Serving up a great Groom’s Speech

Most people think the Best Man’s speech is the toughest gig at a wedding but I actually think it’s the Groom’s speech. In essence, the Best Man can be the Court Jester whereas the Groom has to be the Prince – welcoming and thanking people, speaking warmly about friends and family, being moving about the bride. And doing all this with a healthy sprinkling of laughs. It’s tough.

So if you’re a Groom about to write your speech, what to do?

My advice is keep it simple. Break your speech up into 3 main sections: starter, main and dessert. As each section will have its own flavour, you’ll find it much easier to decide which bits should go where and what stuff can be left out.

This is the only time I would ever recommend someone make a meal of their speech. Here goes…

Starter

The good news is your opening line does not need to be funny. It can be a simple welcome.  However, do try to include an ice-breaker or light-hearted remark within the first few lines. The guests will be looking for an opportunity to show their appreciation with laughter so give them that chance.

What sort of ice-breaker would you recommend?

Something seasonal… an ice-breaker that is relatable to everyone there and then. So it could be the fact they’re all dressed up smartly, the type of venue, how far some people have had to travel, the table layout (who’s sitting with whom), where the “troublemakers” are sat, a famous event that’s also taking place that day, etc.

After this, it’s a good time to include any thank yous. Keep the thanks snappy and don’t feel everyone needs to be mentioned. You don’t want this section to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech that goes on and on.

Remember: it’s the starter so shouldn’t be too filling.

Main

You can now move on to something meatier – stories and reminiscences about you, your family & friends, and the bride. But though you might have lots of material, don’t dump everything on the plate in one big splodge. You know the sort of thing: “I love my wife. And my mum. And my mates. And my cat…”

Keep the elements of your signature dish separate. For example, you could start with material about your friends and family before moving on to meeting your wife and how you proposed or why she’s so special to you. Rough chronological order is a simple way to structure everything.

How big should the main be?

Don’t ladle it on. Although you don’t want to leave the guests unsatisfied, you also don’t want to leave them reaching for the Gaviscon.

Instead, try to ensure the length of the entire speech is no more than 6-8 minutes. Certainly no more than 10 minutes. That’s when we start entering the indigestion zone.

Side dishes

If you are going to toast a specific person or absent friends, I’d recommend you include it here so that there is ample space before the final toast.

And I would advise having no more than two (including the final one). Toasts are like side dishes – too many and they really lose their attraction.

Dessert

So, the guests have had the thank yous, a sprinkling of jokes, the main stories and now you can end with something sweeter: a dollop of sentimentality. This could simply be how much you look forward to spending the rest of your life with your wife. However, don’t fret about using ornate language or clever metaphors –  a straight “I love you” is hard to beat.

Like a proper dessert, it should be short and sweet.

After-dinner drink / digestif

So, you’re done and it’s time for the coffees. Well, almost. It is traditional, but not obligatory, to end with a toast to the bridesmaids. You don’t need anything fancy. A simple “And finally….” will do. Everyone raises their glasses and now you’re done.

Waiter, the bill, please…

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