If your grandparents or even parents tied the knot, they probably didn’t give a thank-you speech at their wedding.
It’s a fairly new tradition, but one that is certainly popular now. And why not? Your guests have taken time out of their day, or weekend, to come and celebrate your nuptials with you – the least you could do is say thank you!
Showing a little appreciation on your wedding day is key to making your entire wedding party feel happy, and part of a loving atmosphere.
But how do you deliver a wedding thank-you speech? What should be included in your toast? What if you’re not good at public speaking?
Today, we’re going to answer all of these things, and provide you with some wedding speech tips that’ll help you nail your moment in the reception spotlight.
Wedding Thank-you Speech Tips
Wedding speeches can be intimidating, especially if you’re not used to speaking in public. Here are some tips that’ll hopefully help you deliver a memorable toast, for all the right reasons!
Keep it Brief
Your thank-you speech will likely be the last of the toasts at your wedding reception.
So by this point, your loved ones have already sat through (and loved) speeches from your parents, possibly your partner, the bridal party, and the best man. Plus anyone else who felt like they wanted to share a few words.
This may mean their patience is slipping, and their bellies are rumbling.
Keep your speech short, and you’ll find your guests are much more receptive.
Practice Makes Perfect
Delivering a speech at a wedding is a meaningful event and emotional occasion. And because it is so emotive, it pays to practice your thank-yous ahead of time.
Deciding to go off-the-cuff, or to write your speech on a beer mat five minutes before, is a definite no-no if you want to guarantee the perfect wedding speech.
Spend time noting down everyone you would like to thank. Bullet point moments in the anecdotes you wish to give, and practice saying everything out loud, multiple times, in the mirror before the big day.
Show How Much this Means to You
As we said, this is a highly emotional event, and it’s ok to share just how you feel. Speak from the heart, connect with your audience and deliver a speech that feels less like a Ted talk, and more like a heart-to-heart.
Add Some Humor
Every speech needs some light and shade, otherwise, things can end up feeling a little dark. By adding a little humor to your wedding speech, it’ll quickly lift the mood in the room.
Be it a carefully crafted one-liner, a well-rehearsed personal anecdote, or a peppering of funny comments, a little laughter is always appreciated.
Just remember this is not your Netflix special, don’t overdo the jokes.
Keep the Drinking to a Minimum
We know it’s hard on your wedding day to hold back on the booze, but when it comes to your thank-you speech, you’ll be glad you did.
No wedding guest wants to hear a slurred, possibly sweary toast on the big day. It may seem hilarious in a rom-com, but in real life, you’re just going to get daggers from your closest family members!
Leave the tequila shots until later, and instead enjoy a glass of champagne or two before you deliver your speech.
Take Your Time
Practicing your thank-you speech before the wedding will help you work out where the breathing spaces are.
Small gaps will keep your toast feeling natural, allow for laughs, and stop it from feeling like it’s being read out by a nervous junior high student.
What Should Be Included in Your Wedding Thank-you Speech?
Give your speech an outline before you even start taking notes, and you’ll find everything comes together a lot easier.
A Welcoming Introduction
Any good thank-you speech should start with a welcome message and heartfelt thanks to everyone for being part of such a joyous occasion.
Be honest, show your gratitude and remind everyone why they traveled halfway across the country to be at your wedding!
This part should feel fairly informal, and warm. So don’t stress too much about practicing this part.
Address the Occasion & the Support You’ve Felt
This is the best day of your life, a dream wedding. But that would not be the case, were it not for the awesome wedding party sitting in front of you!
This perfect wedding is because of your loved ones, and the support all of them have given you up to this point.
Mention Some Special People
Your companion for life is of course at the very center of this celebration. But orbiting them are some truly wonderful people.
And we’re not talking wedding vendors! We mean your favorite people, those loved ones who didn’t just help arrange this special day, they impacted your life leading up to it.
Depending on your family dynamics, and those of your partner, credit the ones who truly made a difference. Not just financially, but emotionally. And then that closest friend, or childhood friends, who you couldn’t imagine celebrating your big day without.
This is your moment to add in some funny stories about your beloved parents, or friends, and help show their human, or humble side.
More Thanks, Advice & Maybe a Bit of Logistics
Towards the end of your speech, it’s good to say thanks again, while also passing on some wise words from your wedding planner.
Perhaps a reminder of timings at the bar, how to request songs from the DJ, or just generally where everything is.
Logistical stuff that will help things run a little smoother, and get guests excited about what’s to come!
Sign off with a Toast
Much like the intro, your outro should be nice and simple. Perhaps something as streamlined as – Thank you, enjoy your night, and cheers from (insert new name here!)
What to Avoid in Your Wedding Speech
Your thank-you speech is a moment of gratitude and light humor. Not an opportunity to make your closest friends feel humiliated.
Keep it Light
Not every memory is good, and not all journeys to the wedding day are perfect. But nobody wants to hear about that during your thank-you speech.
If you think, even for a second, that one of your funny anecdotes is a bit too cruel, or ‘illuminating’ about someone’s behavior or personality, share it with someone you trust.
Get a second opinion before possibly ruining what should be a very special moment.
Try to Hold Back the Tears
We suggest practicing your speech out loud before the big day, not just because you’ll deliver it better, but because it’ll help you hold back the tears.
If you’re prone to waterworks or are worried the moment will get to you, going over the speech multiple times beforehand will really help, as it’ll strip back some of the emotion from the words, and make it feel a little more composed or rehearsed for you.
Like watching a movie that makes you cry multiple times, it may evoke a few tears the first time around, even the second or third. But by the fourth or fifth you know what to expect, and you’re mentally prepared.
Much like a drunk wedding speech, a lachrymose speech can be sweet and touching, maybe even funny at first. However, it begins to wear out its welcome quickly if you’re so choked up you can’t even get your words out.
Leave the Four-letter Words at Home
It may sound cool, or pretty funny in your head, but dropping an F-bomb during a thank-you speech rarely ends well.
It depends on your crowd, but we’re confident that any toast with swear words in will cause offense to at least some members of the group. And really, there’s no need for it.
Keep it clean.
How Long Should a Wedding Speech Be?
As we mentioned above, there will likely be a few people raising a glass to you, and the room, before you get to your feet. Therefore, it’s best to keep your thank-you speech under 5 minutes.
Hitting the attention span sweet spot is key, and you’ll probably find that’s around 2:30-3 minutes. Think of the length of an average pop song.
Besides, if you’re not the most confident person, even speaking for 2 minutes to a room full of people will feel like an eternity.
How to Deal with Public-Speaking Nerves
Be Honest About Your Nerves
It’s fair to say that we all feel nervous to some extent when speaking to a large group of people. But if you’re on the higher end of that scale, and are sweating at the thought of giving your speech, it’s better for you to be honest with your public.
Sharing is caring, and when public speaking, it can be such a weight off your shoulders to just admit you’re nervous.
If you share how you feel, the room will be even more responsive and nurturing to you. And you’ll feel a massive sense of relief that you don’t have to hide anything.
Use Notes, But Don’t Write a Monologue
It can seem tempting to write out every word you’re planning to say in the hope that it’ll make things easier. And to some extent, it will.
However, your audience will not appreciate it. You’ll lose some of the emotion and the effect of your speech by simply reading it off a sheet of paper.
Instead, write out notes, minimal notes. Notes that will trigger your memory, and help fill in the gaps when you falter. Besides, you’ve rehearsed this speech aloud a bunch of times anyway, so by now you barely need prompts!
Relax & Focus on the Positive Outcome
Sure, saying ‘relax’ to someone who’s stressing out is rarely appreciated, but saying it to yourself may help. Especially beforehand.
Those of a nervous disposition often fear the worst will happen, even when it’s highly unlikely, and this stops them from actually enjoying whatever event it is they’re involved in.
Attempt to kick that mental habit to the curb, and remember all of those people sitting in front of you are there to see you succeed. And they are excited to hear whatever it is you’ve got to say.
Nobody is judging you (except your aunt Jane…). This isn’t a presentation, and really, you’re just having a chat with your nearest and dearest.
Keep all of this in mind, and you should start to feel more at ease, and prepared to say a big thank you to your loved ones.