How to be happy making a speech at a wedding

Publishing so many weddings on the blog means I get to see hundreds of photos of wedding speeches. I see the rooms full of guests smiling up at the speechmakers. I see the newlyweds glowing with pride, bursting with laughter or wiping away emotional tears. I see speeches done well – and honestly, I rarely see a wedding speech which doesn’t appear to be done well.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ll be making a speech at a wedding. And I’m assuming you might need a little confidence boost to go with that. I have just the gentle guidance you’ll need… I recommend you watch this:

John-Paul’s advice in the video is reassuring and helpful:

  • You don’t have to give the best speech in the world – just be “good enough”. It takes the pressure off.
  • Plan your speech, but be ready to adapt to the situation
  • Think about the purpose of your speech (perhaps to be quick, give everyone a good time and remind everyone how much we love the couple)
  • Sketch out your content – maybe a list of 3 things you’ll talk about.
  • Consider your style. You could interact a little with the audience, or you could use props (but keep them entertaining and simple)
  • Memorise what you need to. (This is a really great section from John-Paul – do watch the video to find out what – if anything – you ‘should’ memorise, and how.)
  • Deliver your speech. Take your time. See your audience, and like them. They’re good people, and they want to like you back.

The best wedding speech I ever witnessed was incredibly short. It didn’t go to plan. But I will remember it forever in the very best way and for all the right reasons.

My cousin was getting married. She’d been with her partner for a few years, they were absolutely made for each other, but they’d had to go through some tough times together. At one point, her partner had to move to Berlin to follow his dreams. After a short separation, they realised they couldn’t live without each other, and the rest is history.

The best man at their wedding was a lovely guy with a cracking sense of humour. He wasn’t shy to stand before the crowd and talk, and I’m sure he had a brilliant speech planned. But on the day, as he spoke about how they almost didn’t make it, he was so overcome with emotion he cried. He was so happy for them, he couldn’t speak. And it was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

He sat down in floods of happy tears to a huge round of applause from a room of people who shared his love for a very special couple.

Wedding speech etiquette for the 2020s

I’ve never been a great believer in etiquette or wedding traditions.

Wedding speeches can cause all kinds of panic, so please don’t feel you have to stick to tradition:

  • Don’t expect a speech from anyone who won’t be comfortable making one
  • Ask your most capable and entertaining guests if they’d like to speak instead
  • You don’t have to have ANY wedding speeches if you don’t want to
  • Switch things up if you’re having a micro wedding. Perhaps everyone could prepare to share a really short ‘favourite memory’ of the couple (funny, sweet or nostalgic) instead of any formal speeches
  • Above all, don’t stick to the traditional format (father of the bride, groom, best man). It’s patriarchal and outdated, and why?!
We have more helpful advice about wedding speeches to share with you.

Lovely wedding planner and stylist Jenna Hewitt wrote a fantastic article for us about modern wedding speech etiquette.

How to bend the rules with wedding speeches! An article by Jenna Hewitt

Our friend Nathan, Dorset wedding photographer at Libra Photographic, shared 8 memorable best man jokes from weddings he’s photographed – and the reactions they get!

8 memorable Best Man jokes I hear while at a wedding

I reviewed “A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech” by John-Paul Flintoff, which I highly recommend for anyone who might be nervous about making a speech (at a wedding) and could use a little gentle encouragement. – It’s a book which has stuck with me, and covers all kinds of public speaking.

James Evans wrote a piece for us called ‘How to write the perfect Best Man’s speech‘ – which has a few more nice tips we haven’t covered here.


Further reading:

Check out The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on the Gay Wedding Guide

This wedding speech article on Hitched is a nice, helpful read. Top tip: don’t mention Brexit!

For Best Men, Stagweb has some straightforward speech tips (Powerpoint is a no!)