Preparation and Practice:
You will not have to speak for very long. Wedding toasts and speeches around four or five minutes are more than enough. You certainly are not meant to turn yourself into a comedian or clown, or start spouting poetry! Just be yourself, speak from your heart and believe in what you are saying. A rehearsed speech written by somebody else will sound exactly what it is!
Practice in front of a mirror. If you are speaking in a large room you will need to be able to project your voice, i.e. don’t shout, but speak louder than you normally do. Try to stand still. Focus on different sections of your audience. If you are extremely nervous and cannot look into someone’s eyes, focus on top of their head or hat.
Jot some ideas down. Decide upon a theme. Link your ideas into your theme. Remember to note those people you need to mention and thank. If you find yourself absolutely stuck, “The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations” by J.M. & M.J. Cohen is an excellent reference. One or two jokes are fine, but keep well away from “blue” jokes – unless you are Jim Davidson such jokes are rarely funny!
On the day, try not to read from a script. Have the key points written on a card(s). To ensure you do not forget your notes fax a copy addressed to yourself to the wedding reception venue in advance!
Order of Wedding Toasts and Speeches:
You will need to find out from the bride/groom if they are having a Master of Ceremonies. If they are then the following will be agreed with the MC. Click here for the role of the Master of Ceremonies.
If not as the best man you will need to agree when the speeches are to be given, either prior to, or after, desserts as this can vary. Traditionally it is after the meal is finished and plates cleared away. The best man signals for champagne to be served ready for the toasts.
– the best man asks for silence and calls upon the bride’s father to speak, introducing him as he does so
– the bride’s father speaks and proposes the toast to “The Bride and Groom”
– the groom responds, gives his speech and proposes a toast to “The Bridesmaids”
– the best man responds on behalf of the bridesmaids, gives his speech and reads out any telegrams, emails, or messages
– other toasts may be requested, e.g. to absent friends
– the bride and groom cut the wedding cake
Nowadays, it is not uncommon for the bride to make a short speech. The best man should inquire of the bride whether or not this is her intention. If the bride’s father is deceased and the bride was “given away” by an uncle, brother, or close friend, then the bride’s mother may wish to speak in addition to the male relative/friend.