Speeches: The Big Three
Traditionally, there are three speeches, delivered in a specific order with certain formalities:
- Father of the bride/ godfather/ family friend.
- The groom.
- The best man.
Father of the Bride (or alternative)
This role can be filled by whoever gave the bride away, be it a brother, godfather or uncle – or indeed the roles may be divided between more than one person. He thanks the guests for coming and those involved with organising and paying for the wedding (no reference to money should ever be made). He may then indulge in some affectionate anecdotes about the bride, and pay tribute to her achievements, before welcoming the groom into the family. He finishes with a toast to ‘the bride and groom’.
First the groom must thank the father of the bride (or equivalent) on behalf of himself and his new wife for the speech – the reference to his ‘wife’ usually raises a cheer from the crowd.
He must then thank the guests for coming, the bride’s parents (if they are hosting the wedding), his parents for raising him and the best man for supporting him. He can also present both mothers (if applicable) with bouquets. He then says a few words about his beautiful new wife. The groom should finish his speech with a toast to ‘the bridesmaids’.
The Best Man
The best man’s speech is expected to be the highlight of the proceedings, a witty and entertaining account of the groom, and a sincere reflection on their friendship. He should begin by reading out messages – originally telegrams and letters, nowadays usually emails, text messages and letters – from friends and relatives who couldn’t attend.
He then tells a selection of stories and anecdotes about the groom, and may wish to mention his achievements to date. He is expected to reveal something light-hearted and fun that will embarrass the groom. The speech should also include some stories about the couple, how they met, their relationship and a few compliments for the bride.
The best man’s speech should be amusing rather than shocking and must appeal to all generations. The tone should be witty, never smutty.
He finishes with a toast to ‘Mr and Mrs [newly-weds’ surname]’. He will then announce the cutting of the cake, if applicable.