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The Do’s and Don’ts of a Wonderful Wedding Speech

20 May 15 By: Lene McGuinness

There is so much to organise in the run-up to wedding day, from invitations and outfits to catering and much more. We know better than most since we supply catering equipment and furniture to weddings of every size. But spare a thought for the poor old best man, who has one of the toughest jobs of all: planning the best man’s speech.

We can’t write it for you, but we’ve collected some of our favourite tips for writing a great speech, which could help you along the way.

DON’T wing it

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail -- that credo was probably created by a former best man who’d blown tumbleweeds around a beautiful banquet hall, by throwing their speech together at the last moment. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to think about what you want to say and write a few drafts in advance.

DO practice

Once you’ve written your speech, don’t simply memorise it -- read it aloud. This will give you an idea of how long it will last and also whether you will have to rewrite sentences which you stumble on. The key to remember as much of the speech as possible is repetition. You don’t want to be a slave to the cue cards, so repeat your speech again and again, speaking slowly and placing great emphasis on the most important words. This should ensure that they stick.

DON’T ramble on

Everybody enjoys the wedding speeches but nobody wants them to last all night. In total, the speech should last for around 8 to 10 minutes and certainly no more. Go on for a lot longer and you will cause your audience to grow bored and restless, especially if there are several young ones among the congregation.

DO write a speech for everyone

If your speech is bursting with private memories and in-jokes it’s unlikely to go down well with the gathered crowd. Keep the majority relevant to everybody and avoid simply regaling them with tales of drunken debauchery on the stag weekend.

DON’T get drunk in advance

A drink ahead of the speech can take the edge off your nerves, but there is such a thing as too much Dutch courage. In order to deliver the best possible speech, your mind needs to be clear. Once you’re finished, you can sit down to a round of applause and enjoy a round of drinks to go with it.

DO dig around for great stories

Think you know the bride and groom? So do many of their other very welcome guests. Why not reach out to other people and find out more about them for your speech? You could dig out some interesting stories from other phases of their life from the people who knew them best.

DON’T write a stand-up comedy routine

Ok, everybody likes a good laugh during a best man speech. Still, you could miss the point if you focus purely on the chuckles and not the happy couple. This is especially true if all of your material is at their expense. You’re speaking at a celebration, so poking a little fun is fine -- just be sure to toast the happy couple too.

DO keep a lid on the sentiment

In spite of the previous point, it is important not to go too far in the opposite direction, because overly sentimental speeches can be dull. Again, you’re at a celebration so it’s important that you’re speech fits the bill. Overly schmaltzy speeches are likely to wear out their welcome quickly.

DON’T forget about other speakers

With so many years of memories to choose from, it is unlikely that you and a fellow speaker will recycle the same stories but best practice dictates that you should speak to other speech givers ahead of time to make sure that there are no frustrating overlaps to steal your thunder.

DO select a theme

Virtually all best man speeches string together a series of memories about the groom or the happy couple, while only the very best do so around a cohesive theme which ties the whole thing together. Choose a theme which fits 2 or 3 winning anecdotes and build your speech around it.