Dos And Don’ts Of Wedding Speeches

July 6, 2018  |  
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Gettyimages.com/microphone at a wedding

Wedding speeches are a very complex and delicate thing. You want to make them personal, so that the couple doesn’t think you just printed off some templet for “Wedding speeches” online. Obviously, the couple should be able to tell that you put a lot of thought into this. That being said, you can’t get so personal that the audience feels left out, doesn’t know what you’re talking about, or even feels uncomfortable. You need to strike that perfect balance between humorous and serious. You need to consider that there is a range of ages at that wedding—possibly spanning from one-year-olds to 90-year-olds—and so you can’t include too many super specific-to-your generation references, or crude words. You want to nail this speech, but one little slipup could make the couple regret asking you to speak. Here are the dos and don’ts of wedding speeches.

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Don’t: list off the exes

Do not list off every ex of the bride/groom (whomever you’re closest to). You may think it’s a way of showing how far they’ve come, how much they’ve learned, and what competition the spouse was up against. But you’re just making everyone uncomfortable and bringing up painful topics.

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Do: highlight why this match is perfect

You can speak about why this particular match is perfect—why your good friend’s new spouse is just right for him or her. But focus on why they’re right for each other, and don’t talk about why others who’ve come and gone were wrong.

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Don’t: make it all about you

I’d take a good look at your speech—maybe have someone else look it over—and make sure there isn’t too much “I”, “Me,” and “My” in there. This speech is not about you. It’s not your time to make yourself look adorable and quirky, or your time to make people pity you.

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Do: say what the couple adds to your life

You can include yourself in the speech by talking about how much the couple brings to your life. In fact, you can use that as a launching point to talk about how much they add to everyone’s lives that they touch.

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Don’t: do an inside, inside joke

If only you and the newlyweds know what the inside joke is about, don’t include it in the speech. Everyone else will feel uncomfortable, and even wonder if they’re sitting witness to an offensive inside joke.

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Do: add some humor

Definitely pepper some jokes in there. If your speech is too serious, things are just awkward when it’s over. On that note, you may want to end with a joke.

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Don’t: give the speech begrudgingly

Even if you absolutely hate public speaking and told the couple many times that you did not want to do a speech, now that that speech is here, you need to pretend you’re happy to do it. Don’t tell everyone, over and over again, how much you hate doing this.

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Do: say you public speak because you love them

You can quickly touch on the fact that public speaking isn’t your strong suit—so people can manage their expectations—but then dive into saying that you’re happy to do it for a couple you love so much.

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Don’t: get wasted before your speech

Just wait until your speech is over before taking advantage of that open bar. I promise you that if you’re drunk when you give your speech, you’ll improvise and take some creative risks that will not pay off.

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Do: speak for at least a minute

If you are going to give a speech, write at least a minute of material. Anything less makes it seem like you really didn’t want to do this at all—you’d be better off giving no speech in that case.

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Don’t: speak for ten minutes

Have some awareness that people want to get back to their private conversations, want to hit the bar, need to go to the bathroom, or are just too buzzed to pay attention for a long time. Don’t speak for ten minutes. Three to five is a nice compromise.

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Do: talk about their history

Tell the story of this couple. Talk about the first time you met your friend’s new spouse, and how you watched their relationship bloom. People like to hear a bit of the backstory.

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Don’t: mention the bumps/fights

You can leave out the fights, the times they may have broken up, and all the complaining they do about each other.

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Do: talk about your history with your friend

You can certainly talk a bit about your history with your friend. You can include some funny stories from childhood, high school, and college, and how you’ve seen this person you’ve known since childhood bloom so much since meeting his or her new spouse.

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Don’t: add sordid stories

You can leave out stories that have to do with drugs, arrests, or one-night stands. Oh, or indecent exposure.

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