The moment has finally arrived. As you gently tap your glass, inviting the room to quieten down so that you can profess your undevoted love to your other half, you may be feeling the pressure. Rewind a few weeks and you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to sum up the length of your relationship into ten minutes, making sure it’s emotional, engaging and most of all, that it makes your other half feel like the most special person in the world. The good news is that when it comes to wedding speeches, the groom’s speech is the easiest one. Unlike the best man's speech, there’s no pressure to make anyone laugh. Essentially, your job is one big thank you, and everyone will be backing you to do your best. That said, it’s still important to plan your wedding speech. Here’s how.
1. Start with an icebreaker
If you can get the room smiling from the very beginning, then both you and your guests will relax into it and enjoy whatever you have to say. In the weeks leading up to your wedding, try to think of a light-hearted, unique line that specifically relates to your guests or you and your new partner.
2. Thank the parents
Don’t forget, as well as being your special day, today is likely to be one of the happiest days of your parents’ and in-laws’ lives. Be sure to thank them for all they’ve done for you and your partner - both over the years, and in preparation for today. Compliment them and make them feel special. You can then thank anyone else who went above and beyond to help with the wedding - the bridal party, the great aunt who baked the cake or whoever else contributed. The groom’s speech is a guaranteed feel good moment as you get to acknowledge everyone and thank the individuals who helped along the way.
3. An ode to your wife
Next, the most important bit - an ode to your bride or groom. This is where you get to really open your heart and show those friends and family members gathered exactly how much they mean to you. After all, that is the point of a wedding - to declare your commitment in front of witnesses. Remember, your audience - including your other half - want real emotion. That doesn’t mean trying to be someone you’re not, but do dig deep to find the truth of how you feel and don’t be afraid to share it. Think about what made you fall in love with your wife or husband in the first place, and what you’re most looking forward to in your future. Try not to fall into the trap of generic, cheesy lines that you might as well be reciting from a Valentines Day card. Rather than “I’m so lucky to have found you”, add a personal touch by giving detail on how you met them. A simple list of all the quirks you love about your partner also works. Anecdotes and stories that highlight these traits are a good way to elaborate here. A lovely way to be light-hearted and heartfelt at the same time is to make a promise to your partner in front of your guests - perhaps you vow to get onboard with your wife’s unusual hobby, or you promise to sharpen up your cooking skills.
4. Final toast
Close simply with a final toast that makes all the relevant people - your partner, the bridesmaids and the wedding guests - feel special, and sets everyone up to have a good night!
Top tips on wedding speech delivery
1. Practice makes perfect
The biggest mistake you can make when preparing for speaking at a wedding is to write a showstopping, tear-jerking, altogether outstanding speech on paper, and then not read it out loud before the big day. In fact, it’s commonly acknowledged that the content only makes up a mere 7% of your speech. The rest is down to how you say it, and how you use your body to help you. You need to practise talking slower than you usually would, leaving pauses after key words or funny moments, making eye contact with the audience and varying your tone. The best way to practise is by recording yourself then playing it back to notice where you should make these tweaks. Then, get a trusted friend or family member to listen to your speech and give honest feedback - what was the main thing they got from it - does that marry up with your main objective? Were there places where you rushed or used too many umms and uhhs? How was your body language?
2. Use cue cards
Very few people are able to speak completely without notes, unless they’ve had many years of experience in front of an audience. So if you don’t feel inclined to learn your wedding speech by heart, then don’t – it’s not worth the risk of floundering or forgetting. Have a read of our tips for using notes when talking to an audience. In summary though, your goal is to connect with your audience, so if you plan to use notes, make sure they don’t get in the way of you sounding natural. If possible, use cue cards rather than verbatim notes. Cue cards give you a prompt for each section of the speech and help you remember the punchline of jokes. To prepare your notes in such a way that they give you the best possible chance of connecting with your audience, use a large font with separate paragraphs. Highlight key words and any punchlines so you can see at a glance where you’re going with your ideas.
Of course, if you’re simply feeling too nervous and are worried you won’t remember what you need to say, then, in the case of a wedding speech, it’s fine to read your wedding speech off the page. Just be sure to devote plenty of practice time to it, to avoid it sounding scripted, and remember to include plenty of pauses for applause and laughter, and to give ample eye contact. You'll go into detail on all this in our bespoke wedding speech course package, where you’ll work with an expert coach on writing and delivering a speech that makes your guests laugh and cry at all the right moments.
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