How to write a decent groom’s speech

Originally in You and Your Wedding. I do a speech writing service using these principles for Olivia Soleto Weddings.

DO start with a compliment
“Your wife is the star of the show today, so it’s right that you start by outlining just how wonderful she looks and how lucky you are to be her husband. Describing her as ‘my wife’ is an easy way to get a big round of applause. Describing in fine detail the actual cost of the wedding isn’t”

DON’T try to wing it.

“Some people can do an-off-the-cuff speech. These people are called stand-up comedians. Instead, you should type out your speech in full, then read, re-read and edit it until you’re happy with it. Forget memory cards, print the speech off and read directly from it – that’s what the pros do. A tip: Increase the font size and separate your paragraphs so the speech is easier to scan, and underline your gags so you know exactly what to emphasize.”

DO keep the bridesmaids onside

“While you and your idiot mates have been in the boozer since 11am, your wife’s been squeezing into The Dress, worrying over flowers and breaking down in tears for no apparent reason. It’s only her bridesmaids that have kept her going. Thank them, because let’s face it, after six pints of Stella you’ll be in no position to offer any sensible advice should she get weepy again.”

DON’T let sentiment turn into schmaltz
“Obviously you want to tell everyone how much you adore your wife, but if your speech starts resembling the inside of a cheap Valentine’s card, then it won’t just be the prawn starter that’s making everyone throw up. Rib her a bit, it’s fine – but be careful. Mention her driving: laughs. Mention her weight: instant divorce.”

DO name names

“Thank your parents, her parents, the venue and the guests for all their help in making the wedding special, but keep it brief. No one wants to hear you waxing on about how the day wouldn’t have been the same without the bloke who delivered the sausage rolls.”

DON’T repeat what her dad said
“Your father-in-law will be making the hardest speech of his life, finally letting go of His Little Girl. Him reminiscing about her falling off her bike or her seventh birthday is a way of reminding you that he’ll happily break your legs if you even look at another woman. If he cries, everyone will understand. If you cry, it’ll look as though you’re sleeping with someone else.”

DON’T bang on about the stag night
“Everyone knows you’ll have been a bit naughty, so keep it vague. A long treatise about the qualities of Tallinn’s brothels will mean your wedding night will be colder than an Estonian prison cell. Something you’re probably familiar with.”

DO make sure jokes are actually funny
“Jokes work by taking people down one road, then pulling them in another direction, so bear that in mind. If you’re really stuck, you can take gags off the internet, but tailor them to your circumstances, don’t just copy and paste, especially as often they’re written for an American audience. Finally, remember not to swear and don’t acutely embarrass anyone. Those wedding day cheques won’t have cleared yet.”

DON’T go on too long

“No matter how funny you think you are don’t let your speech go over eight minutes. You’re not Barack Obama. And if you are, why are you reading this? You married Michelle years ago.”

DO finish with a compliment

“It’s the one part of the speech where you’re expected to be romantic, so let your wife know how wonderful she is. But again, don’t go on for more than a couple of sentences – you don’t want to start sounding like Barbara Cartland.”


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