Have you been asked to write a speech for a loved one’s wedding? Consider it an honor! As couples plan their weddings, choosing VIP guests to have a role on their big day is one of the most meaningful steps. Not only do they want you to be a part of their wedding, but they also trust that you can deliver a great speech that will add to their celebration.
And as Brian Franklin of Vows & Speeches says, “Whether it’s moving, funny, or both—a great speech leaves the couple and the audience happy you were chosen.”
If you’re reading this, it means you want to knock it out of the park for your friend or family member. You’ve already got the right mindset, which is half the battle! So now, we’ll give you the tips you need to write and deliver a great wedding speech.
Remain Polite, Even When Humorous
There are many types of wedding speeches—from the cheeky monologue that gets the room laughing to the sentimental tear-jerker that tugs at the heartstrings. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, a speech should never poke fun or include anything that could come across as offensive to the couple.
“The first rule of thumb is to do no harm,” Franklin says. “These speeches aim to make the couple feel happy and be enjoyable for the audience. It’s not to advance a comedy career or get something off your chest. There’s a way to do it without actually embarrassing or attacking the bride or groom if we’re going for funny.”
So go ahead and crack a few jokes, but keep your speech kind and respectful from start to finish. Remember: Your friend will likely invest in a videographer to capture the moment, so anything you say might get recorded for history!
Make It Short and Sweet
The last thing anyone wants is a speech that leaves guests nodding off after dinner. Keep your message short and simple to avoid hearing snores in the audience. (Don’t worry—you can always write the couple a letter if you have more to say!)
As Franklin shares, “The biggest mistake people make is going on for too long. The speeches we help with are generally 3–4 minutes in length, which is a perfect amount of time to say something meaningful and get people laughing and tearing up, but not so long as it starts to drone on and bore people.”
If even a few minutes seems like more than you can handle, don’t be afraid to get right to the point! All it takes is delivering a few meaningful sentiments and letting the wedding timeline commence.
“I’d like to think of speeches like a good song—if it has a really good meaty story that makes everyone cry and laugh, keep it a few minutes long!” says Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “If you are overly shy and aren’t very expressive—keep it simple. I mean a few sentences! Add on ‘I wish you all the best’ and have a sign-off that is a universal symbol of love and foreverness.”
Don’t Let It Become One-Sided
Chances are you’re a guest of honor on one side of the wedding—but that doesn’t mean your whole speech should revolve around that person!
“Make sure you’re talking about both the bride and the groom, not just the one you know the best,” Franklin says. “Even if you don’t know them well, you can talk about how they’ve (positively) changed by being together. You’re there to honor the relationship and the wedding.”
This isn’t a time to wax poetic about a spring break vacay with your bestie or that time your brother covered for you in front of your parents. Instead, speak about the couple’s relationship and how they’ve helped each other grow. This is their day to celebrate as a unit.
Keep Your Speech on Hand
There’s no need to memorize a wedding speech—especially if you tend to get nervous while public speaking. It’s perfectly acceptable to have something in front of you to read, even if it’s just a few notes!
With that said, “If you are using your phone, be sure to screen capture your notes and outlines,” Sulak encourages. “Seeing people scroll endlessly because they ‘lost their place’ takes a lot of time! If you are using paper, keep it close to you on the wedding day but be mindful of things in your pockets or tucked-in dresses.”
Giving a wedding speech might seem like a lot to take on upfront, but it’s not as high stakes as it seems. There’s no expectation for an Oscar-winning talk! As Sulak states, “it doesn’t have to be a competition, just expressions of love and well wishes.” Keep it short and speak from the heart—you can’t go wrong.