Bride Speech Guide

Now it’s increasingly more common for the bride to say a few words, so be prepared and show your guests some appreciation.
Picture of Oliver Lucas

Oliver Lucas

Published 06 Sep 2023

Bride doing her speech with someone holding the microphone for her

Saying ‘I do’ used to be the limit of the bride’s official speaking role at weddings, now it’s increasingly common for her to have a much bigger say. And why not? Why shouldn’t a bride get to show guests her appreciation, thank the important people in her life and, crucially, have the chance to tell people about her gorgeous new hubby? And perhaps even poke a little affectionate fun at him? The answer is there is no good reason, but it does beg another question – how do I do all this with style?

That’s where SpeechMate is here to help. If you’re not sure where to start then we are – and can take you all the way to the finish. We’ll give you a brilliant bride speech that flows from the opening word, whether you want to pull at the heart strings, tickle the funny bone, or both. We will find out what makes the two of you tick – as individuals and a couple – and then create a speech that does the moment and your relationship justice.

A marriage will last for the rest of your life, every day is a new opportunity. But you only get one chance (and a matter of minutes) to publicly state what makes you love your husband, why you are perfect for each other and what your wedding day means to you. Let us help you make the most of it!

Wdding ceremony raising a toast

WHERE IT FITS

Traditionally, wedding speeches have run in the following order – father of the bride, groom, best man. So it’s likely you’ll be in the middle somewhere, but what is the purpose of a bride speech? What tone should it have? And what should be in it? Fathers (or mothers if we’re having female speakers) welcome guests and talk about you, reminisce about the past and look to the future. Best men talk about the groom, try and get laughs at his expense and maybe throw in a few matey compliments. Whereas the groom, again, talks about you, your relationship and offers a lot of thanks.

A bride’s speech – being a relatively new concept – gets a bit more of a blank canvas. You’ll probably want to combine plenty of elements from the above and that’s more than fine. It’s just a question of why you are speaking. Is it because you are the wittier, more eloquent or confident of the couple so better suited to public speaking? Will you each have a go? Or maybe it’s a joint speech (we have an additional separate guide for this).

Should you be the only one of the two speaking then you’ll have to cover some of what are traditionally the groom’s subject areas. But often, both spouses will speak and that’s when you do get more of a free rein. Obviously, much of what you say will be about the man in your life but he may well take care of thank yous on behalf of both of you. The key is to confer between you so you don’t double up  – either with the same words of appreciation or the same anecdote about the disastrous  first time he met your parents.

Unless of course your speech is being kept a surprise (from either hubby, guests or both), in which case it could be a real show-stopper but you’ll just have to hope you don’t repeat each other.

GETTING STARTED

Just like school essays the temptation with a speech is to dive straight in and write it. But just like your English coursework, this must be resisted as research comes first. Fortunately on this occasion you don’t have to read a whole Shakespeare play (although he may have some romantic words you can borrow), it’s a little more enjoyable than that.

Take a little trip down memory lane, possibly with a glass of red and an assistant friend, and make some notes. What memorable and special moments have you shared? Were there any dating disasters – or lame chat up lines -in the early days? What have got (and not got) in common? What makes your man unique and just right for you? There are 101 questions you can ask yourself, both poignant and light-hearted. Once you get going you’ll hopefully have enough notes that you can see the body of a speech in there and your first job is complete. All you have to do now is structure your many thoughts then write them into a winning speech.

WRITING

Now for the tricky part, taking all those memories, compliments and touching sentiments and expressing them together in a coherent, heartfelt speech with at least a dash of humour. Something that will live long in the memory for you, your husband and your guests.  At this point you have to be ruthless with your material. What do you absolutely want to include, what would you like to include but give less priority to and what, unfortunately, must be left on the cutting room floor?

One really useful thing to look for is a common theme. Of all the things you want to talk about, is there a thread between them that keeps reoccurring that can be used to weave everything together? Perhaps one of you is always late, the other excessively early. Is it a case of opposites attract? Alternatively do you and your husband have a particularly big thing in common, for instance the two of you could have met at work and therefore have very similar jobs. For two medics a speech that gives all parts of your relationship a diagnosis could work nicely. Which bits are in tip-top condition and which may need some minor surgery?

The key is to order each part within your structure so the theme develops and each bit is built on by the next. Don’t linger too long on any one specific subject, have things moving at a pace that keeps the audience engaged. And remember try to write as you would normally speak so when it comes to giving the speech it sounds like you. Keep in mind all the words and phrases that everyone who knows you will recognise as typical of you.

Something else to keep in mind is to be original. You are unique individuals with a unique relationship so don’t use jokes and clichés people will have heard before. Be you, that’s what people are here for and, for example, do not ever  say anything about even the cake being tiers. (It was once a great witticism – about 50 years ago – but is now very tired indeed). To an extent, the same can be said about the observations of love and marriage that have been heard many times. Not quite as groansome but still best avoided, or given a new twist to make them personal to you.

Remembering all this and still managing to formulate a winning speech from your many and varied ideas is the part many people can struggle with, whatever their role on the day. You want to say all the right things in the right way and it’s not always easy. If so we have got you covered.

DOS AND DON’TS

Some useful tips to bear in mind:

Do

Think before you write – there’s a whole heap of questions to ask yourself and jot down the answers to generate material. For eg what things do you (and do you not) have in common.

Thank your in-laws – they have hopefully welcomed you into their family and are going to be a big part of your life.

Find a theme – what thread can run through your speech to link it all together and make one bit flow into the next.

Illustrate your point – don’t just tell everyone you have an amazing husband, explain why with some real life examples.

Prepare – lots and lots (and lots) of practice once you have your speech written.

Don’ts

Use clichés – you have a unique relationship so use your own words to describe it not other people’s oft heard ones.

Go overboard on detail – stories and anecdotes can bring a speech to life but move them along quickly to the punchline.

Thank the world – all speakers will have a go at showing appreciation, you should too but an endless list will lose your audience.

Repeat the groom – if you are both speaking confer to ensure no doubling up of content.

Get too tipsy as cure for those nerves – stick to one or two, cut loose after the speech if you wish though!

LENGTH

Many people go with the ‘always leave them wanting more’ maxim and so strictly recommend wedding speeches are no shorter than six minutes, no longer than 10. We think this is the wrong way to look at it. Should the caterers leave people wanting more? No, your guests would be hungry. What about the bar staff. Again no, watching people dance later wouldn’t be as funny. So why should you leave anyone wanting more?

We think the key consideration is how much good quality material you have. If – but only if – the answer is plenty then let that dictate quantity. Within reason. What guests will want is to be moved, amused and entertained so if you can do at least some of the above then everyone will be more than happy with 11 or 12 minutes, or even slightly longer.

However, should both you and hubby be speaking, whether your speeches are separate or joint, then you may have to rein yourself in a little. Double the speakers doesn’t mean double the length and if you were to do this you may end up repeating each other anyway. We cover joint speeches in more depth elsewhere but between 15 to 16 minutes would be about the limit.

DELIVERY

You have your speech and you like it, a lot. But now you have to actually deliver it. If you are nervous at this point that really is fine, we suspect even someone with the misplaced confidence of a Donald Trump can get a few jitters with public speaking. Just remember that today you have the most goodwill from the audience any speaker could ever have. Everyone wants you to shine, it’s your day so guests are firmly on your side.

However, speaking in front of large groups takes some getting used to so the most important (by far) thing you can do to ease those nerves is get in a lot of previous practice. Initially this can be reading it aloud on your own to get a feel for how it sounds. When you are a little more familiar with the speech deliver it in front of a trusted friend or family member to a) get their thoughts and b) have some sort of audience. Come the big day the more familiar you are with the speech the more it will feel like second nature delivering it to a crowd.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a copy of your speech to hand on the day or some cue cards. These provide extra security because you’ll know if you do lose your way there is help to get going again. But, the trick is not to sound like you are reading. Think of the free-flowing way you talk to your friends in a bar, when you’re comfortable and confident. Your personality and warmth come across without thinking, if possible that’s the delivery you are going for.

A few more handy hints are to have some water nearby to sip in case you get an attack of the dry throats and a quick go with the mic beforehand to assess where it needs to be held (the balance between too loud and too quiet). Lastly – and this is vital – a couple of drinks to take the edge off nerves is fine, but no more. Drunk speakers do not usually give their best!