Matt’s Pontification on Groom Speeches – Part 1
I don’t purport to be an expert at giving speeches (far from it) but as a professional wedding-junkie, I thought I might be able to pass along a little sage advice on the subject.
You see, I’m not the world’s most confident speaker (understatement of the year) and at my own wedding I was faced with either giving an amazing speech to show my wife how much I love her, or spending a very sad honeymoon night alone. My nerves were shredded. I couldn’t eat a bite beforehand; despite the amazing feast served up (I still mourn the loss of that roast beef to this day).
Eventually, I even abandoned the reception room to sit outside and do a frantic re-write. When the fateful moment arrived, I stood up, took a deep breath and… actually it wasn’t too bad. Now years later, I consider all the things I could have done differently. Ah … the perks of hindsight.
So, this is what I’m doing – imparting my words of wisdom as a professional attendee of weddings. I hope the tips in this blog may help others avoid my pain and in a little way I can live vicariously through each and every one of you (cue maniacal laughter).
So What Is A Groom’s Speech?
First we need to understand exactly what a Groom’s speech is meant to achieve. Basically put, the Groom’s speech is your chance to thank all the people who have helped you on your big day and in a broader sense, your life. For instance, you may wish to thank your parents. This is traditional even if they have been an unmitigated nuisance in the preparations. In cases like this, just remember you’re thanking them for that time they pressed your shirt for that important interview and not for their most recent behaviour.
These thanks take the form of a series of toasts. So be sure to have wine or champagne available and swap out little Johnny’s stolen whiskey for fruit juice beforehand. It should be possible to arrange with the waiting staff to make these provisions towards the end of the meal. Alternatively, a gratuitous amount of booze served during the meal will ensure that no one will be without a drink on hand and make your audience easier to please. However, unless you want Uncle Harry whistling and catcalling through your speech, you might not want to go that route.
The speech may also include a section on what marriage means to you. I preferred not to do this at my wedding, opting instead for speed to be my underlying theme. However, looking back, I would recommend doing this. Essentially the best speech you give will be the one that comes from your heart. Oh so cheesy, but oh so true! Reflecting on the commitment you’ve just entered into will bring real emotion to the forefront, which can also do a lot for delivery and nerves.
For added fun, you can also repeat your ‘what marriage means to you’ speech to your bride later when you’re alone. For additional emphasis, you could repeat it in the style of your favourite dictator. She will appreciate this. Really. She will.
The Speech Breakdown (As seen on the Oscars)
The speeches traditionally take place at the end of the meal and before the cutting of the cake. Traditionally, the order of the speeches is thus:
- The Father of the Bride (In prehistoric times, he would have coughed up for the whole schabang and given you a hefty dowry to take his lovely daughter off his hands. In modern times, any number of people – or combinations of people – pay for the wedding.)
- Groom’s Speech (To thank the father of the Bride and reassure him that you will look after his delicate little flower and to thank the people who have helped bring your master plan to fruition).
- The Best Man (To introduce you to the bride’s family and friends who you presumably have hidden from in the attic every time they’ve visited. Additionally, the best man should generally spend most of the speech saying what a spiffing guy and great catch you are).
As you can see, the traditional reasoning behind this order may not apply to your situation or you may feel it is very limiting. Perhaps the father of the Bride did not contribute to the wedding cost and your family did. Whatever the reasons, the point is this order is a rough guideline, don’t be afraid to change it up.
Your father is perfectly at liberty to make a speech unless you can think of a way to stop him; likewise, your bride may choose to make a speech. It is up to you to find out who is clamouring to have their voice heard and to negotiate a mix of speakers that best suits you.
If your Bride is planning on making a speech, remember to discuss it beforehand to make sure you’re not covering the same material. A fun idea may be to combine speeches with your partner. This can really work when talking about situations such as how you met because you can cover the story from two different viewpoints (the truth and her side of the story).