The Bloke’s Wedding Speech

One of the highlights of a wedding reception is – or should be! – the speeches.

A wedding speech is normally offered by the father of the bride, the best man and the groom.

The father’s speech

Although he may well have financed much, or all, of the event, the bride’s father will only be expected to make a short speech. He may make some (flattering!) reference to the groom and his family, but his job is really to thank everyone for coming and to invite them to have a wonderful time.

The Best Man’s speech

The Best Man has unparalleled knowledge of the groom, and will normally use it to great advantage. He will relate (hopefully!) funny anecdotes that indicate some character traits that not everybody may realise – or, even better, that they do all recognise! The speech should last between about five and ten minutes, depending.

The Best Man (and all speech-makers) should steer clear of politics, insults, bad language and religion.

The Groom’s speech

Just as one hopes the Best Man’s speech will shed light on the groom in a witty and entertaining manner, so the Groom has his chance to talk about his new wife. He will also want to thank people who have made the day possible (including the guests), but he will probably want to demonstrate his affection and express his emotions in some way.


It is vital that the speech is not too long. Ten minutes should be quite enough. It should focus on the bride – what she means to him, possibly how bride and groom met and maybe an anecdote that shows why he chose her. Vitally, it should be sincere.

Of course, the Groom needs to thank everyone who contributed to the wedding (not just financially!). So it will be the parents of the bride, the participants (bridesmaids, ushers, etc.) and the guests. Absent friends may be mentioned here. Without overdoing it, a bit about the Best Man could go in (preferably, including a story about something he and the Groom both got up to once).


It’s unwise to rely on memory (especially on such a day), but reading out from a long script can be boring. The Groom should refer to notes, and try and keep eye contact with his audience as much as possible.

However, when talking about his new wife, what attracted him, why he loves her, recounting an interesting/humorous episode together, the Groom can address his remarks directly to her. A compliment is unlikely to be taken amiss (and the guests will love it too!).

It’s important to try and vary delivery, so it is not monotonous.


A good tip, however much nerves may be jangling, the Groom should take his time, and avoid mumbling or gabbling. He should speak loudly and clearly. People will really want to hear what he has to say, so it’s not good to frustrate and deprive them!


Starting with a joke is fine. However, the joke must be funny – and not crude or offensive. Rather than telling lame jokes, it may be better to leave them out altogether.

If the groom is determined to tell a joke, it should be directed gently at the best man (NOT at the new in-laws, unless it is definitely appropriate and they will be OK with it! Starting a marriage off on the wrong foot is not advisable…).

I took a great risk at my wedding, because I chose to be quite rude about my new wife. I got away with it (although I am still suffering the fall-out to this day!) because my comments were funny (no, really!), but it’s a dangerous game to play.


When the Groom has done what he set out to achieve, he should stop while he’s ahead. He can propose a toast to the bridesmaids and/or his wife and then pass the microphone to his Best Man.

Notes to Grooms

  • Don’t forget to thank your in-laws if they financed the affair. Thank your father-in-law for his speech (and for producing such a wonderful daughter). Thank everybody on behalf of your wife too. Make mention of guests from afar, or special guests, your in-laws and your own parents. Don’t thank the caterers, florists etc. who have been paid for their services. Try not to spend too long thanking people. However, feel free to thank your celebrant!
  • Don’t read out long lists.
  • Resist the temptation to get blind drunk before your speech!
  • Check beforehand with your Best Man that there’s no clash or excessive overlap/repetition in what you are both going to say in your speeches.

Prepare thoroughly beforehand, remember the tips about delivery, and you will give a wonderful speech that you will enjoy making and your guests will love hearing.

The Best Speech for the Best Man

Concluding my trilogy on wedding speeches, I’d like to focus on the Best Man’s speech.

The role

The Best Man may have had little to do, as far as the wedding itself has been concerned – possibly, as little as handing over the rings when requested; he may, however, have been involved at every stage along the way, welcoming guests, keeping the groom happy and informed, dealing with any hitches, liaising with the wedding planner and/or venue and even organising the order of photographs. Either way, his spotlight moment is yet to come.

The speech

He has been chosen to be Best Man (normally) because he is the groom’s best friend. He may not know the bride at all well, but he certainly knows the groom. What he is expected to do at the reception, in summary, is to deliver an entertaining speech which will reveal the groom’s character, often by means of anecdote.


The purpose

One thing the Best Man wants to do is to set the tone for the proceedings – hence, the need for a light, humorous discourse. There may be no need to tell jokes, especially if that doesn’t come naturally, but a well-crafted anecdote or two can work wonders (and embarrass the groom beautifully!).


The Method

Five to ten minutes will normally be adequate. The speech should probably contain something nice about the bride (possibly implying that the groom is incredibly lucky to have made such a catch). Otherwise, it should cover a few (preferably funny) stories about the groom and his youthful escapades. It doesn’t go amiss to mention a few of his better qualities too.


  • The Best Man may have worked hard and may well be thirsty. He may well be nervous at the prospect of speechifying (most of us are). But, however tempting it may be, the Best Man should not allow alcohol to get the better of him. (Once he has done his duties, he can let himself go as he pleases, but definitely not yet!)
  • The guests are not at this wedding specifically because the Best Man will be delivering a speech. Therefore, brevity is better than meandering, and self-indulgence will not be appreciated.
  • Don’t be too cruel. The groom is entitled to to enjoy his big day and you want your friendship to survive!
  • If the audience is not engaged, the speech risks falling flat. As half the guests may be unfamiliar with the groom, long tales featuring numerous named cronies will not be inclusive, and may turn listeners off.
  • Avoid bad language, religion and politics – and, especially, insulting the bride’s family.
  • Don’t mumble or look down too much (see my previous blog ).


Briefly, clearly, fluently, poke some affectionate fun at the groom; keep the tone light; include the guests as much as possible (through eye contact and suitable content). In a disciplined way, make sure you enjoy yourself – and the rest of the room will be enjoying themselves too.


Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.