I strongly encourage each of the grooms I work with to do a Groom’s Speech. Why? Because it is classy, it shows a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude towards your guests, and perhaps most importantly of all: it exemplifies why you are THE MAN on your wedding day.
Even if public speaking isn’t your forte, the Groom’s Speech shouldn’t be something you fear at all; in fact, you should look forward to it. Not only is it a fantastic way to thank those that helped make the wedding day possible, but it also allows you to reflect on an event that brought two families together as one. And there are two simple elements to an effective Groom’s Speech: heart and light, playful humor.
In other words… be James Bond.
Now, I can’t write your speech for you. But I can help you out with a basic outline, which with some clever segues and transitions, will flow naturally between points. Let’s examine a basic template for a Groom’s Speech, along with some advice for each point:
- Opening Remarks (~15-30 seconds)
Depending on where in the order of formalities you are delivering your Groom’s Speech will be of importance here. If you are speaking 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 it that I get to say that now! – thank you all for coming.”
If you are speaking after the formal toasts, it is as simple as thanking whoever toasted before you. For example:
“Thank you, Greg, for your kind words, and thank you to Sally, Michael, and Anne for your toasts this evening as well. They were all fantastic, and my wife and I are honored and humbled by your words. Now… it’s my turn.”
Use your opening remarks as a segue from what just happened to the objective of your speech: expressing a ton of gratitude. Ideally, 15-30 seconds for the Opening Remarks is sufficient, however, if you think you have something more captivating to say, feel free to go for it.
- Thank Your Parents (~30-60 seconds)
Naturally, start by thanking your parents, as appropriate to your family situation. Thank your parents for your upbringing – don’t be afraid to express some humility! – and feel free to share an anecdote or two from your childhood years: memorable, humorous, and/or amusing.
If you desire so, you may also thank your grandparents and siblings, as well. Again, it is completely up to you and your family tree.
- Thank Your Bride’s Parents (~30-60 seconds)
After thanking your parents, it is time to turn to your new in-laws and thank them for 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 daughter, who had you never had met before, you would be worse off.
The trick here 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, I advise you to tread lightly: keep in mind that your new parents-in-law often invite some of their closest friends and work colleagues to the reception, many of whom you have never met before. When in doubt, stay classy and be charming.
- Your Bride (~2-3 minutes)
After thanking her parents, it is easy to segue to your bride. I recommend two to three minutes, which shouldn’t be difficult at all. 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 cheesy Valentine’s Day card.
- Share The Moment You Knew She Was The One
Everyone loves a good love story and I’ve found this to be the most powerful part of the Groom’s Speech. You win over EVERYONE here, even the catering staff.
If you do these three things right – which means you need to put some serious thought and planning into this – you will have the whole room in the palm of your hand, and perhaps shedding a tear. You’ve just created a powerful emotional attachment to your celebration. Everyone feels a part of something special.
But you aren’t done just yet, Mr. Bond.
- Thank The Wedding Party (As Necessary)
The next set of “thank you’s” are directed 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.
Of course, you should also thank your groomsmen for their efforts 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 experience out of your speech. Remember heart and light, playful humor that even your elder guests will love.
- Thank Key People That Went Above & Beyond (As Necessary)
If there are individuals outside of your wedding party and family that went above and beyond at any point during the wedding planning, make sure you acknowledge them. Perhaps you had friends who sacrificed a couple of evenings to assist with the RSVPs, addressing them, stamping them, and dropping them in the mail. Or maybe one of your guests baked all the cupcakes and pies for the dessert bar.
Whoever they are, whatever they did, honor them with a public shout-out and make them feel special.
- Thank Guests Again & Flip (~15 seconds)
Before you conclude, you have one last expression of gratitude to offer: thank your guests for coming and let them know this party is for them.
The following paragraph has been perfected over my career, and if you say it with genuine authenticity and conviction, it will get a huge cheer. I give you full license to use it as you wish (keeping in mind slight alterations are needed depending on when you deliver your Groom’s Speech):
“As much as this is our wedding day, we have designed this party for you – our closest family and friends. So please, enjoy the food, drink a little too much – we do have transportation options for you! – get down on the dance floor, make new friends, reacquaint with old ones, and have a fantastic time this evening. On behalf of my wife – how cool is it to finally say that! – thank you so much for celebrating with us tonight! We love you!”
Congratulations, Mr. Bond, you just CRUSHED your Groom’s Speech!
TWO IMPORTANT NOTES
First, and most importantly: 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.
Second: 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 in a 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 husband here. 😉
Originally Published: August 1, 2019
Last Updated: November 27, 2021
Photo Credits: Crozier Photography