Nail your wedding speech
The first thing to say is there’s nothing intrinsically special about giving a gay groom speech. The same rules apply. Of course, your speech has one advantage over most other groom speeches – you’re marrying a bloke which means it’s already a bit different. Let’s drink to that.
By following a few key pieces of advice from the Speechy scriptwriters (BBC trained, celebrity schmoozers and wedding speech revolutionists) your speech is guaranteed to become a little less ordinary. We’re on a mission to rid weddings of boring, cliched and meaningless speeches. Follow our etiquette, writing and delivery advice and discover #whatsyourstory.*
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Who's Doing What?
The first thing to think about is how you and your groom are going to divide speech duty. It might just be one of you addressing your guests (though it seems like a missed opportunity) or you could both give a speech. The other option is giving a joint speech (we LOVE em!) and you can find out more about Mr & Mr speeches here.
Let’s assume you’re both delivering speeches, you’ll need to ensure you’re not doubling up on the thanks or the stories. Sure, you’ll each want to thank both sets of parents (and score brownie points with the in-laws) but only one of you gets to tell the story where you got locked in the pub.
You also need to think about how you’re scheduling the speeches – if you have more than three you might want to think about having one after each course of the wedding dinner or even saving one till the evening do (though that’s a risky strategy if there’s a free bar).
Gay wedding speech etiquette
Let’s get this out of the way first. Don’t get tied down with traditional etiquette. A lot of it is outdated and well, just not fit for a modern wedding.
Tailor your style to fit in to the scene you’ve set. Have you invited a lot of older relatives who expect a certain level of decorum or just a dozen of your Pacha amigos who expect Jagger Bombs on tap? Maybe you’ve splashed out on a stately manor or gone urban in the Gherkin (see Attitude’s great alternative wedding guide if you’re interested in that one) – just make sure your words reflect the wedding you’ve created.
The thank yous are, of course, important and can ensure a lifetime of love from the in-laws (or alternatively, years of deep & brooding resentment). The groom traditionally thanks…
- everyone for coming
- his parents
- the in-laws
- his best man or woman & ushers / bridesmaids
Of course there may be others you want to mention (children from previous relationships?) but resist the urge to read out half the guest list. Nothing kills off a speech quicker than a tedious thank you list.
Admittedly, thank yous have become more complicated in recent years with parents often separated and with new partners. If this is the case, simply thank parents separately and be careful to honour them both appropriately. Depending on the politics we’d also recommend acknowledging their new partner if they’re attending the wedding.
The groom traditionally ends his speech with a toast to the bridesmaids but we think this is a missed opportunity (and you might not have any anyway). Toast something meaningful to you and your groom; something that will get everyone smiling. It could simply be a toast to a ‘ a lifetime of dancing on tables’.
The 5 rules to writing a great wedding speech
Rule 1 Be Different
A heart-warming tribute to your fella should be the focus of your speech but remember every groom is handsome, kind and generally amaaazing. Cut the cliches and concentrate on what makes your man unique. Avoid words like ‘soulmate’ or ‘beautiful’, anything that’s overused. Nail his individual and quirky characteristics. Is he a library-lover, a technology fiend, a total foodie? Is he ‘Canal Street’s answer to Jeremy Paxman’ or ‘the only man to still smell lovely after four days at Glastonbury’?
Rule 2 Be Funny
Yes the expectation may be on the best man but all wedding speeches should make people laugh. Of course, being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet (if only it was that easy) but rather making witty observations about your relationship.
Conduct a courtship-autopsy; what have you done together, what have you argued about, 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 was a groom who considered himself lucky; he talked about the quirks of fate that got him to the alter and ended his speech by toasting a ‘lifetime of luck and love’ before encouraging his guests to look under their napkins where he’d left them all a scratch card.
Rule 4 Less in More
You’re aiming for about eight to ten minutes (ten allowing for laughter and ad libs). Remember no one ever listened to a wedding speech and said ‘if only it was longer’. Even if you think you have a wealth of material, be strict with yourself and practise how long it takes you to deliver your speech. Even Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 272 words so there’s really no excuse for an overly long speech. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. It will make it better.
Rule 5 Don't 'Say You're Gay'
It’s blooming obvious, we all know it’s a gay wedding – there’s no poor woman dressed as a meringue! Don’t feel you need to make jokes about two grooms, that would be catering to an old-school audience and the joke’s too obvious anyway.
Definitely don’t go political, your sexuality does not grant you the right to be pompous or preachy. Everyone just wants to know why you two love each other so keep it simple, sincere and sweet.
Gay Wedding Speech - Do's and Don'ts
Start writing your speech – Obvious but honestly, ideas will keep popping into your head once you kick off.
Check with your man– Make sure you’re not doubling up if you’re both giving speeches. Who thanks who? Who gets to tell the funniest story?
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
Keep the thank yous concise – no one deserves more attention than your husband
Practise your speech and film it on your phone – Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your paunch and spot where your speech can be improved.
Use witty wedding quotes – Plagiarism ain’t cool but using quotes is a great way to super-charge your speech with romance or humour. Get inspired by our Quote Guide. Or quote the lyrics from your favourite tune (NME’s First Dance Guide or Gay UK’s Music Inspo)
Thank the caterers or the venue – It’s unnecessary.
Resort to cliches – Yes you can thank your in-laws for ‘raising such a wonderful son’ but try to make it personal too. Thank your mother in law for the extra inch added to your waistline since you first sampled her Yorkshire Puddings.
Ignore the feedback of friends – It’s always worth testing your speech out on a mate but this also means you have to listen to them. If someone doesn’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.
Talk over laughter – You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until your guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.
Get overly soppy – Get the balance right between sweet and just showing off. Leave the pet names at home and keep anything overly gushing for the bedroom.
A Bit About Speechy...
The Speechy team includes James, Heidi, Roger and Claire. 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 Richard Hammond, Sharon Osbourne, Dan Snow, David Mitchell and Mel Geidroyc. Get us!
Of course, we love helping people write amazing speeches and we still get excited when they tell us we’ve added a special moment to their day.