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But on such a happy occasion as a wedding, the audience is there out of love, so the panic is largely unnecessary. Here are some tips to guide you through:
DON’T WING IT
Preparation is the key for any good speech. So give yourself plenty of time to write and practise. Avoid relying too heavily on cue cards though – memorise the speech, and glance at the cards when necessary to keep you on track.
It is important to speak clearly and slowly, and to make sure everyone can hear you. Again, practice will help.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Think about who is in the room, and deliver an appropriate speech that everyone can enjoy. Avoid the questionable stories and injokes that only a few people will get. The humour and tone should appeal to everyone.
It is okay to lightly tease the person you are toasting. Think of silly stories, in which they were perhaps foolish but still lovable, that will make the room smile. Don’t just rely on your own material – contact friends and family of the person to gather a range of anecdotes.
INCLUDE THE OBVIOUS
Lavish a bit of praise on the bride and bridesmaids, and the families. People love to be mentioned and their efforts recognised.
While it may be tempting to get a bit of liquid courage, you will thank yourself later for not slurring through your speech. There will be plenty of time afterwards, so limit it to two drinks pre-speech.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The audience will not appreciate you droning on for 20 minutes. A five-to-10 minute speech is perfect for such an occasion, so ask someone to give you a cue to wrap things up.
TRADITIONAL TIPS FOR WEDDING SPEECHES
FATHER OF THE BRIDE
• Thanks the guests for coming and sharing in the special day.
• Thanks everyone who contributed to the cost of the wedding.
• Compliments and praises the bride, and welcomes her new husband into the family.
• Toasts the bride and groom.
• Thanks the father of the bride for his toast.
• Thanks the guests for attending and for their gifts.
• Thanks both sets of parents.
• Compliments his bride.
• Thanks his best man.
• Thanks and toasts the bridesmaids.
• Thanks the groom for his toasts to the bridesmaids.
• Comments on the bridal couple, particularly the groom.
• Reads any messages from absent friends and relatives.
• Ends with a final toast to the bride and groom.