The Groom Speech – we get tips from the pros on how to make your speech memorable for all the right reasons
After the act of actually getting married, giving the Groom speech is probably the second most nerve-wracking thing every man has to face on his wedding day, and it’s easy to see why.
Photo by Penny Young
Your guests want to be entertained, your new in-laws will be judging you, and your bride is probably just hoping you don’t embarrass her. It’s a lot to handle.
To help you on your way to writing the perfect groom’s speech, we’ve talked to some industry professionals to get their expert advice, and have outlined everything you need to mention in order to make your speech a hit.
Thank your guests
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Coming to a wedding is a big expense for everyone involved, and your guests have probably had to cough up for a good amount of petrol (or even flights), a hotel room, and your gift, so make sure they know they’re appreciated from the get-go.
The first way you can do this in your speech is by thanking them. The second way is by making your whole speech relatively short so they can get on with the drinking and dancing portion of the evening. Trust me, everyone will appreciate it.
A toast to absent friends
Those who couldn’t make it and those no longer with us should not be forgotten, and it’ll especially score points with your in-laws if you raise a glass to your new wife’s dearly departed Nana Elsie in your speech. Don’t be afraid to show your sensitive side here. It’s a nice touch and it will definitely be appreciated.
Big up your best man and your ushers
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…And, of course, make some jokes at their expense. This is a good follow-up to mentioning deceased relatives as it’s a big mood-lightener. Your best man has probably only just mentioned in his speech some embarrassing anecdotes about you or told a few too many bad jokes about your stag do, so now is the time to get him back.
But you should also thank them. Your boys have done you a big favour by playing a part in your wedding day (even if all they did was roll out of bed and put on a nice suit – that can be hard for guys), so don’t be afraid to let a little bromance come through in your speech.
Just remember this speech isn’t all about you and your mates
“But please do [this] briefly,” says Seb of Great Speech Writing. “One regular complaint from wedding guests is that came to listen to stories about the bride and groom, not the groom and his best man. Don’t forget who you are marrying and why you have asked people to come and celebrate.”
Tradition dictates you mentioned the bridesmaids and flower girls as well. They played a massive role in the day and have likely also acted as important support for your new wife, so make sure they know they’re appreciated.
Others who have lent a helping hand
Bearing in mind that this isn’t a school speech day, you should still acknowledge those in the room who have gone above and beyond to make your day the wonderful occasion it’s been. If you haven’t given them a nod yet, do so here.
Be careful of rattling off a list like an Oscar’s speech, though. “It is important to thank those people who have helped you on the way to this special day but there is always a risk of simply standing there and reading a list of people to whom you wish to show your appreciation,” says Kevin of Speeches For You.
Seb of Great Speech Writing agrees. “You don’t want you speech to become a long list of thank yous,” he points out. So just keep it to the really vital people. Everyone else can get a thank you note.
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Your new in-laws and your own parents
This is your moment to gain some serious credit with your new wife’s parents, so don’t throw it away. Thank them for all they’ve done. If they paid for the wedding, sing their praises to the rafters. Thank them for raising the woman of your dreams and for accepting you into the family. And if they haven’t quite accepted you yet, that doesn’t matter right now! Get your now legally-binding relationship with them off to the right start nevertheless and make them feel appreciated.
Photo by Stylish Wedding Photography
As Adrian of All Speeches Great and Small advises, “Wedding speeches should never be used as a points scoring opportunity, so the best policy is: if you’ve got nothing nice to say, keep it basic. A collective toast to all parents gets around toasting him individually and don’t be tempted to make any statements about building bridges between you in the future. Chances are he’ll come round in the end.”
Photo by Paul Keppel
When it comes to your mum and dad, only you know what to say. They raised you and, hopefully, have supported you through good times and bad, so make sure they feel the love. It’s okay to show your gooey mummy’s boy side for a minute if it’s there, but if it’s not, don’t force it.
Photo by Rebecca Faith
Last, but absolutely never least. Your new wife is the star of the show on your wedding day, so the longest and most heartfelt part of your speech should be all about her. It’s cliché, yes, but if you don’t mention how beautiful she is, how lucky you are, and how you’re punching well above your weight with her, you won’t have done your job with your speech.
But, once all the stock lines are out of the way, it’s time to talk about your relationship in as genuine and real a way as you can muster. If you both have a good sense of humour and you like joking around, let that come through here, but if you don’t, then… don’t. Nothing is worse than a groom who spends his speech reciting bad one-liners he found on the internet. (It’s just slightly more cringe-worthy than a best man who does that.)
If you do tell some jokes or a funny story about your new wife, think hard about which one(s) to go for. Believe it or not, embarrassing or insulting your bride on your wedding day is a bit of a faux pas. Some jokes are best left just between you two. That said, a couple of funny and endearing stories can go a long way.
Photo by Stylish Wedding Photography
It’s up to you to break the ice, but keep it simple
“Weddings always have a large mix of people and not many know one another,” Kevin of Speeches for You iterates. “…You and your wife will probably be the only people who know everyone in the room. Including some shared memories will have guests talking to each other after the meal and will make for a much more pleasant atmosphere in the evening.”
Maybe you’re the type of guy who doesn’t really wear his heart on his sleeve, and for whom saying a lot of cheesy, lovey things during your speech would feel alien. In that case, don’t force it. It’ll feel and look awkward and disingenuous.
And if you’re really stuck, don’t try reading a love poem, advises Adrian. “Forget overly romantic gushing quotes because they are so over used it’s about as meaningful as reading out the gas bill. Think of the reasons you had when you made up your mind to propose and just tell it like it is.”
Bear in mind that the most important thing during this part of your speech is to stay true to yourself and to represent your relationship honestly and with love, and no one can dictate to you how to do that.
Other things to bear in mind
This part of your day doesn’t have to be scary if you don’t let it be. As long as you’ve written a speech that is authentic to you and your relationship with your wife, you really can’t go wrong here. Be as funny or as serious as you typically are in your everyday life; forcing either one will make for a boring or robotic speech that will be forgettable at best and embarrassing at worst.
Timing is key
When it comes to timing, try to keep it to 5-10 minutes, according to Seb. As much as your guests love that you’re happy and that you love your wife, they’re mainly there to drink and party. And before you go thinking that’s untrue or harsh, remember what was going through your head the last time you sat through speeches at a wedding. As for the toasts, keep it down to two; one to the bridesmaids and one to your new wife. Any more than that and your speech could turn into a drinking game.
And if you totally blank? “Just remember to thank the parents, the best man for his help, and the guests for coming, and say how beautiful your wife is” Seb says. That’ll guarantee you say what needs to be said with as little drama as possible.