Being asked to deliver a wedding speech can feel equal parts humbling and terrifying! Not only is there the daunting thought of speaking in front of a crowd, there’s also the overwhelming task of writing a memorable speech that ticks all the right boxes, from humorous to heartfelt. No pressure, right?!
If you’re currently trying to prepare for your wedding speech duties but feeling stuck with writer’s block, we’re here to help. From etiquette tips to wording examples, keep reading for our top tips on writing an epic wedding speech that leaves a lasting impression.
How to Write a Great Wedding Speech: Etiquette Tips
Before you sit down to craft your speech, take a moment to think first about the bigger picture. Whether you’re a bridesmaid, best man or sibling, there are a few etiquette guidelines you should keep in mind to ensure your speech is memorable for all the right reasons. We’ve rounded up the most important “unspoken rules” for a wedding toast below:
- A great wedding speech strikes the perfect balance between sentimental and light-hearted. If your speech is overly sentimental and gushy, it might feel uncomfortable amongst a large crowd. On the flipside, if it’s too light-hearted and silly, it might come across as disrespectful or insincere. A 50:50 ratio will ensure your speech hits the mark!
- The sweet spot for any wedding speech is generally between 2-5 minutes. This is the perfect amount of time to deliver a meaningful speech without losing the interest of guests or impacting the reception timeline.
- While funny anecdotes are a great way to personalise your speech, steer clear of any embarrassing stories (or mentions of ex-partners!) that could make anyone feel uncomfortable. Keep it clean!
- On that note – some gentle teasing is completely fine if that suits your relationship with the couple, but don’t paint anyone in an unflattering light. Playful humour should only be used if you’re 150% sure it will be well-received!
- Don’t copy a speech you found online word-for-word. Templates are a helpful starting point for ideas and inspiration, but the best wedding speeches are always personalised to reflect your relationship with the couple.
- Make sure your speech is directed at both of the newlyweds. Even though you’ll probably have a closer relationship with one half of the couple, it’s important to address both parties instead of delivering a one-sided speech. This is their big day, after all!
Gather Your Material
Now that the etiquette guidelines have been set, it’s time to start crafting your speech! Staring at a blank page can be seriously intimidating, so we recommend taking the pressure off and using a brainstorming session to get those creative juices flowing instead.
Grab a notebook and pen and take a trip down memory lane with these helpful prompts below:
- What are your favourite qualities and personality traits of the bride/groom?
- What are some examples of those traits in action?
- How did you meet both halves of the couple?
- What was your first impression of them, and how has this evolved?
- What are your favourite memories and experiences together?
- What do you admire about their relationship?
- What makes them such a great match?
- What do you hope for them in the future?
You might find it helpful to look back on old photos or even chat amongst other close friends and family members for further inspiration. Brainstorming your way through these prompts will give you the bones of a memorable, fun and personal speech, with plenty of material to work with.
Structuring Your Speech
Now for the fun part – pulling your speech together! A great wedding speech will usually include the following key elements. You can use these elements as a simple outline to build your speech around:
- Words of thanks
- Personal anecdotes
- Praise for the relationship
Open your speech by introducing yourself and your relationship to the couple. Your opening line could be as simple as:
“Hi everybody! For those who don’t know me, I’m (name), and I’m (bride/groom name)’s (sister/best man/maid of honour/etc).”
If you’re going for a more humorous approach, you could follow your introduction by cracking a joke to break the ice, such as:
“Just a couple of rules before we begin. If you have a mobile phone – that’s fine, leave it switched on, entertain yourselves. And if anyone texts you any good jokes, could you send them my way?”
“When I first sat down and started reflecting on what I wanted to say here tonight, I kept thinking to myself, ‘I can’t believe (name) is getting married in less than an hour.”
Words of thanks
Welcoming guests and sharing some words of appreciation is always a nice touch, especially if the couple isn’t planning on making their own speech. You might want to include a special thanks to guests who have travelled, or for those who have helped with the wedding planning. For example:
“I’d like to thank you all for being here today to celebrate the marriage of (name) to (name), especially for those who have travelled far and wide. I’d also like to thank everyone who has helped in the lead up to the wedding in whatever way possible, big or small – you’ve all played a part to make the day special.”
This is the heart and soul of your speech! Look back on your brainstorming session and pick out some of your favourite memories as you begin to address the couple more personally. You might want to kick things off by talking about your relationship with the person you’re closest to, before sharing a fun anecdote or highlighting their best qualities. For example:
“I’ve known (name) all my life – we’ve laughed together, cried together, and watched way too many episodes of Friends together. I’ll never forget the time we (insert a funny anecdote or favourite memory)”
“I’ve had the privilege of growing up with (name), and so I couldn’t go past this opportunity to share some of my favourite memories of them. We’ve certainly shared some interesting moments – from the time we (insert a funny anecdote), to the time we (insert a favourite memory)”
“For those who know (name) well, I think we can all agree that one of her best qualities is her spontaneous nature. This was definitely highlighted when we (insert a funny anecdote or two).”
Next, you’ll want to expand on your relationship with their partner. For example:
“When (name) introduced me to (name), I had a good feeling about him immediately. I couldn’t think of anyone better suited for my (sister/friend/etc) – he’s funny, kind, intelligent, and most importantly – shares our family’s love for bad jokes and boardgames”
“I remember when (name) returned from his first date with (name). I’m not joking when I say he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face for the next 3 days! And when I met (name) a few weeks later, it all made sense. (Name), you’re an absolute catch, and one of the sweetest people I know. Thank you for being such an amazing partner to my best mate”
“I’ve known (name) for a long time, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen him as happy as he’s been since knowing (name). (Name), you have such a big heart and you truly light up a room. You’ve fit so perfectly into our family and we couldn’t imagine our lives without you in it!”
Praise for the relationship
Next, share some praise for the couple and what you admire about their relationship. This is where you’ll want to bring it back to what this day is all about! For example:
“I think everyone here will agree that you two are a perfect match. From the way (name) supports (name)’s online shopping addiction, to your shared love of dogs and the crazy adventures you take together, I’m so happy that you’ve each found your soulmate and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to watch your relationship grow from the very beginning, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen two people so in love. The way you support each other and experience life together is beautiful to witness, and I just know that your marriage will be filled with passion, happiness and adventure”
End your speech by asking guests to raise their glasses for a toast. This is a great time to include a meaningful quote, words of marriage advice, or wishes for the future. For example:
“So with that being said, I’d like to invite everyone to raise their glasses and toast the newlyweds as they embark on this exciting journey together. Here’s to the happy couple – we love you guys!”
“If everyone could please raise their glasses for the newlyweds – I’d like to wish you both a lifetime of love, happiness, romance and adventure together. Cheers!”
“As you embark on this new chapter together, I wanted to leave you with a quote: A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Ladies and gents, please raise your glasses and join me in toasting the newlyweds – cheers!”
Nailing Your Wedding Speech
Once you’ve crafted your wedding speech, remember: practice makes perfect, so alleviate those public speaking nerves by rehearsing your speech until you feel confident and comfortable with the material. Notecards are a great resource to keep you on track, but try not to rely on them – it’s okay not to follow your script word for word. Instead, allow yourself to be swept up in the moment and enjoy the experience!
While it might seem scary, being asked to deliver a wedding speech is actually an honour and shows just how much the newlyweds value your relationship. Simply follow our pointers above, and you’ll be sure to bring down the house with a memorable speech written from the heart.
Looking for more wedding guest tips? Check out our guide on exactly what to write in a wedding card here!