Vows & Speeches – Custom Vows, Speeches, and Ceremonies

10 tips to help you make the most out of your toast and avoid common pitfalls

For those that don’t know how to write a best man/maid of honor/father or mother of the bride speech…

By Brian Franklin, Co-Founder of Vows & Speeches


A great wedding speech can be one of the highlights of a wedding… but conversely, a terrible speech can lay waste to the event. More commonly, though, wedding speeches are just mediocre or boring… which begs the question:

Why should anything be boring (or worse) at a wedding where every other aspect of the wedding has been thought through?

Most people who write wedding speeches simply just don’t have enough guidance or help.

Here are some tips that will help you make the most out of your speech or toast, and avoid some of the common pitfalls and cliches that tend to ruin these moments.

  1. Keep it between 3-4 minutes.
    This is typically between 400-600 words, but the only way to know is to read it out loud and time it. (It depends on your speaking style. Attention spans are shorter than ever – and if you go longer, you risk losing the audience and blowing a very carefully crafted.
  2. Use only the safest jokes and stories
    Avoid jokes or stories that could conceivably embarrass someone or expose a secret. Additionally, not everyone wants to revisit bad times in their lives, so be careful about talking about difficult times or breakups. Never talk about past relationships/wives.
  3. Avoid generic phrases
    Try to avoid anything you’ve heard at a wedding before. Don’t say “You’ve always been there for me.” Instead give examples of how they’ve been there for you. Talk about what they mean to you and why. Be specific and tell a story.
  4. Always address both of the couple as equally as you can.
    If anything, try to weigh it towards the person you know the least. If you don’t know them well, focus on the positive changes you’ve seen in your friend or family member since their relationship began, and how happy you are that this person will be in your family. Speak to what you’ve seen and know.
  5. Don’t let the truth get in the way of a thoughtful and kind speech
    The mission of any wedding speech is to pay tribute to the couple and toast to their happiness. It’s not to reconcile your true feelings about the person your friend/child/sibling is marrying. Always keep your comments positive. Always.
  6. This isn’t your big shot at standup. This is about making them happy.
    You may very well be a funny person, and your familiarity with the couple may give you a lot of material to work with, but ultimately, treat this as a gift to them. Jokes should resolve into a serious idea and/or loving statements. It’s fun to roast people, but balance the roast with the mission at hand: their happiness. Keep the speech focused on them, not on how funny you can be.
  7. Create balance in your tone. Don’t make it all serious or all humor.
    Dynamics are critically important to the success of any speech, and you should focus on creating dynamic both in content and tone. There should be fast, exciting, fun parts and slower, more serious and earnest parts. Four minutes of listening to someone spout their love is a lot without breaking it up with a bit of humor. Similarly four minutes of straight humor comes across as unsentimental. It’s important to have both to keep people’s attention.
  8. Practicing out loud brings confidence and better performances.
    Like any physical activity, repetition creates muscle memory. It’s not necessary for you to memorize the lines… but the more you do it, the more you will be able to concentrate on your tone and the expression of the words, rather than the words themselves. It will also help you work through lines that may be difficult and take extra practice (or require editing).
  9. Get help if you’re nervous or having trouble finding the words.
    Obviously, we’d love to work with you… but if there’s someone you know that can help you, ask them. If you’ve already written something or have parts of it done, try them out on someone you trust to give you an honest assessment. It’s better to get advice in advance and make the adjustments then to test it out for the first time in the spotlight. That said, we can provide help on both the writing and the practicing of your speech! It’s made a huge difference for hundreds of weddings. (See our testimonials)

    Want help or just to chat about what we do? Book a call here!

  10. Never, ever, ever say “For those that don’t know me…”
    It is the biggest cliché in the wedding universe. It is painful. You will be introduced by the DJ/MC… but otherwise, you can also identify who you are within a story. ( For example… “As your older sister, my initial job was to torture you…”). But on behalf of all wedding pros… please… just don’t say “For those who don’t know me..”