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Groom Speech Structure: Write The Perfect Speech

Groom Speech Structure: Write The Perfect Speech

The Speechy team are TV trained comedy scriptwriters by trade and we've worked with hundreds of speakers around the world, helping them deliver their dream speech. So, if you want a speech that will leave your guests laughing, your partner touched and you feeling just a little bit smug, it's worth reading this Ten Point Plan of Attack...

(*Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out all the different ways the Speechy team can help you write & deliver a great speech. Or check out our new AI-powered team member, SpeechyAI.)

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1. Start

Never mind ‘how’ you’ll write your speech, worry about ‘when’.

Start soon, ideally two months before the wedding. Do not be tempted to put off writing until you’re hit by divine inspiration (it rarely strikes) and do not get side-tracked by table plans or biscuits.

Don’t underestimate how long it can take to be witty, meaningful, and memorable. Yes, you know your subject rather well (we’re hoping) but even professional comedians can take months to write five minutes of content.

So, lock yourself in a room, turn off your notifications, and get STARTED.

2. The Basic Speech Structure

A speech is not about handing out gifts and it’s not (just) about thanking people. It’s about reminding everyone why they should be celebrating the newlyweds getting hitched. It’s explaining why two sane people have just promised to tolerate each other’s crazy habits and personality quirks for the rest of their lives.

So, forget the old-fashioned etiquette books, the basic structure for a modern groom’s speech is relatively simple…

  • Hello, welcome & thank everyone
  • Relationship stories and insights to make your guests smile & laugh
  • A meaningful tribute to your partner (poignant & unique, not cheesy or cliched!)
  • The thank yous (we’ll get to those next)
  • Possibly a tribute to the dearly departed 
  • A toast that leaves everyone smiling (not bored by how predictable it is)

And that’s it really.

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3. Know Your Speech Etiquette

There are plenty of good etiquette guides online but sound the klaxon, they come with a warning. Etiquette guides can seriously damage your speech. They can make you think your groom’s speech has to include a long list of thank-yous and old-fashioned clichés. Resist the urge.

Here’s our no-nonsense guide to speech etiquette –

  • Be yourself – just because you’re wearing fancy clothes doesn’t mean you need to use formalities like ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’. Your friends and family want to hear the real you.
  • Thank the important people–  Sure, thank everyone for coming but don’t namecheck half the guestlist.
  • Remember those actors who win an Oscar and thank their parents, the director, the lighting guy, and their dog? Boring isn’t it? Especially when you don’t get a mention.
  • Simply thank both sets of parents, anyone who’s contributed financially (though don’t be explicit about that), the people who have gone beyond the call of duty to help, and any children you may have.
  • Don’t thank people like the caterers or anyone who you have paid.
  • Don’t give thank-you gifts – Well, feel free to but don’t include the gift-giving as part of the speech. It will put you off your flow and it’s awkward to sit through. Give any gifts earlier or later in the day.
  • Be clever Make the thanks yous feel part of the story you’re telling. If you’re having a festival themed wedding then thank the backstage support and the incredible roadies who have helped.
  • Your toast – Don’t feel pressured into toasting the bridesmaids. Certainly, thank them and say how stunning they look (they took three hours getting ready after all!) but these days you can toast anything you want and we encourage you to be personal.
  • Why not propose a tequila toast? Something inclusive, something about love, and something that gets people in the mood to party.

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4. Wedding Speech Material

So, other than the speech ‘to dos’ what makes up the bulk of your speech? Well, stories of course…

STORY-HUNTING – Imagine you’re one of those detectives you see on TV (only without the Swedish accent or psychological problems). You have a theory, maybe that you’re marrying someone kind of special. It’s now up to you to prove it.

Retrace your romantic steps (metaphorically not literally, that could take some time) and work out the key bits of evidence.

What moments have been meaningful, funny, or illustrate a point? If you want to reference the fact your partner is a bit ditsy, remember the time they reported her car stolen only to discover they’d parked it round the corner.

GET INSIGHTFUL – Hunt down the things that make you and your partner unique. This is what adds depth, meaning, and humour to your speech. It also stops you from sounding like a generic cliche of a groom.

So, how does your partner put up with you? Are you the husband who can’t open jars? Do you eat your burgers with a knife and fork? It’s time to confess.

And what unique traits does your partner have? The ability to respond to Whatapp messages before they’re actually sent? An encyclopedic knowledge of The Great British Bake Off and its soggy bottoms? A ridiculously long tongue? Whatever it is, make sure you pay tribute to their individual quirks. It says much more than just saying how awesome they look (though it’s essential you say that too!).

5. Find a Theme

Right, this is the important bit.

Your speech is made up of lots of different elements but your job is to bind them all so your speech needs to sound like a story rather than a list of unconnected thoughts.

You need to hook people in from the beginning, establish a theme, and carry that through to an almighty climax.

There are infinite theme ideas but here are a few classics you could consider…

THEME IDEAS BASED ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP

  • Love Lessons. What you’ve learnt from each other over the years; the good, the bad and the plain ugly. A theme like this is great for starting with comedic examples and moving on to more profound ones.
  • The power of serendipity. This works if luck has played a part in your relationship (even if it was simply that your partner lived within a 20km radius of your online dating search).
  • How love changes with time. This is a good concept if you’re getting married at a later stage in life. It can include comedic insights (‘Less podium dancing, more pension haggling’) but conclude with more a meaningful sentiment (‘When you get to your sixties, you know what’s important to you and you can promise things that you only now truly understand.’)
  • The international language of love. A great theme if you have an international guest list. Use proverbs and words from their countries of origin to punctuate your speech. Say it in your guest’s native language and then translate. It makes everyone feel included in the speech and also brings something new to the table. There are some great proverbs out there, from Ethiopia’s Coffee and love taste better when they’re hot’ to India’s ‘It is love that makes the impossible, possible’.

You get the idea.

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6. Be Funny

Even if the crux of your speech is emotional and romantic it’s still good to have some humour in there too.

Nobody is expecting you to be a stand-up comedian but try to find the comedy in your reality. Are you and your partner really alike or really different? Do you share a guilty pleasure? Do you have a distinctive style of arguing? These sorts of areas make great speech material.

Whatever you do, resist the Googled gags or cheesy wedding jokes. Instead, check out our how to be funny guide.

7. Be Sweet (Not Sickly)

Firstly, be honest. There’s no point making declarations of love if people don’t recognise the person you’re talking about.

Don’t pretend that your partner is perfect or that you don’t argue over control of the TV remote control. Love them for the crazy nut-job they really are.

Secondly, don’t go OTT. You have to get the balance right between sweet and just showing off. Leave the pet names at home and keep anything overly gushing for the bedroom.

A good trick is simply writing a list of all the little, quirky things you like about your partner a la When Harry Met Sally.

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8. Be Different

Try to avoid cliches like ‘special’ or ‘the one’ and create new ways of describing love.

One groom said he was attracted to his wife because she looked like Bridget Bardot dressed up for a night at The Hog’s Head disco’.

Another groom said his first date with his wife had left him with the feeling you get after the three course special at The Raj; very happy, completely satisfied but slightly nervous about what’s to come’.

If you’re really stuck, replace a generic cliche with a good, solid quote. Whilst plagiarism and being boring are never acceptable, using quotes is seen as positively inspired.

Check out our favourite Groom Speech Quotes.

9. Keep It Short

Aim for somewhere between seven and nine minutes. And that includes the pauses you leave for the laughter. Jokes are funnier when they’re short and punchy, and senitment is more powerful when it’s succinct.

You may feel you have SOOOOOO much you want to say but the real test is saying it in the least amount of words. It’s kind of like a perverse game of Scrabble.

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10. Test it Out

Firstly on yourself. Read the speech out loud and if you find yourself stumbling on the same bit every time, change it.

Then get an audience. It needs to be someone whose advice you value, so don’t ask your mum if you’re going to ignore her.

Deliver it as you would on the wedding day. Leave pauses for the laughter (ironically speakers often talk over the laughter they’ve worked so hard to achieve). Remember to smile. Look at your audience.

And then – be receptive to criticism. If someone doesn’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day. The point of testing your speech is you still have time to change it.

The Speechwriting Experts

The Speechy team are TV-trained scriptwriters/comedians by trade & we’ve helped 1,000s of speakers around the world deliver their dream speech.

Our advice has been quoted everywhere from The New York Times to Grazia and from Forbes to The Observer. Our founder has also featured on the BBC Sounds’ Best Men podcast with Jason Manford and written ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’, published by Little, Brown.

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