Wedding Series: Speeches and readings

From best man and couples’ speeches, to writing your vows – here are some tips on how to smash it on your big day.

Giving a speech in a room full of people can be really daunting, even if it’s just your closest friends and family. From handling nerves to brushing up on your presentation skills, there’s lots you can do to make the process less stressful and make your speech memorable for all the right reasons.

Couples speeches are now officially a ‘thing’, and it will make your wedding more unique and show your personality as a couple without the high emotion of the ceremony. If you choose to go down this road you’ll need to include all of the traditional content of the groom’s speech which will involve thanking everyone – parents, bridesmaids, best man etc. – as well as adding humorous anecdotes about each other and members of the wedding party.

Whatever your role in the wedding, if you’re on the list for a speech these five pointers will help with your planning.

photo credit Blaqpix


Who is your audience? How do you want your speech to be remembered? Where will you be giving the speech? How long does it need to be?

Put pen to paper

The best speeches are the ones that are deeply personal. Writing your speech is a process of getting everything you want to say down on paper and then ruthlessly cutting out content so you’re left with the best bits. If anything doesn’t flow, remove it.

Don’t be afraid to try something different

Use props or slideshows - the internet is full of great ideas for changing things up a little.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

The best speeches may be from the heart, but there’s nothing like a bit of preparation to pull it off with flare and panache.

Deliver with confidence

If you’ve done all of the above then you should be full of self-assurance. Go forth and entertain!

photo credit: Natasha Ferreira

The vows

Your wedding vows and the most important and meaningful part of your big day. Writing your own vows gives you the option to add more sentiment and personalisation to your ceremony.

There are a few rules to take into consideration. Legally a civil ceremony cannot contain vows, readings or music that have any religious references. You do have to have the statutory declarations and call upon those present to witness your vows, but other than that, you can pretty much include anything you like, from a meaningful poem to romantic quotes from your favourite films. The important thing to remember is that they should come from the heart.

Take inspiration from your favourite romantic movies – the most memorable ones –

The speech Hugh Grant gives as best man is the perfect combination of sentiment and humour - “I am, as ever, in bewildered awe of anyone who makes this kind of commitment as Angus and Laura have made today”. Yes, he had script writers do it for him, but you get the gist!

The best man speech

It can be nerve-wracking when you become the chosen one to stand up in front of a large group of friends and strangers with huge expectations to make them laugh and cry. But there are a number of inappropriate comments and phrases that need to be edited out of your moment in the spotlight.


What to avoid

Inappropriate stories from the groom’s past

In-jokes only the lads will get

Offensive comments about any of the guests

Risky remarks about honeymoon activities


What to include

An introduction and how you know the groom

Clean jokes at the groom’s expense

Advice on love and marriage

Compliments to the bride

A toast to the happy couple


Five ways to guarantee a laugh

Tell tales

Use props

Get the guests involved

Poke fun at yourself

Open with a joke

If the thought of writing your own vows or speeches fills you with dread, fear not, there are hundreds of examples and templates online that you can customise.

You can also find advice on structure, as well as tips for success and examples of speeches – good and bad!

As a couple, this is the most important day of your life so it makes sense to put in the time and effort to perfect it. If you’re giving a speech as another member of the wedding party it might be a good idea to connect with your fellow speech-givers to coordinate content and bolster confidence.  Good luck!