There aren’t many more things in life that strike fear into our hearts with such regularity than speaking in public. It’s just not everyone’s idea of a good time, and the fear is often heightened by the fact we need to talk about our feelings (ugh) in front of a room full of people.

Wedding speeches are a nerve-wracking part of the day for so many people, and it’s for those reasons that I totally understand why some folk dread that part of their wedding day. For some, it’s that one final hurdle of their wedding day they just need to get out of the way before they let their hair down and relax properly. And relax they do, usually with several pints of beer.

As you’d expect, We’ve witnessed many, many speeches at weddings over the years, ranging from pretty underwhelming to downright hilarious; several emotional rollercoasters and some that felt never-ending. With that in mind, we want to impart some of our experience on what works well, so you can be as knowledgeable as possible on the topic, before the inevitable *tap tap* on the mic gets even closer.

Without further ado, here’s our top tips for absolutely nailing your wedding speeches.

Before we start! If your reception venue doesn’t have a wedding coordinator or someone who will introduce proceedings, consider asking the Best Man or someone with a loud voice and some confidence to introduce the speakers. Make sure guests are back from the loo and everyone has a drink to toast with. In terms of who can give a speech, tradition dictates it’s the Father of the Bride, the Groom and the Best Man, but as we know that is old fart stuff, and the world has moved on since then. Anybody can give a speech.

When to do them? Before/After Dinner – Avoid During

Nowadays it’s perfectly acceptable to deliver the speeches at your wedding before the meal commences. If you’re one of our couples, you’ll be familiar with our advice that sometimes this is a good thing, particularly if your speakers are feeling really nervous about doing them. Too many times we’ve seen grooms not eat a scrap of their dinner because they’re worrying about their speech after the meal. Take the pressure off and do the speeches before dinner so everyone can relax and enjoy their meal, safe in the knowledge no more public speaking is required.

If you can, avoid doing your speeches during the meal, or during each course, as no-one wants to be photographed shovelling an asparagus wrapped in parma ham into their mouth! We’re not a fan of speeches during the meal as this is the prime time for us to capture you and your guests’ reactions, and if they’re concentrating on their food, we’re not going to come away with great results.

Sit or Stand Together During The Speeches

The photos of you and your new husband/wife will be immeasurably improved if you’re in close proximity to one another during every speech. It makes it easier for us to capture you both reacting to something at the same time – and those reactions are not always the same, so it makes for a fun image.

Don’t Wing It

“It’s OK, I give lots of talks at work, I’ll be fine” is the red flag phrase that makes our hearts sink. It doesn’t matter if you’re Boris Johnson – have something written down, prepared, and easy to read. Speeches at weddings are different to ones you give at work; they are on one of the most important occasions in people’s lives, you only have one shot, and they’re remembered forever. Most people will remember weddings they’ve been to with killer speeches, and similarly they easily recall the bad ones too. Don’t make a rookie error; take time before the day to prepare a written speech, broken into chunks, and printed out so you can easily decipher it when the big moment comes. You won’t know how you’ll feel until you’re actually doing your speech, and it’s easy to forget things and people in the heat of the moment, so give yourself the best possible chance of delivering an absolute winner by being prepared.

Keep It Clean!

An often overlooked element of a wedding speech: keeping it clean. We’re no prudes, but if there’s one thing that is bound to make people wince and you being cut out of your elderly relative’s will, is swearing unnecessarily in a speech.

Keep your speeches as clean as you can, remember there are children usually present.

Try to hit all the right notes

So you’ve prepared the speech, you’ve got your microphone, and the floor is yours. Everyone is looking to you to say all the right things to all the right people, being finely poised between charming, funny and sensitive all at the same time – hitting all the right notes. What a bloody minefield, eh?

We’re not about to tell you what needs addressing at every turn, but it’s customary for each speaker to cover some important topics. The happy couple (of course), the bridal party (or bridesmaids at least), parents, anyone who significantly helped with the wedding (whatever form that may take), and loved ones who are not able to be present on the day. Take the opportunity to thank people, and let them know the part they played in your happy day.

Practice Makes Perfect

Much like point the point we made earlier, don’t “wing it”, be sure to practice delivering your speech before the big event. If you’re not used to speaking in front of a lot of people, talk clearly and slowly – slower than usual. When we’re nervous we tend to jabber quickly, so slow your speech down if you think that sounds like you. Practice your speech to someone live before the day to get their take on it, and try to keep it under 10 minutes unless you want to be heckled by hangry guests.

You Will Be OK.

We know giving a talk in front of a lot of people is an intimidating prospect. But remember this: everyone is there in a positive capacity, and they’re all willing you on to do well. They’re supporting you. They want you to succeed. Don’t get yourself worked up into a frenzy about things, just do your best and everyone will enjoy your speech. Good luck!