The Most Important Speech You'll Ever Make

The Groom Speech is a really busy speech. There are a lot of bases to hit – you’ve got all the acknowledgements, thanks and tributes, and if you’re not careful that can easily unravel into one long procession of thanking people, and several hours of your life you’ll never get back.

However, it is an amazing opportunity to say lovely things about people who are, or have been, important in your life, and you really need to make the most of it, because whilst it’s 10 minutes or so on the day, it’s something that will stick with you for the rest of your days, and so getting it right is very important.

You need to make all those thanks, acknowledgements and welcomes, in the most creative and entertaining way possible, and the magic ingredient is humour. If you can make people laugh in an original and personal way, they will love you for it and listen to everything you’ve got to say, and it acts as a perfect balance for some of the more profound things you might like to say.

On this page I’ve written out pretty much every idea, hints and tips that you’re ever going to need to write a really great groom speech.

How To Write a Great Groom Speech

Here’s a short video with all my hints and tips for writing a great groom speech. I’ve expanded on those thoughts and ideas on this page to give you the complete guide to writing your own.

Quick Links

Opening Thanks Journeys Parents Best Man Bridesmaids The Bride Divorced Parents Absent Friends Gifts Humour Delivery Stag Weekend Toasts

Structure

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Opening Lines

This is very straightforward. I am not a fan of clichés in wedding speeches and avoid them as much as possible, with one notable exception, and that’s the opening lines of the groom speech. There really is no better way to kick off the speech and to get people cheering from the beginning, than to welcome everyone on behalf of ‘my wife and I’. It works every single time, and anyone looking to better it, really is trying too hard to be different, sometimes, and only very rarely, the dusty old wedding clichés get it spot on.

EXAMPLE:

“Good afternoon everyone…on behalf of my wife and I…thanks you all so much for being here with us, and making to day today even more special….even the best man Dave”

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, it is so wonderful to have you all here with us today, it really does mean a great deal to us both…I’m just glad that the best man Dave made it here in one piece…because the last thing I heard his full time carers weren’t going to release him”

Special Thanks

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I like to include any thanking that needs to be done at the top of the speech and to get it out of the way as early as possible. These thank yous should only ever be reserved for friends and family that have really helped you out with the wedding plans and/or on the day, and if possible group them together so you’re not reading out a list of individual thanks. If you do attempt to do this it’s going to be very tedious to listen to, lose all impact and really start to rack up the word count. Whatever you do don’t be tempted to start thanking the venue, the caterers, photographer etc. They are all being paid handsomely, and really, they should be thanking you!

EXAMPLES:

“I would like to thank Uncle Dave for coming all the way from Australia to the UK…which, let’s face it, is just like Australia but with slightly more swimming gold medals and slightly fewer blokes with non ironic mullets”

“I would really like to thank Mary for all her hard work making our cake, and for Cassie for making all the beautiful bridesmaids dresses, thanks to them you haven’t had to look at, or eat anything or look at anything that I’ve been responsible for which can only be a good thing. I have on the other hand been responsible for the free bar which I’m not saying is as good as a dress…but it’s a pretty close second.”

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Journeys

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Some people go to extraordinary efforts and expense to be make it to weddings on the other side of the world, and quite rightly that should be publicly recognised in the groom speech. You should try to group these together as much as possible, so if you’ve got several different guests coming all the way from New York, out them under one umbrella and avoid thanking them individually. It’s also an opportunity to have some fun with where they’ve come from and where the wedding is, so a comparison between Los Angeles and Stevenage is ripe for the picking. Maybe as a pay off you could offer some way in which all that effort is going to be worthwhile such as the free bar/meal/watching you dance.

EXAMPLES:

‘Don’t worry uncle Dave your carbon footprint all becomes worthwhile when you see me dancing later on”

“I would like to thank Dave for coming all the way from New York, not saying that dave’s usually late but to get him here on time we actually told him the wedding was last week.”

Absent Friends

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There should only be one absent friends toast is the series of wedding speeches, and that’s usually taken care of by the groom. I like to put the absent friend’s toast towards the start of the speech because you want to end it on a positive, celebratory note and not to bring things down.

It all depends on how close your relationship was with friends and family that have passed away, but obviously the closer you were, the more detail you’re going to put into this section. Parents who have died, deserve a really special mention, and as difficult as it may be, you’re still going to have to treat this as an overview, and don’t be tempted to go into too much detail. The day is about one person: the bride, and you need to keep the spotlight on her – in other words don’t write a mini eulogy.

Example:

“Unfortunately, my father cannot be with us today. He was a much loved family man, son, uncle and friend to many, and he is missed greatly every day.”

Your Parents

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This is pretty much the only time in your life that you’re going to stand up and tell a room full of people what amazing parents you have, and what a great job they’ve done, so don’t blow it. You need to say as succinctly as possible how much you love and respect them for the years of sacrifice, hard work and generally putting up with you. Again, recounting specific stories here really eats into the words, and I would only ever use one if it had a killer punchline. Talking about your parents is always fertile ground for having some fun, and will balance out the more heartfelt things you might like to say, so what is it that you have, or haven’t, inherited from your parents, and how can you make that funny?

EXAMPLES:

“Dad, I would like to thank you for passing on your brains…well, I say thank you but as they only led me to becoming an estate agent, the juries out as to exactly how useful they really have been.”

“Dad, thanks for the hair genetics, you really shouldn’t have. I mean you REALLY shouldn’t have.”

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Bride's Parents

What you’re looking to do here is achieve roughly the same world count for both sets of parents. Focussing on one set of parents is the kind of thing that really sticks out in a speech, and usually grooms are guilty of giving their new in laws the big up, and skimping on their own mum and dad, so make sure it’s even. Here you talk about how they’ve welcomed you and what it is about them that you love so much. If there’s any conflict between you and either your parents and/or the bride’s, then just glide over it. Don’t use the speech as attempt to point score, as it will only backfire.

The Best Man

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I much prefer to handle the best man in the middle of the speech and avoid any clumsy handover at the end, because I believe the conclusion of your speech should be all about the bride. You need to say what a great friend/brother he has been and how much better your life has been for having him in it. Then you need to find a way of having some fun with his character and exploiting some of his weaknesses etc. that might suggest why his judgment could be poor.

EXAMPLES:

“Jake is an estate agent, he’s paid to tell lies, so prepare yourself for some of his most creative work yet!”

“It should be noted that Dave is a Sunderland fan and so has never been amongst a crowd of happy people before and will probably react by creating controversy just s he can feel comfortable again.”

The Ushers

It’s just a small thing but in Britain we have Ushers, not groomsmen. Groomsmen is an American term that seems to have found its way into the British lexicon. When you’re thanking ushers keep it general, light and funny, and please don’t find things to say about each and every one, otherwise we’re going to be here all day. This should be fun as well, so if there’s a way of collectively having a laugh with them, exploit it. If you are going to mention the stag weekend, and it’s not something I’d recommend, then do it here, and go light on detail.

The Bridesmaids

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It’s your job to talk about and toast the bridesmaids, not the best man. You need to mention them by name, and say what a great group of friends/sisters they have been and how great it is that you’ve got them in your life as well. You could thank them for organising the hen weekend, and say what a culturally enriching experience that was for all concerned. If this involves sisters you should say how amazing it is to now be related…even if you don’t mean it! The toast at the end is the only toast that the groom has to make.

EXAMPLES:

‘Sarah, you are an amazing sister to Jane, and I am so happy that we are now officially family…you don’t have to agree but at least I come with access to free plant machinery hire”

“ladies you all look absolutely amazing, the facts that there are seven of you, and one looks quite grumpy is in no way going to lead me make any Disney comparisons”

The Bride

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This is the conclusion of the speech and in reality, should make up about 30% of the total word count. In these words you need to describe how you met, what an incredible positive impact she’s had on your life, what her character is like, what she mean to you and how you proposed. This cannot be one huge chunk of emotion, there needs to be light and shade, funny ideas and observations about your new wife always go down well, and you should sprinkle these throughout. A common mistake is to repeat what you’ve already said but in a slightly different way. So, if you’ve said how much you love her on one way, then that’s enough.

The Final Toast – You’re looking to finish the speech in the most succinct way possible so don’t drag it out too long. I always avoid toasting the bride in isolation, it’s never felt right and I think in the celebration of marriage only toasting one half is a little weird. Instead, just make it a general health/happiness toast and you’re done.

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Other Things To Consider

Delivery

Divorced Parents

This is a really common tricky area, and on that needs to be handled very carefully especially if new partners are involved. Take them one at a time and make sure you give each parent an equal measure. If their new partners have been around for a long time and have had a big impact on your life, then this needs to be recognised. I usually start with the father, but with Jewish weddings you should probably start with the mother. What you’re looking to do is not give any opportunity for inequality, so don’t wax lyrical about your dad’s new partner and go light on your mum – the ramifications of this speech will last for many years. If either parent has a very new partner on the scene, then it’s best to just omit them altogether.

Humour

This is a hugely important ingredient to any really great groom speech. If you make people laugh, they’ll love you for it and listen to everything you’ve got to say, and it acts as the perfect balance to some of the more profound things you might like to say. However, when it comes to jokes and comedy, I’m not talking about the scripted gags you’ll find on the internet, this is about working out how to make situations and events in your life funny when you’re introducing people and thanking them. Work out what it is that’s funny about your new father in law and have some fun with it. What is it that your new wife doesn’t like about you? How can you exploit your best man’s character flaws? There’s comedy gold out there, you just have to look for it!

Length

The groom’s speech is the one that can run away with you and take on epic proportions if you’re not careful. The main problem is that most grooms want to include far too many people in the speech and talk about them in fat too much detail, and there simply isn’t time to do that. You should really aim for a total word count of 1400 words, which on the day, when read at a steady pace will come in at around the 10 minute mark, maybe a touch longer with stoppages. Speeches always take longer on the day than they do when you’re practicing at home, but if you’re looking at anything over 1500 words then it really is time to snip a few words here and there. You’ve also got to bear in mind that if the Father of the bride has spoken for a while and you’re up for half an hour, guests will have sat through an hour of speeches before they get to the best man, and that’s way too long.

Lead The Way

Most grooms don’t make the most of their position, and that’s a shame because as the guy in charge you can do your bit to ensure that the speeches are a huge hit, and not several hours of your life you’ll never get back. So, the first thing to do is make all the other speakers agree to a maximum word count, the more speakers there are, the less each individual word count should be. With 3 speakers it should be 1400 each, and then with 4 speakers 1200 each, and so on. You should also make sure that you’re not doubling up on any content, so ensure that each of the toasts are given only once, and then if you’ve mentioned a close relative who has passed away the best man isn’t also planning some kind of tribute. Avoiding repetition is the aim of the game.

Gifts

Many grooms see the speech as an opportunity to dish out a little treat to people that have helped and who also mean a lot to them, unfortunately it’s one of the most counterproductive things you can do in a speech. Making the whole room twiddle their thumbs whilst various people make their way up to the top table to collect tankards etc. not only makes the speech unbearably long, but also it stops it dead in its tracks. Forward momentum is the key to a great speech and the last thing you want to do is have to get everyone back on board again. I always recommend handing out the gifts in a private moment on the morning of the wedding.

Toasts

The maximum number of toasts I would have is 4. You need a general toast at the end, a toast to the bridesmaids, a toast to the parents, and also a toast to those no longer with us. Of course, this is completely optional but ending your speech without a toast would be odd and also tradition states that you should toast the bridesmaids, so if you’re going to drop any of them it should be the parents and those departed. I would resist the urge to make more than four toasts, so forget the best man, ushers, helpers etc.

Balance

One of the pitfalls of a groom speech is having no balance to it because you’re far too keen to talk about your bride. Diving straight in to the subject of the groom might seem like a great idea, but the latter end of the speech and conclusion should all be about her, and so there’s no point in beginning the speech talking about her and then ending it talking about her. I have seen many groom speeches which are only made up of talking about the bride and how amazing she is. You can try it, but it won’t work.

Stag Weekend

Ok, it was a great few days away in Magaluf, Berlin or Ljubljana, but those things are best shared with all the survivors at the pub rather than in the groom speech. Of course, you can thank the best man for organising a great stag weekend, but don’t isolate the rest of the room by recounting stories that make 6 people laugh and the rest of the room scratching their heads. All too often it comes across as boorish and a little conceited, and so far, has never made it into any groom speech that I’ve ever written.

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