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Wedding Speeches: Embracing the Epic and Avoiding a Disaster

What do open bars and wedding speeches have in common? They’re both personal challenges.


When attempting to conquer either, it’s rarely ever a contest against someone else. Instead, we pay a premium for the experience and test our limits to get our money’s worth. And let’s be honest, if you’re speaking at a wedding, the marriage is basically a stock you were somehow obligated to invest in, #AmIRight? But heyyy, you’ve got a microphone and the undivided attention of 200 people!


The ultimate goal of any wedding speech is to say something heartfelt and wish the couple well, sans choking or embarrassing yourself.  For the record, (SPOILER ALERT!) parent speeches will undoubtedly upstage you because they have the market cornered on cute stories. Let’s face it, they were there for their child’s first steps into their own arms and eventually into the others’ heart.


There’s no real way you’re topping that. So, in the end, you’re only competing against yourself.


Chances are, you’re going to do just fine. But, to help save you from yourself, here are some pointers on the key elements to master for your big moment on their day:


  1. Stay true to your perspective and relationship: Simply put, don’t try to tell a cute story from their college years or childhood you heard secondhand if you’re the post-grad friend or coworker.
  2. Insert cute/romantic/sentimental anecdote: An example of how ‘one is a better person’ because of the other, or that moment when you realized they were ‘perfect for each other’ will suffice.
  3. Winging it is acceptable, scripting it is not: Have a mental outline and let the story flow. Look at the bride and groom, shoot the parents an approving glance and make eye contact with the person you’re trying to impress. Your eyes should be everywhere and anywhere but on a note card or piece of paper.
  4. Short and sweet, too long enables it to go wrong: Brevity is key! Set the stage, share the facts, close the deal and raise the glass. There’s no set duration for something from the heart but you want the guests celebrating the bride and groom, NOT that you finally surrendered the microphone.
  5. Authenticity required while humor is optional: Don’t get me wrong, humor is a tremendous asset to any successful toast, but this isn’t open mic night. If you’re remotely unsure of how it could be received, leave it out. Be authentic and real. See also, tip #1.


If you were a mixologist and the speech was a cocktail, it would be two parts sentimental and one part praiseworthy. If you wanna go big, splashing it with a cultural or religious proverb and garnishing with gravitas never hurt anyone.


Most importantly, just as you don’t date someone to complete you but to complement you, don’t force a sentimental story if you weren’t there for any “magical” moments. Toasts can be equally successful whether they shine unique insight into the love shared by the perfect couple or come out as simple as “love and happiness, happiness and love,” so long as it’s authentic and from the heart.


Ultimately, they’re your friends, family and words. In all likelihood, the words will be forgotten but your presence in their celebration and the role you played in getting them there never will be.


Post by GHGH PR Team Member Chris Dougherty

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