The glass has been broken, the challah’s been cut and the drinks have been poured. The guests are all mingling and settling into their chairs where they’ll soon decide between chicken or fish while enjoying the evening and all of its events. Yes, the wedding you’re attending is well underway and as an honorary guest (be it mother of the bride, best man or even the funniest family friend) there’s one thing left to do: deliver a speech that evokes as much out of the crowd as the happy couple’s vows.
So what, exactly, makes a great wedding speech and what should it actually include? Well, for anyone that’s ever been to a wedding, there’s a few suggestions we’re sure work for all. First, mind the time: know your audience and keep in mind that your speech is likely one of many being delivered tonight. Experts and attendees agree, the sweet spot for wedding speeches falls anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes. 10 gets long and 3 feels like a punchline but 4 to 8 feels great.
As for what goes into a speech, well, we made it easy for you. A good speech should be 5 things: Heartfelt, Humorous, Historical, Helpful and Hopeful. Follow our suggestions and you’re sure to be the star of the night (well, aside from the bride and groom).
HEARTFELT: This is your chance to tell the newlyweds, their families and a room full of 150 guests what this relationship means to you. Are they the couple that can get through anything? Are they the perfect parents in training? Are they the ones who you can count on most? Be authentic and sincere and share with the couple the things you appreciate most about them and their relationship. This is your chance to share with them the details you take note of, the moments you’ll always remember and the fond feelings you have toward both of them.
HUMOROUS: Humor goes a long way and it’s almost essential for any wedding speech but finding the right balance is important. You don’t want to necessarily roast the couple (most of the time) but you don’t want your speech to be too sappy or serious. Try to sprinkle in a joke into every third sentence. It can be a gentle dig, a quippy pun or an observation you have about either one of the newlyweds or both but again be sure to toe the line between funny and embarrassing. Don’t bring up too many alcohol references, keep the exes out of the jokes and be mindful of anything the couple might be insecure about. Keep it light and fun!
HISTORICAL: Everyone listening to your speech will, at one point or another, ask themselves the same question: how do these folks know each other? That’s why it’s important to cover (albeit briefly) the history you have with the couple. In 2-3 sentences, tell the audience how you know the couple, how you met and contextualize it all with a timeline. This gives your speech depth and gives you a bit of ownership over your position at the wedding. Again, you don’t want to bring out the textbook here but giving the audience a few lines on how you know the couple and how far back you all go is an essential part of any wedding speech!
HELPFUL: Being asked to deliver a speech at a wedding is an honor and generally means that you are someone of great importance to the couple. With great importance, of course, comes a bit of responsibility, which means the couple, at some point, may look to you for advice. In your speech, it’s always a good idea to throw in some insight. Tell the couple what you’ve learned about love and life. Feel free to share your own experiences and beyond that, let them know you’ll be there for them to offer help should they ever need it. This part of the speech is essentially your vow to them as a couple.
HOPEFUL: Two people joining together to celebrate their love in an often precarious world is the greatest manifestation of hope one could yearn for. Love is something to be celebrated and it’s important that you acknowledge this in your speech. Tell the couple how they inspire you and offer hope to others who may be skeptical about love (not saying this is you). This is your chance to cheer them on and bless their union as they move forward with new adventures in their lives together.
And of course, close out with a big “Mazel Tov!” Hopefully these guidelines help you structure out your speech and bring the room to a state of tears, joy and applause.
A speech is just one way to tell the Newlyweds (or Jewlyweds) how you feel. If you are looking for the perfect wedding card to add humor, Jewish tradition, and love, check out Menschions unique wedding cards before your next event!
Here's a picture of Rebecca and Sean making a speech at their best friends wedding!