving with the times, many brides like to make a speech themselves. Writing and presenting together as a couple is also a fun twist on the groom’s speech. If the bride is a strong speaker and the groom shies away from the spotlight, the bride can make the speech herself.
The Best Man’s Speech
- The best man starts by reading out messages from friends and relatives who couldn’t attend, followed by a few fun, light-hearted anecdotes about the groom. The speech should also include some stories about the couple, how they met, their relationship and a few compliments for the bride. The best man’s speech should be witty and amusing rather than shocking; it must appeal to all generations. Jokes should be funny and lighthearted, never rude or smutty. He finishes with a toast to “the newlyweds, Mr and Mrs…” and then announces the cutting of the cake. Note to best men: you don’t need to speak for a long time; some of the most successful speeches are short, funny, heartfelt and charming.
- As well as the best man’s speech, a popular twist is a speech made by the maid of honour, a sister or a friend of the bride.
MORE THAN WORDS
When words aren’t enough or don’t come easily, an audio-visual presentation, poem or song (if you can actually sing!) can be a creative and clever alternative to a traditional speech. This is especially great if public speaking isn’t your thing, but you really want to express yourself.
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