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Groom Speech

Nailing Your Groom Speech

When it comes to writing a groom speech, most blokes panic and dive headfirst into googling speech etiquette and wedding gags.

This result is the usual fodder; a speech that’s clichéd, boring, and just a bit blah. 

You can do better. And, we’re here to help. 

The Speechy team are TV scriptwriters by trade and our advice has featured everywhere from The New York Times to The Times. And, as the authors of ‘The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches’ and the only speech experts invited on to BBC Sounds ‘Best Men’ podcast with Jason Manford we have all the advice to deliver a great speech on the big day. 

* Of course, if you’re looking for more than ‘advice’, check out our groom templatespeech edit, or bespoke service. Or, work with our new AI-powered team member –SpeechyAI!

Groom Speech Etiquette

The first rule of groom speech etiquette is – don’t get tied down with it. A lot of it’s outdated, blooming dull, and completely unnecessary. 

There’s no need to address your friends and family as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ (chances are they’re not), and you don’t need to toast the bridesmaids (though it is essential you say they’re gorgeous even if they’re already on their second bottle of Pinot).

Modern speech etiquette just comes down to common sense.

Don’t get so worried about thanking folk, that you forget what you’re actually meant to be doing. The bulk of your speech should not be thanking people but paying a once-in-a-lifetime tribute to your new wife! 

(And if you’re marrying a bloke, check out our gay groom etiquette guide).

Wedding Speech Etiquette

1. So, who does the groom thank?

The thank yous are, of course, important. Your marriage is frankly doomed if you forget to thank your mother-in-law.

The groom traditionally thanks;

  • everyone for coming
  • his in-laws
  • his parents
  • his best man & ushers
  • the maid of honour & bridesmaids

As well the the obvious thank yous, there may be others you want to mention (children from previous relationships?) but resist the urge to read out half the guest list. Nothing kills off a groom speech quicker than a tedious thank you list.

Old school etiquette guides (like Debretts) suggest a groom’s first duty should be to thank the father of the bride (or equivalent) for his speech. Feel free to pay an ad hoc, ad-libbed thank you but make this a natural response as opposed to scripting a generic thanks. Ideally, pick up on something he’s said and have fun with it. 

Keep each individual thanks to less than 50 words and include a sense of fun throughout. Make the thank yous specific and personal – so rather than thanking your in-laws for bringing up such a wonderful daughter, thank them for sharing their wine collection with you. Getting personal not only makes the thank yous more meaningful, but entertaining too. 

Finally, don’t bother thanking anyone you’ve paid. No matter how lovely the venue staff or how much the wedding planner may have done, you shouldn’t waste your wordcount on people you’ve paid. 

wedding speeches bespoke speech writing

2. How does a groom pay tribute to absent friends & the dearly departed? 

No need to mention any of your friends or family who haven’t been able to make it (unless they’re watching online). 

When it comes to the ‘dearly departed’, this depends on how raw the emotions are. 

If it’s a parent or someone very close to you has recently died, we advise paying a meaningful tribute to them in the week leading up to the wedding. This is so the disappointment of them not being there on the big day, has already been acknowledged. Even if it’s just a casual dinner with family or a walk to one of their favourite spots with your partner, let the tears flow before you’re standing up, delivering your speech in front of everyone. 

On the day, be careful not to turn your speech into a eulogy. Instead, pay a tribute to your loved one by putting a smile on everyone’s face. 

Could the guests join you in a toast to your father by drinking his favourite malt whisky? Or could you point out the bride’s bouquet was made from her gran’s favourite flowers?

Our advice is keep it short, sweet and script it towards the end of your speech. So many grooms make the mistake of starting their speech when a toast to the ‘dearly departed’ but that’s often hard to recover from. 

wedidng speech dearly departed

3. Does the groom toast the bridesmaids? 

In the bad, old days, the groom was expected to conclude his speech with a toast to the bridesmaids. These days, that seems an odd idea. The groom certainly needs to thank the bride’s wedding-sidekicks (unless she’s giving a speech and thanking them herself), but that doesn’t need to be the climax of your speech.

At Speechy, we normally include a tribute to the bridesmaids just before the ushers’ & best man’s. Like all thank yous, try to say more than the usual wedding-platitudes and instead, give a sense of their individual or tribal character. Once you’ve thanked the bride-squad, you don’t need to ask people to raise a glass or join you in an official ‘toast’.

Really, the only times you should ask people to raise a glass is at the end of your speech (your final toast) and in tribute to the dearly departed. The stand-up, sit-down routine of including too many toasts can feel a bit ridiculous.

Your final toast should be directed towards your wife and your future life together. Read on to see how you can make that truly personal. 

brides party

4. Should the groom hand out gifts? 

Sure, the mums love a nice bouquet of flowers but let’s not make a big deal about it. And, certainly don’t deliver them during your speech!

We recommend giving any gifts earlier in the day (it’s more intimate and meaningful). Or, simply say in the speech that you’ll be ‘personally handing the gifts out later’ . This ensures the gift-giving doesn’t disrupt the flow of your speech and the guests don’t get distracted. 

wedding speech groom speech gifts

5. How does the groom thank divorced parents? 

Tactfully. 

This will depend on, not just on your relationship with your parents (and, potentially, their other halves), but also their relationship with each other. 

Is there any chance your mum will start heckling if you wax too lyrical about your dad? 

Hopefully, any bad feeling can be put aside for the day but be sure to thank parents equally. If their new partners have been in your life for some time, don’t feel shy of mentioning them too. Divorced parents aren’t anything unusual. 

wedding speech family

6. How does a groom address an international guestlist? 

Weddings with an international guestlist, where English isn’t everyone’s first language, are becoming more common. 

Some couples opt to recruit an interpreter to ensure no one misses out, but in our experience, this makes the speeches overly long and loses a speech’s natural charm and humour. 

What we suggest is having a few well-rehearsed lines where you attempt to address your international guests in their native tongue. It’s a chance to establish a connection, and also add a bit more humour to your speech. 

Make Your Groom Speech Funny

All speeches should be funny. No one’s expecting a stand-up routine but try to get everyone chuckling within the first 20 secs. It relaxes everyone, including you.

 

As you’ll see, being funny isn’t about finding jokes on the internet – it’s about making witty observations about your partner, yourself and your relationship.

Whatever you do – avoid Groom Speech ‘Jokes’. You want to make your guests laugh, not groan. 

  • ‘Without all of you here today, it wouldn’t have been the same… but it would have been cheaper.’
  • ‘Let me tell you that is not the first time today I have risen from a warm seat with a bit of paper in my hand.’ And so on . . .

 

Basically, if the joke could be used in someone else’s wedding speech, it probably shouldn’t be in yours.

wedding speech laughter

It might seem obvious that your wedding speech needs a good story in it but a lot of wedding speeches don’t.

They should.

Neuroscientists have discovered that our brains light up when we hear stories. It seems humans are programmed to be empathic; we’re literally designed to be curious about other people.

Finding cracking anecdotes (short stories) is a crucial part of creating a great speech. A story doesn’t need to be long. It doesn’t need to be extraordinary. It just has to reveal something about you as a couple and make folk laugh.

The cornerstones of any relationship are likely to be interesting and here’s a list of the classic ‘love stories’ to consider…  

  • How you met
  • The first date
  • Meeting the parents
  • Moving in together
  • When you discovered they weren’t actually perfect
  • Any embarrassing anecdotes
  • Any challenges you’ve overcome together 
  • Any classic stories that you’ve enjoyed telling friends and that still make you laugh

wedding speech laughter

Sometimes you need a few prompts to get that brain working, like their online profile that claimed a passion for history but didn’t quite reveal this ‘interest’ would involve you having to visit military museums in every town and country you go to with them.

See if you can hunt down…

  • Your online dating profiles (if you met there).
  • If you met at work, do you still have your contract or job description? It could it be used for comedy purposes.
  • If you’re childhood sweethearts, hunt out the school reports.
  • And, obviously, look back at your photos through the years. This will inevitably trigger memories but don’t consider using them as part of your speech.

wedding speeches edit speech writing uk

Speechy’s favourite brand of comedy is based on observation. It’s also the easiest to master.

Comedians have a skilled eye when it comes to noticing the strange things in life that we take for granted but it’s often just about taking the time to look.

Everyone in this world is weird in their very own way, so get a mirror and hold it up to your relationship. Question your behaviour, habits and unwritten rules. Look at the everyday frustrations and recurring issues.

We can all relate to other people’s relationships, and people appreciate it if you talk honestly about yours. Okay, not everyone’s partners put sweet chilli sauce on their toast for breakfast but everyone can appreciate having a partner with weird habits.

To make observational humour work, the trick is to be as specific as possible. Even positive qualities can be humorous if you dissect them.

Best man wedding speech

The callback is where you plant a story or a piece of info at the start of the speech, possibly as a throwaway line, and then reference it later on. 

Watch professional comedians on stage and you’ll see nearly all of them deploy the technique. It’s not only funny, it’s a technique that makes you look smart. Win-win. 

For example, share that story where you accidentally stapled your shoe to the floor when you renovated your first house together. Later, conclude your speech by saying ‘…I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you, even if I do have to staple your shoes to the floor to make sure you’re by my side forever more.’

The callback is basically establishing an inside joke that everyone is part of.

To make it work

  1. Plant something funny, and crucially, memorable in the first third of your speech.
  2. Then simple refer to it towards the end of your speech.

Voila. You’ve become a comedy pro.

wedding speech props

Check out some groom speech videos we’ve collated, or have a read of Boris Johnson’s wedding speech as imagined by the Speechy Team. It will give you an idea of how professional comedy writers craft humorous lines. 

Of course, if all this advice has done nothing but convince you, you need help – then jump straight to all the different ways the Speechy team can help you, including SpeechyAI; a genius tool we’ve built that’s guaranteed to help you develop unique and hilarious lines. Honestly, it’s bloody good. 

AI wedding speech generator

How to Write & Deliver Your Groom Speech

Here are the basic rules.

If you’re reading this, probably now. 

Don’t wait for divine inspiration to strike. It rarely does. 

We advise sitting down at least two months before the big day and committing pen to paper (or at least, turn off your notifications and type a few hundreds words). 

Once you start, it gets easier. Even when you’re not sitting in front of the laptop, once you’ve genuinely engaged your brain in the process of speechwriting, it will work on a subconscious level for you. You’ll find when you get back to the screen, you’ll have plenty more ideas. 

And, of course, it’s always easier improving a speech than it is starting one. 

wedding speeches south asian best man speech writer

Speechy generally advise…

  • Hello, welcome & a laugh
  • The Speech-Meat – Where you tell a few great stories that give an insight into your relationship and why you love your new spouse as much as you do. 
  • Thank yous
  • Acknowledgement of the dearly departed (if necessary)
  • A final more romantic tribute to your wife
  • A toast to your wife / your future life together 

This structure may be different to most speeches you’ve heard. Many speakers automatically start with the thank yous but, as important as they may be, they are not what really interests your guests.

Get to the thank yous once you’ve already hooked everyone in. 

wedding toast groom speech video advice

Don’t script a thank you to the previous speaker as the opening to your speech. Make this thank you a spontaneous ad lib before you obviously start delivering your speech. This makes the thank you sound like a genuine, heartfelt reaction rather than a ‘tick-box’ courtesy.

We see lots of grooms fill the first 30 seconds of their speech with absolute nonsense. Talking about guests traveling far. What a special occasion it is. Pure cut-and-paste jobs.

Start by trying to get a laugh early 

  • “Greetings, party people! They told me marriage is all about compromise. Well, I’ve already compromised my ability to choose what I wear for the rest of my life.”

  • “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the [your last name] Comedy Club! I’ll be your stand-up comedian for the evening, and [spouse’s name] is my favorite heckler.”

  • “Hello, world-changers! Today, [spouse’s name] and I embark on a journey filled with love, laughter, and a joint bank account. Pray for us.”
  • “Good evening, everybody! Today, I’ve officially joined the ‘Happily Ever After’ club. Membership fee: my independence. Benefits: endless love and an occasional ‘Yes, dear.'”

 

Every word should count, so you could consider forgetting the ‘hellos’ altogether. The trick is to make the opening personal. 

ALTERNATIVE OPENINGS

  • Jump right in. ‘So we’ve finally done it. Sophie has agreed to put up with mefor the rest of her life and I’ve got that in writing.’
  • Short and snappy.  ‘Well, let’s start with the elephant in the room. Why has the gorgeous bride just married a bright orange lad from Croydon who can’t spell?’
  • Start with a story. ‘Let me tell you a story… when I first saw Lucy, sitting in the bar, reading a book in the middle of the Saturday night chaos, I knew I had to speak to her. Only she was too absorbed in his John Grisham to notice me.’

 

wedding toast groom romantic speechy

A speech theme is your narrative hook. 

Rather than just a list of anecdotes and thanks yous, your speech should tell a story.

Yes, it’s made up of lots of different elements but it needs to hook people in from the beginning, establish a theme and carry that through to an almighty climax.

One basic example might be a teacher who talks about the lessons his wife has taught – the good, the bad and the ability to now name the Kardashians.

Another theme might be the groom’s interpretation of his marriage vows (e.g. man flu does indeed count as ‘sickness’).

Turning your speech into a story makes it easy to follow and entertaining. Find out #whatsyourstory

bride and groom speech

A heart-warming tribute to your partner should be the focus of your speech but every groom thinks his spouse is gorgeous, kind and generally amaaaaazing.

The only way for this to sound genuine is – prove, don’t tell. Resist too many adjectives and recount the anecdotes that show your partner’s qualities in action.

Cut the clichés and concentrate on what makes your loved one unique. Avoid words like ‘soulmate’ or ‘beautiful’, anything that’s overused.

Are they a library-lover, a technology fiend, a devoted foodie? Nailing their individual and quirky characteristics shows you ‘get them’ and her friends and family will love you for it.

engagement wedding speech

ROMANCE DON’Ts

Do not…

  • Be generic – If your romantic lines could be substituted into a stranger’s wedding speech, well, you’re doing something wrong. Romance demands that you get personal.
  • Be smug – Being married for a few hours does not grant you the right to be a smug-married yet. Remember there’s likely to be single people out there so resist the urge to suggest finding a life-partner is the only reason for living. You don’t want the bridesmaids crying before 5pm!
  • Use meaningless clichés and platitudes – Seriously, ‘soulmate’ is a waste of your word count. What about ‘partner-in-crime’ instead?
  • Overuse adjectives – Avoid using too many adjectives and prove, don’t tell. Use evidence to back up your claims.

 

ROMANCE DOs

Make sure you…

  1. Remember romance doesn’t need to be serious – You can deliver the sweetest lines with a smile on your face.
  2. Concentrate on what makes your partner unique – The most powerful way to be romantic is finding the qualities and quirks that make your partner truly unique.
  3. If you’re struggling for a killer line, get inspired by our Groom Speech Quotes. While plagiarism is never cool, quoting people who are cleverer & wittier than you, is legit. 

couple wedding speech valentine

A good toast summarises the point of your speech.  It provides great storytelling symmetry and is a call to action for everyone present.

The toast itself needs to be succinct enough to propose it and people to second it. It’s essentially a contract, so be concise.

Examples of great groom toasts…  

  • “To my incredible bride, my partner in crime, and the one who manages to tolerate my terrible dance moves. Here’s to a lifetime of love, laughter, and pretending not to notice when I sneak in extra snacks. Cheers!”

  • “As we dive into this marriage adventure, let’s raise our glasses to surviving my occasional snoring and her knack for finding the TV remote in the most mysterious places. May our love be as unbreakable as her ability to beat me at board games. Cheers!”

  • “To the love of my life, thank you for saying ‘I do’ despite witnessing my questionable fashion choices and the fact that I can never find matching socks. May our marriage be as enduring as my video game sessions and as exciting as finding pizza in the fridge when we thought it was all gone. Here’s to us!”

  • “In the spirit of wedded bliss, let’s toast to a lifetime of love, compromise, and navigating the dangerous territory of choosing the right side of the bed. May our marriage be as smooth as my hair never is and as full of surprises as her unexpected dance parties in the living room. Cheers to us!”

  • “To my beautiful bride, thank you for being the ‘better’ half, the one who always knows where we parked, and the expert in finding lost items, including my car keys. May our marriage be as rock-solid as your morning coffee routine and as fun as our impromptu karaoke nights. Here’s to love, laughter, and a lifetime of hilarious memories!”

wedding toast

A maximum of ten mins allowing for laughter and ad-libs. You might feel you have plenty to say but be strict with yourself.

Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. We promise it will make it twice as good. No one ever watched a wedding speech and thought ‘if only it were longer’. It’s the same with jokes; they’re better if they’re punchy.

Ernest Hemingway said ‘The first draft of anything is shit’. This is both true and reassuring.

The edit-process might mean cutting some of your favourite bits but you need to wipe out the waffle and cut out the cliches. Lots of sites offer quick estimates of your speech duration based on your wordcount.

And, if you’re still struggling to make the brutal cuts necessary, remember to check out our Edit Service. We’re not shy about getting tucked in! 

wedding speeches south asian shai

A confident delivery is half the battle. Check the acoustics of the venue & get a mic if necessary (so many speeches are ruined simply because the guests can’t hear them).

Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled).

Talk slower than feel natural (makes you sound more confident) & leave pauses for laughter (sometimes people need a moment to ‘get it’).

Keep your posture relaxed and remember everyone wants you to do well so make sure you smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious and scientists know stuff.

Read our Delivery Guide for more tips.

groom speech delivery

PRE-DELIVERY CHECKLIST

  • Have a snack – An empty stomach isn’t good for nerves. It may be the last thing you fancy but stuff a handful of canapes down or have a Mars bar on hand.
  • Don’t drink alcoholStudies have shown even one glass of alcohol can reduce your public speaking skills. 
  • Drink water – A glass of water a few minutes prior to speaking will ensure you don’t dry up.
  • Look for friendly faces in the audience – And at different points of the room.

 

ON THE MIC CHECKLIST

  • Stand up, breathe deep and smile.
  • Remember your presenting principles.
  • Laugh along – Sometimes people need the visual cue that what you’ve said is funny. (I know, people are idiots). And, as we know, laughter is infectious so make sure you exploit it!
  • If you’re being filmed – see the camera as an extra friend. It works really well when you come to watch it back.
  • Be prepared for audience interaction. It’s unlikely you’ll get hecklers but some people like to ‘get involved’. It’s good to have a few witty responses in your back pocket. For example…
  • (If it’s a free bar) ‘And that’s why the free bar ends after the first drink…’
  • (If it’s not a free bar) ‘And that’s why you don’t get a free bar…’
  • ‘There are some RSVPs you read with tears in your eyes.’

wedding toast romantic groom advice speechy

Speech Do's

Check with your partner

If they aren’t giving a speech then you’re speaking on behalf of them too. If nothing else, make sure they’re happy with your thank you list.

Make the thanks yous meaningful

Don’t just talk about what people have contributed to the wedding, thank them for what they’ve contributed to your life (even if it is just an appreciation on malt whiskeys).

Make your toast unique

Drink to ‘a lifetime of dancing on tables’ or consider a #Tequilatoast

Practise your speech and film it on your phone

Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your gut and spot where your speech can be improved.

Feel free to use clever quotes

But make sure you credit the author or someone else will! Check out our Groom Quote Inspiration guide.

Speech Don'ts

Don't thank the caterers, the venue, people who have travelled far etc.

It’s unnecessary.

Don't ignore the feedback of friends

It’s always worth testing your speech on a mate, but this means you have to listen to them. 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.

Don't talk over laughter

You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until your guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.

Don't get overly soppy

Get the balance right between sweet and just showing off. Leave the pet names at home and keep anything overly gushing for the bedroom. Remember, sometimes a couple of lines expressing your love, can be just as powerful as 20. 

Groom Speech - Let us help you!

If you want to deliver a legendary speech, work with us.

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