The groom’s speech is, most certainly, one of the key moments on any wedding day. It’s when he thanks attendees and anyone who contributed to the day, but, more importantly, it’s when he celebrates his new wife or husband, and describes their relationship’s journey – their ‘love story’. We asked Toastmasters member and celebrated groom-speech deliverer Gareth Bird to write down his best tips for giving your groom speech on your wedding day. Read on to discover Gareth's easy-to-follow tips for acing yours...
At most heterosexual weddings, the groom’s speech is the part of the celebration during which he is, for once, the centre of attention. This can be a nerve-wracking prospect. For weddings with two grooms, there may also be the added pressure of everyone comparing what you say (if you both decide to deliver one). However, with practice and preparation, delivering your groom speech can also be a wonderfully memorable and enjoyable experience. Follow my five easy steps, and you might just find that making your groom speech becomes one of your favourite memories from the day.
1. Don’t leave it to the last minute
My number one bit of advice is, of course: don’t leave things until too late. In the run up to the big day, you’ll have lots of other things to sort out. Therefore, thinking about your speech early on gives you the space to think it over in the back of your mind before revisiting it. I started thinking about my wedding speech about six weeks prior to the day; this gave me plenty of time to create a good structure, refine the details and practise out loud.
2. Pay attention to structure
Your first step should be to create a simple outline of your speech. Thankfully for the groom, this should be relatively straightforward, as long as you follow the golden rule: nothing is more important than speaking about your new wife or husband!
The other sections of your speech should not be longer or sincerer than the words you say about the person you’ve just married. Talk about why you made the decision to marry one another, why you admire your partner and perhaps include a touching anecdote or two. It’s still important for you to thank the most important guests: both sets of parents, the groomsmen and bridesmaids should usually cover this – but don’t belabour it beyond two to three lines for each! Lastly, write out an introduction and conclusion. Having an intro prepared when taking centre stage or handing over to the next person in your conclusion will look slick and will help put you at ease.
3. Get help
Following on from the above, confirm with the day’s other speech-givers the running order, as well as the (broad/general) content of their speech. Traditionally, the order runs, father of the bride, groom, best man, but don’t feel beholden to this. It’s your party after all! And if you think you’ll be nervous, going first is the best way to get it out of the way. Sharing the content of your speeches with each other is also a sensible way to avoid duplicating anecdotes or spoiling jokes.
It’s also a very good idea to ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion on what you’ve prepared. Ask someone who has experience of speech-giving themselves, as well as someone who’ll be honest. This confidant can give you advice on what’s working well, as well as advice on what could be changed or adapted.
4. Practise, practise, practise
As great as your speech may look on paper or in your head, its success will depend on your delivery. Like it or not, this bit requires practise. Find the time and space to say your speech out loud. In the couple of weeks before my wedding, I’d dedicate half an hour at the end of most working days to finding an empty room where I’d practise my volume and pace. The more times I did this, the more variations I was be able to try before settling on one. It also meant I didn’t end up needing to look at my notes on the day, as I’d got to know it so well. How do you think Obama does it?
You can also search for and join local public speaking clubs, such as Toastmasters, where participants develop general public speaking skills. They offer supportive environments to learn among both inexperienced and seasoned speechmakers.
5. Carry notes
Hopefully, if you’ve followed all of this advice, you’ll be well rehearsed and can be confident in what you’ve prepared on the day. Be sure to keep some notes on you, either the speech written in full or on cue cards, depending on what makes you feel more comfortable. Put them in your jacket pocket well ahead of when you’ll be needing them. Even if you’re very confident that you won’t need notes, it’s reassuring to have something to hand – just in case.
My final bit of preparation advice? Prepare to feel nervous. It’s completely normal and is expected of all except the most extraordinary public speakers. My wife knew I was feeling nervous when I turned down extra pudding! Don’t try to suppress these feelings (especially not with alcohol), but instead recognise the energy they give you. Remember, everyone in the audience is willing you (and the other speechmakers) to do well; put yourself in their shoes and enjoy the positivity that is projected toward you at your wedding. It is your (and your partner’s) day, after all.
Truly, if you put all of the above into practice, you can be sure to deliver a fantastic, confident speech, that will be met with huge smiles and even tears of joy. Before you know it, you’ll have finished! And not without a fierce rush of exhilaration.