There is only one thing I strongly encourage all of the grooms I work with to exclusively* do during their wedding reception: deliver a Groom’s Speech. For some, the fear in their eyes shows immediate as I speak those two words; many grooms already dread having to write, and speak, their own wedding vows.
The fact is, a Groom’s Speech shouldn’t be something you fear at all; you should look forward to it. Not only is it a great way to thank those that helped make the wedding reception possible, but it also allows you to reflect on an event that brought two families together. And there are two simple elements to an effective Groom’s Speech: heart and light, playful humor. (Warning: if your humor tends to be sarcastic, tread lightly. In public speaking, it’s best to error towards the safe side.)
From my experience as a Wedding MC & DJ, I have found that there are two ideal times to deliver the Groom’s Speech: after the Grand Entrance, or after the formal wedding toasts. Speak with your Master of Ceremonies on the timing of your Groom’s Speech during your reception, as it will greatly help you with writing your opening remarks.
Now, let’s look at a basic template for a Groom’s Speech:
Depending on where in the order of formalities you are delivering your Groom’s Speech will be of importance here. If it is after the Grand Entrance, you could begin along the lines of:
“WOW! There are A LOT of people here. On behalf of my wife – how cool is that I get to say that now! – thank you all for coming.”
If after the formal toasts, it is as simple as thanking the whoever toasted before you. For example:
“Thank you Greg for your kind words, and also thank you to Sally, Michael, and Anne for your toasts this evening, as well. There were all fantastic and my wife and I are honored and humbled by them. Now, it’s my turn.”
Use your opening remarks as a segue from what just happened to the point of your speech: a ton of thank you’s. Ideally, 15-30 seconds for the Opening Remarks is sufficient, however, if you think you have something captivating, feel free to go for it.
Thank The Wedding Party
First of your thank you’s goes to the ones that stood by you and your wife’s side at the ceremony. First address the bridesmaids – praise them for looking simply stunning this evening – and then thank them for all their time and efforts in making this day possible, and helping your wife throughout the entire planning process. Trust me, they put in 20 times the amount of work your groomsmen do.
Of course, you should thank your groomsmen for standing next to you at the ceremony and for always having your back. You may refer to your Bachelor Party as a great time of bonding you’ll always treasure and remember, but it is best to leave 99.9% of the stories from that time out of your speech. Remember, heart and light, playful humor that your grandmother will love.
Thank Key Individuals
If there are individuals outside of your wedding party and family that went above and beyond at any point during the buildup to your wedding reception, make sure you acknowledge them. Perhaps you had friends who sacrificed their evenings to help get RSVPs compiled, addressed, stamped, and into the mailbox. Or maybe your aunt baked all of the cupcakes and pies at the dessert bar. Whoever they are, whatever they did, honor them with a public shout out and make them feel special.
Thank Your Family
Next, turn to the members of your immediate family. Thank your parents for your upbringing – don’t be afraid to express some humility! – and feel free to share a humorous and amusing anecdote from your childhood years. I realize family situation was different, but for me, I would thank my brother for being my polar opposite and how it taught me to not be so serious; my father for being my role model on how to be a man; and my mother for simply being amazing. In fact, every groom should include in his speech that his mother is, or was if she has passed, amazing.
Thank Your Bride’s Family
After thanking your family, it’s time to turn to your new parents and thank them for not only hosting the reception, but welcoming you into their family as their new son. Find a couple of positives to say about each family member – maybe even share a quick anecdote that is playful and amusing – and then thank them for raising a beautiful girl, who had you never had met before, you would be worse off.
The trick is to play this one completely safe. If you have a sarcastic sense of humor, avoid using it unless it has gone over extremely well at past family events. Even then, tread lightly: keep in mind that your new parents-in-law often include some of their close friends a seat at the reception as they want to showcase their daughter’s wedding day. When in doubt, keep it classy and be charming.
Thank Your Bride
After thanking her parents, it is easy to segue to your new wife; here, you will speak openly and honestly about how much you love her, and don’t forget to tell her how beautiful she looks. I advise my grooms that this section needs to accomplish three things:
- Make Her Smile & Laugh. Fairly easy to do as you are using light, playful humor.
- Make Her Shed A Tear. Also easy to do if you are speaking from the heart. Just avoid sounding like a Hallmark’s Valentine Day card. #Cheesy
- Share The Moment You Knew She Was The One. Everyone loves a good story and I’ve found this to be the one that people love.
If you do these three things right – which means you need to put some serious thought and planning into this, gentlemen – you will have the whole room shedding a tear. That’s a very powerful emotional attachment; you’ll have everyone in the palm of your hand. And likely a ton of married women asking their husbands why they couldn’t have been a romantic stud like you on their wedding day. You’re welcome, gentlemen.
All in all, the majority of your Groom’s Speech needs to be dedicated to your new wife. I recommend three to five minutes, which shouldn’t be difficult at all.
Thank Guests and “The Flip”
Before you conclude, you have one last expression of gratitude to offer. It’s also the more important one.
“On behalf of my wife – again, how cool is it to say that! – as much as this is our wedding day, we’ve designed this party for you, our closest family and friends. So please, eat, drink, get down on the dance floor, meet new friends, reacquaint with old ones, stay as long as you can, and have a fantastic time celebrating with us. Thank you so much for coming – we love you!“
From there, work with your Master of Ceremonies on the proper transition to the next formality. I have a great one that I share with my clients, and if you are recently engaged and would like to find out what it is, please schedule a consultation with me. I’d love to meet you both.
Remember, this is merely a template and, as any speechwriter would attest, the best speech is one that flows naturally and smoothly from point to point. Please feel free to modify to your style and liking. Just don’t steal a speech written online, and definitely do not be THAT guy and buy a speech online. You have plenty of time leading up to the wedding to brainstorm, write, and practice. There is no excuse.
The most important thing: be authentic. While you may continue to research past this post for further ideas and inspiration, remember that the best groom speeches come from the heart and are spoken in your own words. You may not have the best sense of humor, you may not have the best vocabulary. But as long as the words have soul and meaning behind them, it’s going to be all good. Authenticity trumps everything else.
* Brides, if you would like to join your husband in saying a few words, do not feel that I am discouraging you from doing so. You are more than welcome to and your MC should introduce it as “a few words from our guests of honor”, or similar fashion. However, since I have written this blog post in the form of a “How To Do A Groom’s Speech” article, I am exclusively speaking to your man here. 😉