How long should a wedding speech be?

Along with the first dance and the throwing of the bride’s bouquet, wedding speeches are one wedding tradition that remains popular in the UK.

The average wedding speech is no longer just a toast to the newly married couple’s health and happiness. It’s a chance to share other important moments of their relationship, anecdotes and even embarrassing stories with the wider wedding party.

For the chosen few who get to speak, the pressure is on to produce a speech that will be remembered for all the right reasons. But striking the right balance between exciting and emotive isn’t as simple as many think!

Even if you know the newlyweds inside out, crafting a speech that keeps everyone engaged is a real challenge. The average wedding speech should, after all, be sentimental, funny, and nostalgic all at the same time. From its length to its content, there’s a lot to think about. Here, we take a closer look at the key factors that make a wedding speech great.

Before, During, or After the Wedding Breakfast?

One key decision that needs to be made by the bride and groom is when to have the speeches – having them early, before the wedding breakfast, means getting them out of the way so the nervous Groom can start enjoying his day. Conversely, by waiting until the end of the meal, you are far more likely to have a responsive audience who have been conveniently loosened by the wine served during the meal – whether this is a good thing or not is up to you to decide! Some may even opt for having the speeches between courses, however, this is not encouraged by our Personal Wedding Managers, or Chefs for that matter, because speeches that overrun can play havoc with the meal service, potentially impacting on the quality of the food.

Our experienced Personal Wedding Managers always encourage the speeches after the meal for one key reason – it allows for a decent gap between the wedding breakfast and the evening buffet which is often served between 8am and 9am.  We’ve had many an occasion where speeches before or during the meal service have delayed things to such an extent that by the time the Wedding Breakfast has finished, the evening buffet is due to go out. It’s all very well delaying the evening buffet for your day guests, but then your evening guests will get hungry, so it’s always best to opt for speeches after the meal.

The Length

Whether you’re the father of the bride or groom taking to the stage to deliver a welcome toast, or the best man or maid of honour giving a nostalgic nod to the past, choosing the right speech length can mean the difference between keeping guests laughing along with you and seeing them doze off.

While there are no hard and fast rules for how long a wedding speech should be, keeping it short and sweet is recommended. With the right editing, you can deliver a speech that’s long enough to draw listeners in without the risk of them getting bored. 

Easy Weddings offers their advice for timing your speech length just right:

“If you’re having 2 or 3 around 8 minutes is about right. The more speeches you have the less time you should allocate and speeches of around 2 minutes can be just as meaningful as longer ones without taking up a huge chunk of your wedding breakfast. Trying to keep all your speeches to less than 30 mins, no matter how many you have is a good rule of thumb.”

The content

Now for that all-important content. The topics you cover in your wedding speech shouldn’t leave the bride and groom too nervous, but throwing in a few embarrassing stories won’t hurt!

Introducing yourself and welcoming the guests is a great start. This should be followed by stories and insights that are personal to the bride and groom.

When writing a wedding speech, consider your audience. Make sure the story, joke or anecdote you’re planning to share is appropriate. Writing from the heart and keeping the speech as authentic as possible is a great way to go. Don’t be afraid to test it out on a loved one before the big day arrives, to ensure you’re hitting all the right notes with your wedding speech content.

The delivery

So you’ve got the length and the content right, now it’s time to share it with your audience. The way you deliver your wedding speech is just as important as how long it is and what it includes.

Memorising the speech isn’t for everyone, nerves can get the better of the most confident speaker. Prepare cue cards for the speech to give you helpful prompts without having to read it word-for-word from a piece of paper. Whether you’re going it alone or using cue cards, practice does indeed make perfect.

When it’s time to take to the stage and deliver your speech, try to speak slowly and clearly. Your big performance shouldn’t be rushed so take a deep breath, stand up straight and smile.

It’s important to remember that the audience is on your side. You may get the odd heckle but enjoying these interruptions will ensure your speech is natural and entertaining.

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