As a groom, making your speech can be one of the most daunting parts of the wedding planning journey.
There is a lot to consider including the length of the speech, the structure and who to thank. What's more, you're likely to be following on from the father of the bride speech, and he could have set the bar pretty high!
With this in mind, we spoke to two experts, Adrian from All Speeches Great and Small and Heidi from Speechy, to find out what it really takes to deliver a great groom speech.
Image - Emily Black Photography
What makes a good groom's speech?
Adrian explained how a good groom speech combines a number of elements: "A great groom speech should be a really good dollop of entertainment and fun, whilst at the same time acknowledging what a very special moment this is. It’s your chance to stand up and acknowledge the people who have brought you to this point and of course to talk about the person you’ve been lucky enough to marry."
READ MORE: 17 Thoughts Every Groom Will Have
How should you start your groom’s speech?
Heidi from Speechy advises that the best way to begin your groom speech is ‘quickly’.
She says: “Grooms often make the mistake of thinking they should sound formal and get overly stressed about following traditional etiquette. The aim is to get people laughing as soon as possible, certainly within the first three lines of your speech as it puts everyone listening at ease.”
READ MORE: Wedding Speech Introduction Examples
As well as keeping it light and funny, Adrian points out that it’s important to address the father of the bride and thank him for his speech: “Make it a warm and inclusive introduction, however don’t be tempted to detail his financial contribution. A reference to his generosity should be sincere buy very general.”
SEE MORE: Father of the Bride Example Speeches
How can you inject humour into your groom's speech?
Adrian says that humour is the most important ingredient of any speech: “There’s a lot of emotion on the big day and making people laugh with some wedding jokes or amusing stories is the best way to balance that out.”
Image - Chris Barber Photography
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If jokes aren’t your thing, fear not as Heidi insists that getting the wedding party to laugh is by joking about more personal things that everyone can relate to.
“Are you already concerned that your bride’s ‘pinot posse’ have started chatting up the bar staff? Or are you finding it hard to recognise your middle aged cycling buddies in clothes that they usually wouldn’t be seen dead in? Make your humour personal and seemingly spontaneous – your guests will really appreciate it!”
READ MORE: Funny Wedding Jokes for Your Speech
Adrian advises grooms to steer away from a speech that’s more of a ‘dry procession of thanks’ as you’ll struggle to keep your guests’ attention – so even if you’re not a naturally charismatic person, make sure your personality shines through above the mere thank-yous.
Who should a groom be thanking during his wedding speech?
Traditionally, the groom will need to thank the following:
- Everyone for coming
- His parents
- His partner’s parents
- His best man and ushers
- The maid of honour and bridesmaids
Heidi advises that although there are probably plenty of other people who you would love to thank for their contributions and help towards your special day, try to avoid thanking half of the guest list.
READ MORE: The Order of Wedding Speeches Explained
When it comes to thanking parents, there’s one thing Adrian warns grooms to be careful of: “Don’t fall into the trap of waxing lyrical about your new parents in law for several paragraphs, dismissing your own parents in a sentence. They should both be given equal measure.”
How much of a groom’s speech should be dedicated to their partner?
Agreeing with Adrian, Heidi suggests that your new partner should be the main focus of your speech: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to drop a public love-bomb on your partner and considering they’ve just agreed to tolerate all of your habits and box sets for the rest of their life, it’s the least you can do!
Image - David Anson Photography
“Remember, every groom thinks his partner is gorgeous, kind and generally amazing so avoid cliché terms and words and concentrate on what makes them unique. Nailing their individual and quirky characteristics shows that you really get your new husband or wife and your friends and family will love you for that.”
READ MORE: Romantic Ways to Surprise Your Partner on Your Wedding Day
Should you give out thank you gifts during your groom’s speech?
Both Heidi and Adrian agreed on the answer to this question – no!
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Heidi advises that if you’re planning on giving thank you gifts to bridesmaids, parents or anyone else, either do it earlier on in the day or announce that you’ll be personally thanking them later as to not disrupt the speech.
She says: “Gift-giving is basically an excuse for guests to start checking their Whatsapp!”
How should you structure a groom's speech?
Adrian says: “There are lots of people to talk about and you should deal with them one at a time and avoid repetition. So resist the urge to launch straight into how amazing your new partner looks and then pepper the speech with references to them. They are the star of the show so save the latter half of the speech to be dedicated to them and what they mean to you.”
READ MORE: Celebrity Wedding Speeches You Need to See
Image - Silent Valley Photography
What’s the ideal length for a groom’s speech?
Both Heidi and Adrian advise grooms to make their speeches around eight-or-so minutes long.
READ MORE: Example Wedding Speeches
Adrian says that the length of a groom’s speech can really make or break it: “Too short and people are going to be wondering why you bothered. Too long and nobody will be listening. Keep it to a ‘stand up sit to sit down’ time of 10 minutes – that’s a talking time of around eight minutes and the rest will be made up from laughter, applause and heckles.”
Agreeing with Adrian’s point, Heidi also stressed the importance of not boring people with a lengthy speech, but also not coming across like you’re enjoying the attention a little too much.
How much detail should you go into in a groom's speech?
Adrian explained that it’s too much detail that really slows a speech down: “A great speech demands the very least from the guests in order for them to enjoy it, so now is not the time to recount exactly how you know each of the ushers individually. A good guide is to aim for a total of 1,350 words – if you’re edging well over that, then it’s time to strip out some of the content.”
READ MORE: Grooming Tips for the Groom
How should you end your groom's speech?
According to Adrian: “Tradition says that you should end on a toast to the bridesmaids and a little aside to the best man. I’ve never found this works – in my opinion the focus of the speech should be exclusively on your partner, that’s why I suggest toasting to the bridesmaids earlier in the speech and making the final words all about your partner.
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“You should have talked about the best man earlier in the speech but there’s no harm in having a quick one-liner referencing him at the end but make sure it’s after the final toast.”
How can a groom tackle nerves before his speech?
Speechy’s Heidi has a lot of advice when it comes to calming nerves around your wedding speech, starting with just how important the planning and preparation is.
“The key to being confident on the day is writing a wedding speech that’s so good you can’t wait to deliver it. If you know you’re going to make your friends laugh, your mum cry and your bride love you even more then you’ll ooze confidence whilst delivering your speech.”
SEE MORE: The Best Examples of Groom's Speeches
Image - Pauly Wright
Heidi’s Top Tips for Nerves
Film yourself – Use your phone to film yourself practising your speech. Watch it back and channel your inner Simon Cowell – work out how your delivery could be improved and what you would change.
Dutch courage isn’t always the answer – Although lots of grooms swear by a bit of Dutch courage, this is based in wishful thinking rather than solid science!
Smile and breathe – It may sound obvious but taking a deep breath is surprisingly effective at reducing those stress nerves and smiling is scientifically proven to be infectious, making them a fool-proof combination.
Still feeling nervous? Fear not - here's our guide to tacking and overcoming wedding speech nerves!