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Wedding Speech Etiquette; A guide for the father of the bride, the bridegroom and the best man.

Updated on June 27, 2009

The thought of public speaking can be very daunting and will send most people running for the hills. But what if you don't have a choice? Weddings are where most people encounter this challenge for the first time and If you are soon to be the father of the bride, the bridegroom or the best man then you had better be prepared. Here you will find some tips on how to order the content of your speech, how to say it and points to remember.

The father of the bride

The bride's father is first up. Traditionally it is the father of the bride who proposes a toast to the bride and groom but in modern weddings anyone can take this role. For example the mother of the bride, an uncle or a family friend. The content of the speech will be dictated by the speaker's relationship to the bride and groom but a speech given by the father of the bride should cover the following points:

  • Introduce yourself - It may seem obvious who you are but it is polite to let everyone know.
  • A welcome to the guests - Thank the guests for coming to the happy occasion and wish them a great night.
  • The bride - Talk about how proud you and your wife are of your daughter and what she is like as a person. You could also share some stories of when she was young and growing up.
  • The bridegroom - Tell your guests what a great guy he is, how you have gotten to know him well and how happy he makes your daughter. Finally welcome your new son-in-law to the family.
  • Welcome the bridegroom's parents - This is pretty formal but is a nice touch.
  • Wisdom and well wishing - Here you can impart those pearls that have helped you throughout your life. You should end this part by exclaiming your confidence in the long and happy life that the bride and groom will share together.
  • A toast to the bride and groom - The conclusion of the speech is the toast. Toast to the happy couple's future happiness, success and health.

You may also have to introduce the bridegroom to speak if there is no master of ceremonies

The bridegroom

The bridegroom is up next and this is his turn to shine. You should cover the following:

  • Welcome the guests - Start by welcoming everyone present and give special thanks for those who have come far.
  • Thanks to the bride's father - Thank him for his kind words and declare how happy your are to now be a part of that family. If you want to be traditional you could also thank him for giving you his daughter in marriage.
  • Thanks to your parents - Thank your parents for everything they have done for you.
  • The bride - Talk about how lovely and wonderful your new wife is and how lucky you are to have her.
  • Thanks to the best man - Thank him for his invaluable help.
  • Thanks to all those who have helped prepare for the big day.
  • A toast to the bridesmaids - Your speech should conclude with a toast to the bridesmaids. You can also give out your gifts to the attendants at this point.

If there is no master of ceremonies you should now introduce the best man.

The best man

The best man's speech follows the bridegroom's and is generally of a less formal and lighter tone. Don't worry if you are not a budding comedian, if you can include the following then your speech should be great:

  • Thanks to the bridegroom - Thank him for asking you to be his best man and talk of what an honor it is.
  • The bride - If you know the bride then now is a good time to say how great she is and how lucky the bridegroom is.
  • The bridegroom - Here you can talk about the bridegroom and maybe tell a few humorous stories about him, but remember to not include any blue jokes or anything that might offend any of the guests.
  • Read out cards - At this point you can read out a few select cards from those who were not able to attend. Try to keep this brief.
  • Toast - You may want to conclude your speech with a final toast to the bride and groom.

You may be asked to introduce the next item on the agenda, such as the cutting of the cake, if there is no master of ceremonies.

How to make the speech

Make sure to prepare your speech well in advance but try to keep it a little flexible so you can add extra or new information as the wedding day approaches. Do not try to memorize your speech but try to get as familiar with it as possible in order to keep it natural. Keep it with you during your speech, this allows you to look at it briefly to refresh your memory. Try and keep your speech to five minutes. This may seem short, but five minutes in front of a big audience can seem much longer. Try to speak loudly, clearly and also a little slower than normal, nerves can speed up your speech and some of the important points could get lost. Practicing your speech before hand, perhaps in front of a mirror, will help boost your confidence and give you an idea of how long it is. You may also like to tape or video it, this could help you spot some things you haven't noticed.

Things to remember

  • Prepare your speech in advance and write or type it with large and clear lettering. If you make any alterations remember to re-write it to avoid it being difficult to read during the speech.
  • Use humour if you can, but remember to not include blue jokes or anything that could possibly be offensive. This can include any past relationships or episodes that could be embarrassing or upsetting.
  • Try and speak as loudly and clearly as possible and also a little more slowly than normal.
  • Do not drink too much before giving your speech and remember to go to the toilet before hand.
  • Stick to your speech! If you try and improvise or ad lib you could say something inappropriate and regret it later.

Giving a speech, especially at a wedding, can be one of the most nerve-wracking things you may be asked to do, but if you do it right it could add greatly to the best day of the bride and groom's life. If you stay calm, prepare in advance and follow the above guidelines you should come out the other end unscathed. Good luck!


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