Nothing can strike fear in the heart of a bridesmaid or groomsman more than being asked to give a speech at the wedding. I will spare you the song and dance about how honored you should feel for being asked to say a few words because unless you are really comfortable in front of a crowd of your peers and strangers alike, chances are you are a bundle of nerves! And it’s totally normal to feel like a puddle at just the thought of public speaking. Nobody wants to embarrass themself, or the bride and groom, by bombing on a wedding toast, so let’s get you prepped to give a wedding speech that doesn’t suck.
Start your speech by introducing yourself, and telling the wedding guests how you know the bride and groom, and/or why they are special to you. Express gratitude for the honor of being chosen to speak at their wedding (even if you don’t feel that way!) Then be sure to give a shout out to anybody who made special efforts to attend, like the elderly, the heavily pregnant, those who have traveled a huge distance, and so on.
Keep in mind that you will be addressing a very mixed audience. That fantastic story about how the groom earned his embarrassing nickname might be hilarious among your closest friends, but maybe not to his grandparents. Keep inside jokes and references to a minimum. This is not the time to show off what great friends you are with the bride and groom, you will only alienate a section of your audience and make them feel left out.
Give a little anecdote about the bride and/or groom. But choose that story wisely. You likely have some wild and crazy stories about the newlyweds that you could share. DON’T! This is not the bachelor party. Avoid talking about any past mischief or misbehavior. Off-limits topics include Exes, infidelity, and doubts they had about getting married. Don’t even go there.
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This is an emotional day for many, so please avoid any negativity. You are allowed to poke a little fun at the groom (within reason, remember this a toast, not a roast!) but always flatter the bride and say nothing but wonderful things about her….even if you have to stretch it a bit! If you really think she’s loud and obnoxious, then she’s the life of the party. If you think she’s dull, then she’s down to earth. If you think she’s bitchy, then she’s self-confident. Find a positive spin on everything.
You can then sum up by mentioning the happiness you have seen in the newlyweds since they met. You might be relieved to know that the average wedding speech is only two minutes long, and you should aim to take no longer than 3-4 minutes tops. So keep it short! You are not the only one giving a speech. If you find adhering to this time frame difficult, be aware of how many times you are using the words ‘I’, ‘My’ or ‘Me’. This isn’t about you. It’s about the people getting married. You will not only bore people by yammering on and on, but you will also come across as pompous.
If you are wondering whether or not to include something in your speech, then leave it out. Listen to your instincts and use your best judgment. It would be smart to test out your speech on different types of people and omit anything that they think anything is below the belt.
This is the most important tip of all! You must be sincere in who you are, or everyone will just end up feeling uncomfortable. If you aren’t funny, don’t try to be! You do not need to be a comedian to give a great wedding speech. The bride and groom obviously love you for who you are, so be confident in that!
And finally, finish it all off by raising your glass and wishing the bride and groom a life full of happiness. Bada-bing bada-boom, you’re done!
Good luck! Follow these tips, and I’m sure you will deliver a wedding speech that doesn’t suck!
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