Below are a few guidelines to follow when preparing a wedding reception speech as a maid of honor or best man. Obviously, every event is different and what works for one crowd may not work for another, but the following is a series of elements that seem to make for a good speech time and time again.
Have a plan
It is best to plan what you are going to say, but do not read directly from a card. A lot of the sincerity in your speech is lost if it sounds like you are reading the evening news. Jot down general notes so you do not get off track, but make sure you are speaking from the heart. Speak loudly and clearly and don’t drink too much before you deliver your speech. One or two cocktails to loosen up is fine, but no one wants to listen to a drunk person on the microphone. Remember, it is the bride and groom’s day, let’s not bring it down.
Thank the hosts
Because most parents help with the wedding costs, it is nice to thank the parents/hosts. “Before we go any further, I think we should all thank the Smith’s for this beautiful evening. I would also like to thank the Jones’ for the rehearsal dinner.”
Begin by introducing yourself. Be sure to mention how you know the bride and groom and how long you’ve known them. During your entire speech, practice eye contact with the audience as well as with the bride and groom. Try not to pace back and forth while speaking. TIP: For photo’s sake, it is really nice if you are standing behind and between the bride and groom while speaking.
Keep it short
As you begin the actual speech, remember this: a good speech should be short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the essentials. You may want to begin with a joke about the bride or groom or marriage in general, but keep it tasteful. You should keep all content rated PG for kids and grandmothers in the room.
Telling an interesting anecdote about the bride or groom is a great way to captivate the audience, but know what details are appropriate and necessary for the story. Also, try to stick to one really good story as opposed to recounting a series of average stories. You are talking to an audience of people that all know the bride and groom for different reasons and not everyone is going to understand the inside jokes and vague references. Tip: There is a difference between funny and humiliating. A sore subject can ruin the night for the bride and groom. It is an honor to be selected to give a speech at a wedding, never abuse your position.
Be sure to have balance in your speech. If you are the best man, talk about the bride as much as you talk about the groom. Same is true if you are the maid of honor. Also try to balance humor with sentiment. Remember, speak from the heart and let the couple know how happy you are for them and how honored you are to be speaking on their behalf.
In closing, ask everyone to raise their glasses and deliver a concise, but heartfelt toast: “To Jack and Jill, we wish them a lifetime love, laughter and happiness.” The choices are limitless for a toast: create a custom toast, research your options online or consult with a family member for a traditional toast that may reflect the couple’s ethnicity. “I’d like to finish with a traditional Irish toast: “May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.”
Always remember, when giving a speech at a wedding reception, you reflect on the bride and groom. Utilize a few of the tips above and the bride and groom will really appreciate it.
If you have questions or need expert planning advice, contact Music By Design.