How to give the best wedding speech ever!

Have you been tasked with giving a speech at a wedding? Quite an honor, but sometimes a little scary! You want it to be good. No, you want it to be great!

Here are some of my thoughts on how to help you get there.

First, and very importantly, it needs to be structured – you know:  a beginning, middle and end. Hold this thought as you create yours, and it will help guide you. Know your three key points – your introduction, some meaningful content, and a good ending. Endings are everything, it’s also what people remember the most, so bring your best energy to it.

And a common problem many speakers battle is not knowing when or how to end.  I’m sure we’ve all heard speakers going on and on, wishing they’d stopped sooner! If you are not reading the speech you may also find yourself out on a limb and having a hard time getting back to safety. In other words, just prattling on and on.

Don’t let this happen. Either write your speech or use bullet points to keep you on track. If you know what you want to say, and prefer NOT to read it – practice OUT LOUD with a friend. This really does make a big difference.

Introduce yourself. Not everyone knows who you are, and assuming they do is arrogant.  Simply say who you are and how you know the couple – and that starts you off in the right direction. There’s your beginning.

A best friend of one half of the couple must include words about the other partner. It can’t be all about your friend, leaving out his or her new spouse. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do so, or make it sound like a mere after thought. A short compliment to him or her isn’t enough. Include something of substance.

Keep it clean. Don’t include anything you wouldn’t want published in the newspaper, heard at work, or want your mother to hear. If in doubt – don’t say it.

Include stories, experiences with the couple that enlighten us to their personalities and their love. Explain why you know they belong together. Your childhood friendship with one or both of them is fine, but keep that brief.

Humor is difficult. Don’t force it. If a story is funny, great, but don’t tell jokes, it’s not open mic night, it’s a tribute to the couple, not you!

See if you can find a meaningful quote, something that makes complete sense for the couple, reflecting their taste, passions and values. There is a lot of wisdom out there, finding something from a source that connects to their lives helps illuminate your intent. But again, don’t force it. It’s not required.

If you think it’s too long, it probably is. When you practice the speech – time it.  About five minutes is perfect.

Be sober, or mostly sober, when you speak.

Be yourself. Don’t write something overly fancy or use words you wouldn’t ordinarily use.

Don’t let the speechmaker who proceeds you, steel your thunder or your wonderful stories. Check with them ahead of time and compare notes if at all possible.

If you are asking folks to raise their glass in a toast for your finish, make sure their glasses are full before you even start, so check with the wait-staff before you even begin.

Remember – there is a difference between offering a toast and making a speech. Please do what is asked of you, although a speech is often (but not always) ended with a toast. However, don’t step on someone else’s toes if they’ve been asked to make the toast. A best man versus a father, for example – the father offers a toast, the best man gives a speech; or best woman gives the speech, and mother offers the toast, or any version conceivable.

And finally, the big conclusion – thank everyone for being there and acknowledge the love that brought you all together.

     Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the use of your wonderful photography

LoisHeckman.com

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  • Blog Author

    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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