Traditionally, the order of speeches at weddings is as follows: the father of the bride, then the groom and finally the best man. Sometimes the maid of honor says something too, which is always nice.
The father of the bride will keep his speech focused on his daughter, sharing a few anecdotes, before welcoming the groom into the family and wishing the newly-weds luck. At this point, theoretically the father of the bride is passing on the ‘responsibility’ of looking after his daughter to her new husband.
By being properly prepared, the groom can be confident ahead of his wedding speech.
The groom then steps up to the microphone to deliver his speech. Unlike the other speeches, which are usually heart-warming and/or funny, the groom tends to have a fairly functional role. It’s a moment to acknowledge the people that have made the day happen (this doesn’t mean you cannot have fun with it though!).
The key is to be charming, grateful and – as with all the best speeches – brief!
It is worth keeping in mind that the groom’s speech is usually brief and functional, with the comic relief coming from the best man and the maid of honor.
Gratitude. A lot of people will have done a ton of work to make the day the success it will be. So give them the credit they deserve.
Be warned though, with all the “thank yous” you’ll be dishing out, the speech can begin to sound like one of those deadly Academy Award acceptances – where everyone under the sun gets thanked, before the speaker is mercifully drowned out by the house band. To avoid boring your guests silly be sure to add some humor to your wedding speech.
Love. For your friends, family members (old + newly-acquired) and everyone that couldn’t be there. Most importantly, take a moment to appreciate your wife, tell her you love her and how excited you are to be beginning this next chapter together. If there is one person you absolutely MUST remember to acknowledge, it is your new wife!
Humor. This is meant to be a fun day! Sprinkle in a couple of personal anecdotes to keep the crowd entertained. Self-deprecating humor is always safe (e.g. “she’s the only one who can stomach my cooking!”). Just remember to keep it clean.
Eye-contact: If you’re complimenting someone, be sure to look at them. This is most important when it comes to speaking to your new wife. Address her, not the guests.
Brevity: Think of yourself as the warm-up act, not the star of the show (sorry to say it, but the Best Man + Maid of Honor speeches are what everyone looks forward to!)
Ultimately, it’s a balancing act. You have to show appropriate appreciation to people, but without your speech becoming a laundry-list of “thank yous”. In doing so, you need to demonstrate your honest and heart-felt emotions, but while making sure it doesn’t become an eye-rolling schmaltz-fest straight from a Hallmark card.
To help, we have come up with examples of what a fictional groom might say to key wedding attendees, having just got married to the fair (and equally fictional) “Rebecca”…
Thank you for coming. It means so much to Rebecca and me that you all here today to help us celebrate. Some of you are local to New Jersey and New York, but others have come from as far away as San Francisco, Chicago and even Brazil!
Your new in-laws
George and Kim, without you – today could never have happened. You have been amazingly generous: from the beautiful venue we find ourselves in right now to the spectacular food we are about to enjoy, it is incredibly kind of you.
I want to give a particular shoutout to Kim who was instrumental in organizing the flowers at the ceremony. They are the second most beautiful thing here today <give wife a little wink>. From the very first time I met you both, you have been so welcoming – making me feel a part of your family, even if I did manage to burn the hot dogs that first July 4th!
I’d also like to thank Eddie and Sue (your new brother & sister-in-law), who have been working tirelessly calling vendors, helping with RSVPs and sampling wine with us. Actually, maybe you should be thanking us for that last bit!
Similarly, I’d like to recognize all the hard work my family put in too. Mom, Dad – both Rebecca and I are so grateful for all your support. I wish Nana could be here on this amazing day; but I know she is smiling down at us today.
To my brothers and sisters: you guys are the best. Thank you also for helping out where you could. I think I can now forgive you for consistently stealing my ice cream when we took our summer vacations at The Shore!
Make sure the bridesmaids get a good shoutout for being such good friends to your wife.
I want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the bridesmaids – Ellie, Sam, Christina and Ryley. You all look absolutely stunning today. I know you have been amazingly supportive to Rebecca in the lead-up to our wedding, for which I am hugely appreciative. Rebecca is very lucky to have such loyal and kind friends.
Thank you also to the groomsmen. I’ve known some of you guys since we were kids, throwing the ball around Lurker Park in Livingston. Being able to share this day with you means a lot. Thanks for coming, guys. And thanks also for letting me win a couple of rounds of blackjack during my bachelor party!
The best man
In a few moments you’re going to be hearing from Joey, my best man. I’ve been friends with Joey for as long as I can remember, and he knows where all the bodies are buried. He’s always been there for me, through thick and thin – and I trust him with my life. I am sure he’s going to say lots of nice things about me, if not I am going to turn off his mike!
(If there are any doubts as to whether he’s up to the job, be sure to have him read our Perfect Best Man Speech Guide!)
Finally – and most importantly – I want to thank the new Mrs. Jones <input your last name>! Rebecca, thank you for agreeing to be my wife: you have made me the happiest man alive!
From the moment I first met you, I have been bowled over by you. Everywhere you go, you bring a ray of sunshine with you. Quite literally, you light up the room with your beautiful smile and positive outlook on life.
Some of you may not know this, but I first met Rebecca at a Devil’s game. I didn’t think anyone could love the team more than I did! I half-expected her to be wearing a hockey jersey today! But I am glad you’re not, because you look incredible.
I want everyone to know how hard you have worked to make today happen at all. Every single element of this wedding has been thought out and planned by Rebecca – from the font on the invites to the color of my socks! She doesn’t think I know this, but I hear she has also had a word with the DJ to scrub my playlist! So long as we keep “Badlands” in there, then I’m cool with it! Gotta have The Boss!
Seriously though, Rebecca – you and I have come a long way together. I have learned so much from you, particularly not to take myself too seriously! Whatever the future may hold for us, I can say with total confidence that there is nothing you and I can’t overcome together. You are the best thing to have happened to me, and I love you so much.
There are, of course, lots of other people you might want to include. E.g. the wedding planner who went above-and-beyond, or the caterer who helped you source organic food for your eco-friendly wedding.
You just need to be sure to follow the same rules as above.
Every wedding detail is being meticulously planned by your fiancée – from the color of the groomsmen’s socks to the flavor of the celebratory ice cream!
And finally, a couple of extra tips to ensure success on the day:
- Write out your speech and rehearse it. Then refine it. Then rehearse it some more. In fact, keep rehearsing it until you almost know it by heart. This way you will feel confident when your soon-to-be father in law passes you the microphone.
- Find out where you’re going to be speaking ahead of time, and stand up there imagining you’re doing it for real. The more familiar you are with the set-up, the more relaxed you will be on the day.
- Have fun! Remember, everyone is excited to be there & everyone wants you to succeed. Slap on a big smile and enjoy it!
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