Groom for Groom

At same sex unions, do you follow relieve yourself from the shackles of traditions or follow the usual conventions…
Picture of Oliver Lucas

Oliver Lucas

Published 07 Sep 2023

2 gay grooms sat on the stairs one in a pink suit the other is a sky blue suit cuddling

The very nature of a recognised same-sex union may relieve you of some of the shackles of tradition – make the most of that, or follow the usual conventions: it’s up to you.

It’s basically about reading the room, and, as you will have invited your guests with your husband, you’ll know whether you want to go for outlandish or ‘safe’.

The first time I wrote a speech for a gay wedding, I was a last-minute best man replacement for a colleague I didn’t actually know terribly well. I committed the cardinal sin of not discussing tone with the happy couple and was overexcited, supposing that everything would be feather boas and innuendo. How wrong that was! Elderly relatives and a very dry family did not respond well and I was too nervous to ad lib, so I croaked my way through a slew of double entendres and ham-fisted gags as the tumbleweed passed.

“Nevermind,” is not what you want to hear after you’ve delivered a speech. Make sure you learn from my mistake!

Fast forward 20 years (and countless speeches later) to my own wedding, and my Groom’s Speech. I knew everyone wanted and expected outrageous humour, with no squeamish relatives to consider. My husband didn’t want to speak so it was all down to me, and we had a blast with it.

groom dressed as a bride with flower tiara and blonde wig

NUTS & BOLTS 

  • You would normally be the second to speak, after the father/mother of your spouse, and followed by the best man/woman and then. However, there’s a lot of room to play here in gay weddings.

Think about: Will it just be you, or will your husband want to speak as well? Do you want to do individual speeches, or perhaps a joint effort? Are you going to have one best man/woman or two? …same with parents. You may wish to rearrange the order, and maybe even have a break, if there are more speeches that usual. It may also mean you wish to scale back on times.

  • Your basic duties are to thank people and pay tribute to your partner.

Think about: Dividing thanks, if doubling with your husband. Without giving your game away, at least make sure you’re not covering the same ground.

  • Those to remember specifically could include the guests (including absent friends), best man, bridesmaids (or groomsmaids) and ushers, any children involved, the parents and, of course, your husband, for saying yes and being the wonderful human being he is!

 

Think about: Long-distance travellers may deserve a mention, or others who have played a special role in your lives, but please don’t thank the paid help. Long lists are a turn off.

DOs & DON’Ts

Do:

  • Get friends and family to chip in with ideas and stories, if you are struggling.
  • Give your speech an organic flow, by linking themes (characteristics, obsessions) by a timeline or under categories. The idea is to thread together all those random anecdotes and happenings with some kind of shape and direction.
  • Rehearse and distil to prompt cards – or print the speech in large font (in which case you should rest it on the table, as nerves may make you tremble a little).
  • Check how to correctly pronounce names of friends unable to make it – you really don’t want to fluff a late relative.
  • Use props, if you are comfortable. Posters from embarrassing pics or outfits from the dressing up box can add a new dimension to a tale.
  • Critically, keep practising until you feel at one with the material and are able to deliver effectively keeping eye-contact. You need to remember the pauses, the build-up, the punchlines. Get yourself a sympathetic audience of one, and keep at it!


Don’t:

  • Thank the entire population. It may be the closest you ever get to the Oscars, but long lists bore everyone.
  • Try to cram in every last story you can think of. You have a limited time and will need to sort the wheat from the chaff ruthlessly.
  • Focus on yourself – the next speaker will do that.
  • Push your emotional buttons. You are likely to be a tad highly strung on the day, and too much sentimentality could easily lead to tears – especially if nodding to those who are not with us any longer. Do not eulogise and, should a serious point be made, try to make sure a cheerier one immediately proceeds it to lift the mood.
  • Mention dubious details about former partners etc that led to you getting together – there may be mutual friends, raw memories.
  • Use material you have found on the web, other than, perhaps, a single quote. Someone will have seen it and you’ll look very dull.
  • Include something you have questioned yourself about. If you were unsure, there’s usually a good reason.
  • Steady nerves with overuse of substances.


*
Top tip here: a couple of drinks for Dutch Courage is fine, but much more risks you slurring your words, losing your place and going over the top in your one moment to shine.

STRUCTURE 

You might be a creative or a maverick and there’s no reason you can’t ‘shake it up’ but the usual  speech design does its job well. Six to 12 minutes is optimum, so you there is not a lot of time for dead air and good editing will be crucial.

First married hello:

“My husband and I…” is something of a must and a guaranteed crowd pleaser

Umbrella Welcome:

Your family, friends, weather, venue and so on.

Thanksgiving:

Travelling friends

Anyone who’s gone the extra mile to be with you could be worthy of a shout out – but there is a line! Take four, maximum. Perhaps comparing them with a guest who lives down the road could get a smile – similarly comparing someone’s glamorous home to a, perhaps less exotic venue.

Absentees

Big names who can’t attend through circumstance, infirmity or death – not everyone who replied ‘with regret’. Revise the list with your fiancé, and don’t hang around on this, as it’s an easy road to shedding a tear – so no prolonged details. Breathe and move on to brighter things.

Brides(grooms)maids

Always beautiful and always performing their duties with aplomb. Individual names need not be listed, depending on your preference.

Pageboys/flower girls

As above, but probably best change to smart and charming/elegant and pretty.

Ushers

Frequently a chance to take an affectionate dig and your chums.

Best Man/Woman

Again, we’re often a touch more tongue-in-cheek here, but spend a little longer honouring your partner in crime – no life stories though, and end kindly.

Helpers in general

Time is short, so don’t thank paid help or list everyone who moved a table. There could be exceptions like an aunt who made the cake, for example. To cover those not specifically mentioned, this is perfectly acceptable: ‘and everyone else who helped make this day what it is’.

In-laws

They raised and had a hand in shaping the man you love. They’ve also welcomed you into their family. Anxious first meetings and subsequent progression is a good starter here.

Mum & Dad

They helped keep you alive up to now and it probably wasn’t always easy. Never a better time to publicly acknowledge their hard work, love and support.

Kids

Remind the children in your life (be they yours, his or joint), of what an important past they play in your combined lives.

Your husband:

The bit everyone’s waiting for. You can be funny, soppy or a little from Column A and a little from Column B. Explain to your guests how and why you fell in love and how he has improved your life and yourself. Think about the incredible qualities he has that make you respect and love him. Also, how thrilled you are to be facing the world as a married couple from today onwards.

TIMINGS

  • 6 – 12 minutes. No longer. As they say on the stage: ‘always leave them wanting more’.
  • It’s like to be a little longer with ad libs, laughter, participation.
  • Be clear. Public speaking speed should be 2/3 normal. This is better for clarity and also gives you time to refer to any notes as you go.
  • Pace is just as important as general length. Which tales take a little longer to tell – can they be sandwiched between two snappier ones? Where can you shave some detail for the sake of comic timing. This is a difficult job but you only have so much time and cannot include every story or every detail, which leads us to…editing.
  • Ruthless editing is essential for timing, impact and enhancing the flow of your speech; building on themes, circular devices, establishing a thread that takes you through the anecdotal gold you have mined. We return to linked ideas, springboard into new themes, provide relief after longer sections and so on. As the speech begins to take shape, you will probably find, as you remember more stories, that it gets to a stage of one in, one out, tweaking the script to weave in additions where they are best suited in terms of theme or chronology.

TONE 

You have invited your guests and you know your crowd. Perhaps it’s a family event including elderly relatives you don’t want to offend, or maybe it’s a room full of people expecting Graham Norton. But your speech needs to be in your voice and fit the audience. One effective solution is two-tiered jokes, appealing on two levels. It’s usually the case that swearing and graphic references make people awkward, regardless.

There is also space for sentiment in your speech – it’s not all about the laughs. But to try to steer clear of anything that is too likely to get you choked up.

Obviously, your speechwriter will be on hand to help edit wording until you are happy.

DELIVERY

So, we have collaborated to craft you an ovation-earning speech and you are happy with what you have in front of you. But you aren’t entirely confident about how the punchlines are stressed and you are far from experienced in public-speaking. Practice makes perfect and we can run over it with coaching on speed of delivery, projection, and how to stress the humour and leave the pauses for a laugh, or a moment of serious impact every time. Also, we can help ensure you are comfortable with how to make the touching parts resound and how best to combine the different elements. You are unlikely to ever find such willing listeners ever again, so you need not be too nervous – but stage fright is always an issue. Jittery speakers often talk to quickly and anxious folk frequently turn to booze ease their troubled minds! Neither helps with coherency!

You should be less nervy if you have rehearsed again and again (and maybe softened the edges with a sherry or two 😉).

SO:

  • Don’t get sozzled and slurry
  • Use bullet points on cards to remind you
  • Slow down your speaking speed by 30 per cent
  • Your feet should be a shoulder’s width apart
  • If not using a microphone, project your voice from the diaphragm
  • If using a mic, remember not to put it right to your mouth. Trial and error!
  • Revise your material repeatedly, hopefully with a sympathetic audience (not your fiancé!). Recognise the rollercoaster stages of delivery: pauses, punchlines, sarcastic or sincere.

 

  • GOLDEN RULE: PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

GOING BLANK 

  • The best way of getting rid of those butterflies is to hold your nose and jump! They disappear quickly and, anyway, it’ll all be done soon!
  • If you lose your place, breathe and refer to your notes. Find where you were and begin again. It’s extremely unlikely anyone else will have noticed.
  • Stay grounded by glancing at your cards frequently – best accomplished during laughter after a joke.
  • Have a glass of something near you (water best) to avoid dry throat. Small sips, not glugs. Again, best post-funny.
  • Distractions are unavoidable, be it a friendly heckle or a broken glass. Nothing wrong with saying ‘damn! Lost my place now! Give me a sec…’
  • Keep in mind that everyone here is rooting for you and you can only do your best. They are all there for you.

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Bride and groom just got married and kissing surrounded by friends