Having attended a few weddings now, both professionally, and as a guest, I’ve seen quite a few different ways of doing things. Some people like traditional, church-based weddings, with hymns, vicars, church halls, and bouquet tosses. Some prefer their ceremony not to have any religious content, to have it as short as possible, and to end it with a big party. And some people like Star Wars-themed weddings, with the bride being given away by Chewbacca!
There’s no right or wrong way to approach your wedding – as long as it reflects you as a couple, then it’s already a success. However, it can be quite nerve-wracking, especially if you’re one of the ‘lucky ones’ who have to do a speech on the day.
The good news is, the groom speech is probably the easiest speech to give and write. The bad news is that it’s still very easy to mess up. How many times have you watched a half-inebriated best man slur his way through some mumbled, inside-joke based anecdotes, for far too long, when you want to get the party started? Probably more than you’d care to mention. Ok, we're talking about the groom speech here, but the principal is the same.
If public speaking isn’t your forte, and you don’t know where to start, read on for 5 tips on how to do a good job:
The key to not being that guy above is to get a good, solid structure in place. What does that mean? That means get a piece of paper, and write down the things you have to include, and put them in the right order.
There are a few standards, such as thanking the bride’s parents and family (especially if they paid for the wedding), thanking your own family, and generally being nice to the guests. You’ll also want to compliment the bridesmaids, and then give a toast (probably the most fun bit!).
At this point, you might want to introduce your best man, who’ll usually be up next. This is a chance to get in a quick pre-emptive strike before his speech, so either be incredibly nice about him (kill him with kindness) before he destroys your reputation, or try to destroy his credibility with a quick joke.
From there, it’s a quick round of thank yous to the various organisers and helpers, followed by some words of love and kindness about your new bride. Perhaps you could tell the story of how you met, or maybe you could describe a funny anecdote you’ve shared. If you do this right, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
So there you have it! That’s a quick summary of the structure. On to…
Blokes often approach their speech as the groom as an opportunity to show what they see as their under appreciated stand-up skills. The brutal truth is that jokes are not your role on the day - the best man speech is the place for humour. And let’s face it, are you really that funny? Ok, that was a bit of tough love, but seriously, if you aren’t one hundred percent sure that your jokes are both funny and in good taste, then leave them out.
Is it really worth starting a family feud on the first day of your married life together?
All the Dutch courage, and even a roomful of friends and well-wishers can’t help you if you’re not used to speaking in public. Nerves can be a factor, and unless you speak to roomfuls of people for a living, they may well kick in at just the wrong moment. What’s the best thing you can do to avoid this? That’s right: practice. Get your speech written a few weeks before the ceremony, and practice, practice, practice – it shows, trust me.
After all that rehearsal, on the day, hopefully the words will flow from your brain like champagne from a freshly opened bottle. You can relax, breathe, and concentrate on all those important things like looking your audience in the eye, speaking clearly, and….
4. SLOW DOWN
When you’re giving your speech you won’t realise it, but the adrenaline takes over, and before you know it, you’re talking at a mile-a-minute. It’s one of the most common public speaking tips: speak slowly. I mean really sloooooow. Talk slower than you think you need to, and BREATHE. It works, trust me.
5. Keep it short
These will be welcome words to those who aren’t keen on the idea of speaking in public. There’s a school of thought that you shouldn’t go over 10 minutes for your speech. The quote “always leave them wanting more” applies particularly well to groom speeches, and hey, whilst we’re on the subject, if you’re stuck for something to say, someone else has usually said it better than you, so why not put in a quote from someone important to you and your wife?
So there you have it, those are my top 5 tips for putting together a good groom speech. If you follow those tips, and personalise it to you and your betrothed, you will absolutely nail it. Who knows? If you do a good enough job, the humiliation of the best man’s speech might not even undo all your good work? Well, that probably won’t happen, but it’s good to be positive!
For more groom speech tips, check out this article, and this video from Videojug is also very helpful. If you would like to discuss anything you've read above, or want to book me for your wedding, feel free to get in touch!