7 Tips for Writing a Better Wedding Speech

Updated on October 21, 2019
davidbtubbs profile image

David has been a writer for more than a decade having ghostwritten hundreds of speeches for executives in business and academia.

Being asked to speak at a wedding is an honor, but if you've never written a speech before, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Being asked to speak at a wedding is an honor, but if you've never written a speech before, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Speeches are a time-honored tradition at any wedding. Between groomsmen, bridesmaids, and the parents of the newlyweds, there are a lot of people who are expected to hop up to the microphone and say a few words.

It can feel daunting to start writing a speech if you've never written one before, but it doesn't have to be a challenge. It can actually be a truly wonderful part of the wedding tradition as you reflect on the happy couple and try to put their love into words.

Here are a few tips to help you write a speech that will draw in your audience and delight the newlyweds.

1. Start by Writing Down What You Know About the Couple

Writing a speech does not have to be complicated, but many people approach it like a creative writing exercise when it is more like a well-articulated report with emotion and narrative. You need to start this process by having the facts at the ready.

You can do this by compiling answers to some basic questions, such as:

  • When and where did the couple meet?
  • How do you know them?
  • What do you like most about each of them?
  • What do they have in common?
  • What do you think makes them strong, life-long partners?
  • What examples of their love have you witnessed?

These are some basic questions you can write out answers to that might give you inspiration as to what you'll say about the happy couple in front of a crowd of friends and family. Plus, penning answers to these simple questions will get your writing gears turning, which is not always easy if you're not a professional writer.

Writing down the facts is the first step in getting your thoughts aligned.
Writing down the facts is the first step in getting your thoughts aligned.

2. Avoid Trying to Be Funny or Insulting

There is an immediate urge to try to utilize the stage to entertain. For the most part, that's not what a wedding speech is designed to do. If you have a funny story to relay about the couple that emphasizes the strength of their relationship, such as how the groom couldn't manage to change a tire on their first date but the bride stepped in to fix it and it ended in their first kiss, by all means, take the time to tell it. It's important though to not make either of the newlyweds the butt of the joke.

It's much easier to connect with your audience and the newlyweds through emotion. The couple will remember that time you tried to be funny and ended up insulting them in front of their closest friends and family. That's not the legacy you want to leave with your wedding speech.

Keeping your speech short might feel like you're not doing the couple justice, but know that short doesn't mean less impactful.
Keeping your speech short might feel like you're not doing the couple justice, but know that short doesn't mean less impactful.

3. Keep Your Speech Under Five Minutes

The Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long, and yet it was remembered for how powerful it was regardless of its short length. President Lincoln conveyed sincerity, passion, and a meaningful message in a speech that lasted less than two minutes. There is no reason your wedding speech should extend more than three times that length.

If you are looking for a guide as to how many words your speech should be, I tend to use this formula: 150 words = 1 minute of speech

This is on the high end of words per minute. It is important to note that everyone speaks at a different rate, and those not accustomed to public speaking tend to speak faster than normal. It is a natural reflex when nervous or stressed and is why I believe 150 words/minute is a good place to start.

I recommend you practice saying your speech aloud to test how fast you will be speaking. It's a good measure to keep in mind when trying to keep your speech to a tight five minutes or less.

4. Organize a Structure to Your Speech

One of the biggest mistakes people can make when delivering a speech is to try and wing it. This tactic often results in a winding and disjointed speech that is hard to follow. Unless you are a seasoned orator, like a professor, teacher, or semi-professional life coach, you will want to write your speech to flow in a similar way a novel does.

Here is a sample structure of themes for a wedding speech that you can use:

  1. Congratulate the newlyweds.
  2. Remark on the beauty of the wedding.
  3. Thank the couple for letting you share in their special day.
  4. Talk about how their love inspires you and how much they have impacted your life.
  5. Tell a (quick) story from either the beginning of your relationship with one or both of them, the beginning of their relationship, or from the lead up to the wedding (absolutely no bachelor or bachelorette stories).
  6. Congratulate them one last time.
  7. Offer a toast in celebration of the couple.

This is a sample structure of how I've written wedding speeches over the years. There's a flow to this organization that starts with the day, recognize the happy couple, connect you to their love, and is rounded out with a final congratulations and toast.

Don't forget to end your speech with a cheers to the happy couple. This is especially important if you are the first to speak.
Don't forget to end your speech with a cheers to the happy couple. This is especially important if you are the first to speak.

5. Pick the Right Story

Stories are powerful tools when delivering any speech, and a wedding speech is certainly no different. Congratulatory words and nice statements about the flowers and room decor simply won't cut it. A story can add emotion. It can go beyond words and paint a picture that adds context to the couple's love, your love for them, and how your audience can glimpse that connection.

The trick, however, is picking the right story about the couple. Remember to make it about the couple—not you, not the family members, and absolutely not any former partners either member of the couple may have had in the past.

It sounds obvious, but I've heard speeches at weddings that go off the rails and down the "when Daniel was with Claire before he met Jennifer," and that is not something you should be bringing up in casual conversation, let alone at a wedding.

6. Keep Your Sentences Short

The most important thing to remember when writing any speech is that you do not speak like you write or read. We often write in long, 35-word sentences with carefully written punctuation to make it sound good and grammatically correct. This is not now you write a speech. Long sentences are difficult to read aloud, even if you were the wordsmith of the speech.

Start by writing shorter sentences. Nothing more than 20 words long. You will be a little nervous as you give the speech, even with a couple glasses of champagne to give you courage, so by keeping your sentences short you will be able to create a solid cadence as your speak. This means you will pause to take a breath regularly. If possible, write as close to how you talk as possible.

Have someone review the speech after a couple of drafts to evaluate if it does, in fact, sound like you. This also means you will need to practice it out loud and test if you need to shorten sentences or rewrite sections that are a little difficult to say. Remember, reading something is very different than saying it out loud.

7. Rewrite, Rewrite, and Rewrite Again

Your first draft is never your best draft. Rewriting is an essential part of writing anything and a wedding speech is no different. Giving yourself the time to rewrite lines and more thoroughly go through the emotions of a wedding speech will do wonders.

Make no mistake. A wedding speech is an emotional endeavor. It's not a presentation at work where you are simply trying to relay information and a message in an effective manner. You are trying to connect and pay respect to the joining of two people on one of the most important days of their lives. Taking the time to ensure you are saying exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it is essential and that is only possible through careful revisions.

Yes, it adds time to the whole process, but great speeches rarely come from off the cuff.

Remember to have fun and not to stress too much. If you follow these tips, say what's in your heart, and ensure you toast to the lovely couple, the speech will be a success.

Good luck.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 David Tubbs

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • davidbtubbs profile imageAUTHOR

        David Tubbs 

        3 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        Thanks Liz! They can feel high pressure, but should be a lot of fun.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        This is a great wedding speech writing tool and checklist. There's a lot of pressure on the sppech giver to get the balance right.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)