If grinning into your Prosecco while basking in congratulations doesn’t feel ceremonious enough to mark your engagement, consider saying a few words to make this a truly memorable moment. Yes, engagement party speeches are officially a thing.
Whether your party is online (mid-pandemic), a low-key meal with close friends and family, or the whole balloons, band and booze shebang, giving an engagement speech is a gorgeous way to give your guests some heart-warming insight into your relationship and mark this momentous moment.
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 a tribute to your partner but in a lighter, cheekier way than your more formal wedding speech where you have 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 stories are structured around 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:
THE MEET CUTE
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 chance eye-lock at a Radiohead gig. How you first met is less important than how you tell it.
It’s in the detail – what were they wearing? 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 much like each other.
THE MOMENT YOU KNEW THEY WERE THE ONE
Real life is so much cooler and 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 before them, you’d never known someone to choose Wu-Tang C.R.E.A.M for karaoke – without needing the lyric cues. It’s fine to tell your partner you knew ‘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 and a suspiciously devoid of traffic street, 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’s your coffee table and your dog-eared Scrabble board – plus you get 14 points for Marry Me.
If you’re giving a speech as the one who accepted your partner’s proposal, explain briefly why you said yes. This is obviously an emotional moment, but resist the urge to go mushy.
Humour warms an audience more than displays of earnest soul matery. Feel free to send yourselves up if the big question came on a dog walk where one of you had a poo bag in your hand, for instance.
THE BIG DAY
No worries if you don’t have a fixed date in mind yet. If living through a pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that setting things in stone is a recipe for disaster.
A vague ‘sometime next year’ is acceptable at this stage. Tonight is all about your engagement.
WHAT TO AVOID”
Eschewing etiquette doesn’t necessarily mean going far off the beaten track. We’ve a few tips for keeping your speech peachy keen and your audience charmed:
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 5 minutes. That’s around 750 words. No one ever wishes speeches were longer, especially when there’s a bar beckoning. Short, punchy, and feelgood is the one.
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. Guests will love joining you in getting excited about new beginnings – a newly engaged couple represents a lot good feelings about the future, as well as a pleasant dose of nostalgia for the more seasoned relationship havers.
But speeches are actually always about the audience – showing you care about them is key to success, so make it interactive, with good use of eye contact and expressive body language, pausing for laughter and friendly heckles. This is a good time to shout out your best man and bridesmaids, especially if they had a hand in bringing you lovebirds together.
TALKING OF ‘TOGETHER’…
Your relationship has not only survived three lockdowns – it’s thrived, and you still want to marry one another. 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 for this part 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).
Feel free to have cue cards as back up, 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 a priory – but too much and you’ll risk slurring your words or not being fully present in the moment. By all means go to town after the toast.
THE ZOOM SPEECH
We’re hopeful for a return to proper socialising now that we have some kind of roadmap to normality. But flexibility is your friend in a pandemic – be prepared to give a socially distanced speech.
This means honing your creative skills. Add a glamorous-looking comedy Zoom background, or at least be aware of what’s in the frame (make your bed/hide your copy of the Da Vinci Code). Consider including pre-recorded messages from friends and family to surprise your partner with, and dress up – this is still a party, even if the party-goers are stuck in tiny little squares.
Placing your cues near the webcam will make eye contact with your audience inevitable. And finally, a good WiFi connection is essential.
Ways Speechy Can Help
Whatever sort of speech you want to deliver, an awesome engagement speech or a memorable wedding speech, let’s chat.
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