How to nail your bride speech
Like a free bar stocked with craft beers and Bollinger, giving a bride speech is a sure-fire way of impressing, not only your guests, but your husband too. It’s not about etiquette books, a long list of thank yous or ‘his job’ anymore, it’s about dropping a love-bomb on the party and kick-starting your marriage with a bang.
This is your chance to thank your friends and family and make them feel loved. It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shout about what a sublime example of gorgeousness you’ve married without being considered a little bit smug.
As ex BBC scriptwriters, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to nailing your bride speech.
If you’re wanting a bit more hand-holding, check out our amazing bride speech template or find out how you can commission a TV scriptwriter to craft your wedding speech.
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Why a bride speech rocks
The arguments for not sitting back and letting a line-up of three men hog the wedding mic are well-rehearsed, but choosing to give a bride speech ain’t really about feminism. It’s just about adding something special to the day.
- It’s a proper thank you – Thank you cards are nice, but they won’t leave your favourite people with the nice warm glow that a great speech does.
- Guests love it – They want to hear your side of the love story.
- Your husband will love it – We’ve yet to meet a groom who didn’t blooming LOVE his Mrs giving a speech. Surely he deserves a few compliments thrown his way?
- You’ll love it – The blokes won’t admit this but giving a speech is fun. You’re surrounded by people you love (and OK, a few random children you couldn’t shake off the invite list) and everyone is rooting for you. It’ll become one of your wedding day highlights -totally out-ranking those ‘I dos’.
Bride Speech - Surprise or Scheduled?
The first thing to think about is whether you want to surprise your groom or schedule your speech into the day.
The surprise speech is always nice but get a sense of the groom’s thank yous so that you don’t needlessly echo each other. Also keep an eye on your duration. If there’s no check on the length of the groom speech, you need to keep yours relatively concise.
If the groom knows you’re giving a speech, you can divvy out the thank yous (and check that you aren’t repeating the classic stories). Sure, you’ll each want to thank both sets of parents but only one of you gets to tell the story where you got locked in the pub. You can also agree to contain both speeches to about six minutes.
If there’s going to be more than three speeches, schedule them so you avoid a speech-clump. Perhaps have one between each course of the meal, or have the traditional male line up after the main meal and the surprise bride speech after the dessert (NB: you’ll get more laughs once everyone’s had their Champagne!)
Bride Speech Etiquette
A bride speech is the Burger King of speeches – you get to say what you want, how you want.
But (massive klaxon warning!) make sure you’re not left with the ‘scraps of speeches’. Check out Confetti’s Guide to Etiquette to get a sense of who’s doing what so you don’t find yourself repeating the same thank yous as your husband and mumbling ‘again’ far too often. Stake your claim on the good stuff (or, if your speech is a surprise, avoid the content that’s already been covered and get inventive)!
Remember, the main role of your speech is to
- make all the guests feel welcome
- give your personal thanks to the important people
- make your man feel properly loved
People to consider thanking (depending on the groom’s speech)
- your parents
- your in-laws
- the best man & ushers
- your maid of honour & bridesmaids
- any children you and/or your groom already have
Of course there may be others you want to mention but resist the urge to read out half the guest list. Nothing kills off a speech quicker than a tedious thank you list.
If you’re planning on giving thank you gifts to any of the wedding party, we recommend saying you’ll be ‘personally handing them out later’ so it doesn’t disrupt the flow of your speech and the guests aren’t tempted to start checking their whatsapp messages.
The Classic Bride Trap
We cannot stress this strongly enough…. A bride’s speech should not be more romantic or less humorous than the groom’s.
If you’re the naturally soppy sort, you might be hoping your bride’s speech is an opportunity to get get all dewy eyed and leave singletons weeping at the glory of the love you have found. It’s not.
OTT declarations of love can still be cringey even in a wedding context. If you can’t imagine reading your speech to your mates down the pub without them wanting to throw things at you, you’ve probably pitched it wrong.
Yes, you can be sweet, you can be loving, you can even cry with happiness – just make sure you’re funny and self-depreciating too.
The 5 rules to writing a great bride’s speech
Rule 1 Get Real
A heart-warming tribute to your groom should be the focus of your bride speech but remember every bride thinks her husband is gorgeous, kind and generally amaaaazing. The only way for this to sound genuine is – prove, don’t tell. Recount the anecdotes that show your bloke’s qualities in action.
Cut the cliches & concentrate on what makes your man unique. Avoid words like ‘soulmate’ or ‘beautiful’, anything that’s overused. Is he a library-lover, a technology fiend, a devoted foodie? Nailing his individual and quirky characteristics shows you ‘get him’ and his friends & family will love you for it.
Rule 2 Be Funny
All speeches should be funny. Yes you want to be sweet about your groom and kind to your guests but make them laugh too. No one’s expecting a stand up routine but if you manage to get everyone giggling within the first 30 secs, then you’re on to a winner.
Of course, being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet – it’s about making witty observations about your groom and your relationship. Remember the adage ‘it’s funny because it’s true’. Ask yourself lots of questions. What have you done together, what do you regularly ‘debate’, what seems to be a regular theme in your relationship? See what you can have fun with.
Rule 3 Tell a story
Right this is the important bit. Your speech should tell a story. Yes it’s made up of lots of different elements but it needs to hook people in from the beginning, establish a theme and carry that through to an almighty climax.
One basic example might be a teacher who talks about the lessons her husband has taught her – the good, the bad and the ability to now shout a range of football chants. Another theme might be the bride’s interpretation of her marriage vows (e.g. man flu doesn’t count as ‘sickness’). Creating a theme ensures the speech is easy to follow and entertaining. Find out #whatsyourstory
Rule 4 Less in More
If you and your groom are both giving speeches you should both aim for about six minutes. It doesn’t sound long but it’s plenty of time to be both funny and sincere. You might feel you have plenty to say but be strict with yourself. Remember a long thank you list turns a good speech bad.
Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. We promise it will make it a hundred times stronger. No one ever watched a wedding speech and thought ‘if only it was longer’. The edit-process might mean cutting some of your favourite bits, but you need to wipe out the waffle!
Rule 5 Prepare to Deliver
A confident delivery is half the battle. Check the acoustics of the venue & get a mic if necessary (so many speeches are ruined simply because the guests can’t hear them). Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled). Talk slower than feel natural (makes you sound more confident) & leave pauses for laughter (sometimes people need a moment to ‘get it’).
Remember everyone wants you to do well so make sure you smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious and those scientists know stuff.
Bride Speech - Do's and Don'ts
Keep it a secret – it’s more fun that way
Make the thanks yous meaningful – Don’t just talk about what people have contributed to the wedding, thank them for what they’ve contributed to your life (even if it is just an appreciation on malt whiskeys). Keep each thank you less than 50 words.
Toast something meaningful -ideally something that will make your husband and guests smile – maybe ‘a lifetime of dancing on tables’
Practise your speech and film it on your phone – Watch it back and spot where your speech can be improved.
Thank the caterers or the venue – It’s unnecessary.
‘Explain’ why you’re giving a bride speech – Yes, you might always have the last word, but these days a bride speech doesn’t need any justification.
Show off – Yes, it’s your special day. But no, you’re not allowed to show off about it. Be conscious there’s single girls out there. Be self-depreciating & be humble. Don’t do a Paltrow. Instead, channel Jennifer Aniston and be the rocking hot girl who everyone still likes.
Be afraid to use cue cards – Try to memorise the speech but dont be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled).
A Bit About Speechy
Speechy is an elite team of wordsmiths and includes Heidi, Roger, Claire and James. Between us, we’ve been included in the Edinburgh TV Festival’s ‘Ones to Watch’ and featured in the BBC Hotlist.
During our telly careers, we’ve worked with people such as Christine Bleakley, Richard Hammond, Sharon Osbourne, Dan Snow, David Mitchell and Mel Geidroyc. Get us!
Of course, our favourite thing is helping people write amazing speeches and we still get excited when brides tell us we’ve added a special moment to their day.
Your Bride Speech - How We Can Help
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Bride Speech - It Gets People Talking
Grazia’s Rhiannon Evans explains why she HAD to give a bride’s speech and the uber-cool Kat Williams of Rock n Roll Bride explains why she’d choose to give a bride speech now (‘Having An Alternative Wedding Is Now A Trend’).