Giving the perfect speech at a wedding is like making a joke on Twitter in 2019: it’s difficult to think of something that reads as funny and original to everyone AND doesn’t offend anyone at all. You have to balance joking with being sentimental, make sure what you’re saying fits the whole couple and not just the partner you’re closest with, and please the bride/groom while pleasing the entire crowd as well. Your friend may think the story about the bride blacking out on spring break in Cancun sophomore year is hysterical, but the bride’s grandmother probably won’t. On top of all of this, a room full of both strangers and familiar (but not necessarily friendly) faces is listening to you. On the latest episode of the U Up? podcast, Jared and Jordana broke down the dos and don’ts of giving a great wedding speech that will make everyone ask YOU for help writing their speeches for the next wedding.
1. Don’t Speak As A Group
As a bridesmaid or groomsman, having others up there by your side seems like it would make the speaking process way easier and more comfortable, which would in turn makes for a more effortless-sounding speech. But it actually ends up making everything sound way less cohesive and even more awkward. Jared points out, “Every time you switch people, you lose momentum. We don’t even get used to the tone of the speech because it changes seven times.” A few drinks in, people won’t be able to keep up with the changes. Just as they all get warmed up to the person speaking, you move onto someone new and they’re left to readjust all over again. Your part will just blend in with the crowd. You don’t want your best friend’s annoying college roommate to taint the entire speech because of how terrible her part is, or worse, dull the effect of your part. Step off, Emily, she’s been my best friend since KINDERGARTEN.
2. Don’t Make It Too Personal
It feels nice to give the bride/groom a speech that is very specific to them and include inside jokes that make you feel special, but when you’re speaking in front of a whole audience, you need to keep them in mind. Whoever’s listening wants to feel like they’re in on the joke too, or else they won’t think it’s funny. Avoid the “had to be there” stories and stick to making references about the bride/groom’s personality that everyone in the room will understand and identify with, because that will get a reaction from the most people. If the bride is notoriously obsessed with her dog, write about the time she brought Fluffy to brunch and you guys got kicked out because she peed on the floor. (The dog, not the bride.)
3. Don’t Be Too Self-Important
It obviously makes sense for you to introduce yourself when starting your speech, but people don’t need to know every detail about who you are, how you met the bride/groom, what you do for a living, how far you traveled to get there, and what you ate for dinner last night. Everyone’s there to celebrate the couple getting married, not the weirdo who cares way too much about everyone knowing exactly who she is. Chill, dude. I know you want every groomsman to know you’re single, but there’s this thing called introducing yourself (which you can do later). Get the speech moving and keep the focus on the people the wedding is actually for.
4. Tell That “One Great Story” You’ve Told A Thousand Times
Everyone thinks it’s better to be original than repeat a story you’ve already told, especially because people get called out for telling the same story over and over again and you want to do something unique for this special occasion, but there’s obviously a reason you associate this one story with the person so strongly and have continued to tell it time and time again. Since you already know it backwards and forwards, you are able to determine what parts work people think are funny and build on those instead of using material that may or may not land.
5. Don’t Use Generic Jokes You Found By Googling “Wedding Speech Jokes”
As Jared pointed out, everyone has heard the line “Thank you for making me your best man, I hope I can be the best man at your next wedding, too” before, Not only is it not funny, it’s sooo cringeworthy. Whoever thought joking about how long the relationship will last at a couple’s literal WEDDING was a good idea? Using that line is a good way to make everyone feel uncomfortable and judge you. Just don’t be that guy.
6. Bring It Back To The Couple
No matter what you say, you always want to find a way to tie it back to how perfect the bride and groom are for each other. However funny or incredible your speech is, it’s not going to hit home with everyone unless it somehow connects both people getting married. How great the couple is together is something that every wedding guest can get behind (at least I would hope). Save the love fest for just your best friend until her birthday, when you know everyone is there for her and only her.
7. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Even an impeccable speech has a time limit. Everyone can only pay attention for so long, and especially if there are more people up after you, you have to be quick. Get in, say what you gotta say, and then GTFO of there. Short didn’t become associated with sweet for nothing!
For more of Jared and Jordana’s expert opinions on how to give the best wedding speech, listen to U Up? below.
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