Everything you need to know about wedding speeches

Happy Sunday everyone. The closer it gets to your wedding day, the more Sunday’s you’re probably spending frantically planning last-minute details. I’ve written about who should get to make speeches before but I’ve not really written anything that helps you figure out what to say. There are some handy examples on Hitched, but if you’d like a template instead, welcome to…

Under the Vintage Veil’s handy guide to wedding speeches!

Image courtesy of the very lovely Rosie Woodhouse at Little People Portraits Skye 

The Groom – or the bride – or both!

I’ve made this sort of gender equal. Not every groom likes the limelight, and some brides may prefer to speak in public. Some couples make their speeches together, so I’ve tried to make this as accessible and generic as possible.

In my humble opinion, the groom’s / bride’s speech isn’t supposed to be five minutes of stand up (that’s what the best man is for). I think the speech where couples address each other is an opportunity to make everyone in the room melt. I once went to a wedding where the groom made the most gorgeous speech. It was simple, humble and heartfelt and totally unexpected as he wasn’t exactly known for his romantic character! So for those struggling with their speech, here’s a little help:

Thank everyone. OK, not everyone, people will get bored, but thank everyone who matters, it’s customary to thank guests for coming, especially when they’ve come from far away. It’s also particularly important to thank your parents, your bride’s parents and your new family. I don’t mean that you should just thank them for all their help with the wedding, but for raising you, for bringing up your bride and for all their love and support over the years and (in the case of your new family) for accepting you into their family. Now is also a time to mention loved ones who can’t be there.

Talk about your bride or groom – perhaps a funny anecdote about when you were getting together (keep it clean, you don’t want to end up sleeping on the floor on your wedding night). For example, when John and I first met I called him an idiot – who would have thought that a couple of years later we’d be tying the knot and I’d be a vintage wedding blogger by profession?

Lead this on to talk about how you feel about your bride / groom, how you felt when you first saw them on the wedding day, what you’re most looking forward to about being married and then toast your bride or groom.

Father of the bride

Perhaps one of the most difficult speeches. Weddings can be a difficult day for dad, not because of some patriarchal idea that he’s giving his daughter away, but every dad worth his salt wants his daughter to be happy – and no matter how much he likes your groom, he will no doubt feel protective and anxious / hopeful that you’re making the right choice with your life. But how to express that sense of letting go combined with his best wishes for the future… well:

Start with your reaction to hearing your daughter was getting married. Were you happy? Furious? Amused? Now is the time to make a little joke, but if your reaction really was horrific it may not be worth opening up old wounds! Or perhaps if you weren’t happy at first but your opinion changed it may be appropriate to make a joke about that, or even the right time to reassure the groom that you’ve changed your mind.

Lead on to an affectionate anecdote about your daughter growing up. Make it relevant to the skills she’ll need to make a marriage work. This can be funny but try not to be insulting – you don’t want to make her cry for the wrong reasons.

Talk about how you feel meeting her husband has impacted her life – is she different now? Talk about their relationship and the reasons their marriage will be a strong one. 

Say something sentimental – that you’re proud of your daughter, how beautiful she looks, how you felt walking her down the aisle etc.

End by toasting the newlyweds and telling them your wishes for their future together.

The maid of honour 

I’m sure my maids of honour (I have two) will be reading this and laughing (probably an evil, super villain laugh). The maid of honour speech really depends on how long you’ve known the bride. My maids of honour have known me my whole life so they have a lifetime of blood-curdlingly embarrassing anecdotes and pictures of me as a kid with my finger up my nose or something. But it’s not all about embarrassing the bride – here’s a little template to help you out.

Start by saying how long you’ve known the bride and list some of the things you’ve been through together (don’t get too personal here!) This is the point where you can get your embarrassing anecdote out the way (I’m pretty sure the fact that I once wanted to marry all of Hanson is going to come up!)

Lead in to saying what you think about the groom, how he’s enriched your friend’s life, give him some advice about being married to your friend (poor John may need a lot of advice!)

Talk about how happy you are for the couple, how much you’re looking forward to being a part of their future and wish them a lifetime of happiness (or paraphrase!)

The best man

Definitely the hardest speech by a long shot. Mainly because, while the others can be sentimental and sweet, the best man’s speech is expected to be both witty and appropriate. Not an easy feat! So with that in mind…

Open with a joke. Sorry, I can’t write the joke for you, it’s too personal a speech!

Say how long your friend has been with his wife and how you felt about them getting married – a little bit about the bride here. Be humorous but flattering.

A witty anecdote about your friend – keep it relatively clean but embarrass him just a little bit! Some people say ex-girlfriends aren’t necessarily out of bounds… to be honest I wouldn’t be thrilled if J’s best man brought up the dreaded ex on the biggest day of our lives so personally I don’t think it’s worth the laugh! Further to that, under no circumstances should any gory details be disclosed – his new bride won’t want to hear it, neither will both families!

What kind of a man is your friend? List his qualities – another opportunity to be funny!

What kind of impact has the bride made on your friend’s life? Wish them happiness and toast to their future.

Under the Vintage Veil’s wedding speech dos and don’ts!


Keep it between three and five minutes. Any more and people will get bored, any less and you’ll look like you haven’t tried!

Wait until after you’ve finished your speech to hit the booze – there are other ways to curb your nerves.

Speak loudly and clearly and don’t rush or mumble! Practice pacing yourself and delivering the speech, not just reading it out, including pausing in the right places.

Keep a bottle of rescue remedy handy should last-minute nerves kick in.

Talk directly to the bride and groom if you’re nervous, it makes it feel less formal.

Make bullet point notes to help you along.


Ramble on and on for hours. Weddings run to a schedule – stick to it!

Bring up exes or describe anything inappropriate in graphic detail. The day is about the bride and groom after all!

Be insulting or rude… nobody will forgive you for it!

Reveal anything too scandalous – nothing that will result in a quickie annulment anyway!

Do you have any speech advice for the uninitiated? Are you dreading making a wedding speech? Leave us a comment below! 


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