WHAT GOES IN AN ENGAGEMENT SPEECH?
Pretty much anything, actually.
There’s no need to be overly concerned with etiquette here. The idea is simply to welcome everyone to the occasion and celebrate the love in the room!
With the wedding likely to be some months off, your engagement speech is still a great chance to pay tribute to your partner but in a lighter, cheekier way than your more formal wedding speech where you generally have to cater for a wider (older?) demographic and factor in a lot more thank yous.
This speech is all about having fun!
ENGAGEMENT SPEECH INSPO
All good speeches should feel like a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Clearly, your ‘end’ is more like a ‘to be continued…’ but it might help to think of your speech in three parts:
You might not think yours is romcom-worthy, but all get-togethers are unique; from the thrilling Tinder match, to the familiar ‘down the pub’ scenario, to the initial chat by the office coffee machine. How you first met is actually less important than how you tell it.
It’s all in the detail. Did one of you have an ‘I carried a watermelon’ moment? Maybe you remember one another as snot-nosed, pigtailed, wobbly-toothed school kids who didn’t particularly like each other. Set the scene for where love blossomed.
THE MOMENT YOU KNEW THEY WERE THE ONE
Real life is so much cooler (and, generally, funnier) than fiction. Whether yours was love at first sight or a slow burner, admitting when you decided your partner was a keeper is a good opportunity to bring humour and heart into your speech.
Perhaps it was when you realised they were just as psyched as you for the Nintendo Direct. Or maybe it was the moment they choose Wu-Tang C.R.E.A.M for karaoke – and didn’t need the lyric cues. It’s fine to tell your partner you knew they were the one ‘because you’re my favourite kind of weird’.
If you sat your beloved in the back of a moving Honda CRV and pulled off a fully choreographed flash mob complete with Bruno Mars lip-dub, your speech is probably going to be pretty extra already.
If your proposal was low-key, heartfelt, and romantic, this story is just as worthy of being recounted. The Eiffel Tower’s nice, but so is your coffee table and your dog-eared Scrabble board (plus you get 14 points for spelling Marry Me).
Obviously, avoid sounding smug, and make sure you add some self-depreciation or humour to make your proposal story palatable to the wider audience. Feel free to send yourselves up if the big question came on a dog walk where you not only had to carry the ring but a bag full of poo too!
Remember, humour warms an audience more than displays of earnest soul-searching and overly personal revelations. Laughter is a social bonding juice that will get everyone in the mood to celebrate your union.
WHAT TO AVOID
RESIST RAMBLING ANECDOTES
As with your wedding speech, brevity is key. A few short and sweet stories will make guests smile – anything longer and those happy sighs might turn into just, well, sighs.
We’d suggest keeping your speech to around 3-5 minutes. That’s no more than 750 words.
Remember, no one ever wishes speeches were longer, especially when there’s a bar beckoning. Short, punchy, and feelgood is the way to go.
KEEP IT INFORMAL
Your wedding toast needn’t be overly ‘proper’, and your engagement speech can be even more relaxed. Don’t feel you need to address your audience as ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ – this opener is outdated and stuffy.
Start your speech by being chill and inclusive; ‘Hey everyone’ or even ‘Right then, you lot’ will suffice, depending on your kind of crowd.
HOLD SOMETHING BACK
Save your best material for the wedding speeches. Give some tantalising titbits now, and keep something special for the big day. Or find alternative ways to tell your story – give your version now and let your partner follow up at the top table with how things really happened. Bear in mind you’ll likely have a slightly different crowd on your wedding day.
BEWARE SELF INDULGENCE
Sure, this is your love story, your celebration, and your night.
But speeches are actually always about the audience – showing you care about them is key to success, so make it interactive, with good eye contact and expressive body language, pausing for laughter and friendly heckles.
TALKING OF ‘TOGETHER’…
What better way to say BOOM, we’re a team, than giving a joint engagement speech?
Joint speeches are a lot of fun and work well for all personality types, whether it’s two show ponies competing for the limelight or a natural orator and his or her quieter, more subtle sidekick.
DELIVERING YOUR SPEECH
Don’t underestimate the importance of preparing to deliver once your speech is written. Rehearsing might feel odd, but the results are worth it. Record yourself on your phone and make a note of where to put pauses and eye contact (practice on the cat if needs be).
It find to use notes on the day but the speech will roll off the tongue more naturally if you’re well-practiced.
One more tiny piece of advice – avoid alcohol before the speech. Ok, have one – this is a party, not the Priory – but too much or you’ll risk slurring your words or not being fully present in the moment. By all means, go to town after the toast.