How to Give a Great Wedding Speech

From the rambling to the mumbled to the inappropriate, we’ve all seen wedding speeches go wrong. Here’s our best advice to make sure you get yours right.

By: Jeremy FreedDate: 2021-07-07

Relax.

It’s natural to be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd, so don’t stress too much if you get the jitters. If you are feeling a little nervous (or are totally freaking out) it helps to practice your speech ahead of time, preferably in front of a few people, and there’s no shame in reading from your phone or a piece of paper.

Stay sharp.

It’s ok to have a drink or two before your speech, but you definitely don’t want to be “that guy,” so save the tequila shots until after the applause.

Keep it short.

There’s a finite amount of time that people will be interested in what you’re saying (and it gets shorter as the evening wears on), so get in, get to the point and leave on a high note. Your wedding speech should be 3-5 minutes (or a maximum of about 750 written words). It may not sound like much time, but trust us, a wedding speech is one place where less is usually more.

Stay on topic.

If you’re not the one getting married, you are not the most important part of the story, so the less time spent talking about yourself the better. Introduce yourself in a sentence or two at the top and then get to the point (ie the bride and groom).

It’s a speech, not a roast.

If you know the the bride or groom well, you’re bound to have seen them at their worst as well as their best. As hilarious as it might be to share a humiliating story from the groom’s past, this isn’t the time or the place, so save that particular stroll down memory lane for the bachelor party or the after-party. And if you really must throw share an embarrassing story, keep it short and make it as family-friendly as possible.

Stay positive.

The whole point of a wedding speech is to celebrate the people getting married, so focus on what it is you love, admire and respect about the groom or bride. While this might sound straightforward, as anyone who’s sat down in front of a blank Word document knows, putting years or decades worth of history onto a page isn’t always easy. If you’re having trouble getting started, begin by making a list of your best memories of the bride or groom. Then make a list of the qualities you admire or appreciate most about them. In a best-case scenario, you will start by talking about the latter and then segue into a story that illustrates it. Or if that’s not working, simply pick a story or two that illustrates why he or she is the awesome person they are and tell it, ending on a positive note. It really is that simple.

Jeremy Freed is a Toronto-based freelance journalist. His writing about menswear, travel, design and sustainability appears in Sharp, GQ, the Globe and Mail and many more.