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  • Holly Blum, The Word Whisperer

Five Wedding Speech Faux-Pas To Avoid

Most people understand what is clearly off-limits at weddings. Hitting on the bride, speaking up when the officiant asks if anyone objects to the marriage, asking for a “to go” bag of hors d’oeuvres. But when it comes to speechmaking, not everyone is as educated about the major faux pas. Stay away from these no-nos and you’ll be in a great position to deliver a winning toast.

1. Insert Speech Here

Avoid surfing for template speeches online and using them for your own. They start the same, end the same and sound like everybody else. Seize this opportunity to make your mark on the day and communicate what is uniquely reflective of the couple and your relationship with them. Think about the memories that truly capture the spirit of the day and share them in a fun and engaging way.

2. Overdoing the thank yous

So many speeches use the first minute thanking everyone for coming, giving shout outs to each family member and listing where they’ve travelled from (even if they live around the corner). While it’s certainly okay to thank a select few VIPS—parents, grandparents, best man/maid of honor— don’t squander your time thanking everyone and their mother. Undoubtedly you will leave someone out and feelings can get hurt. And don’t be afraid to thank people toward the end of the speech when you’re wrapping up. This way you can use the start of the speech to really grab people’s attention.

3. Overstaying your welcome

When the bride and groom ask you to give a speech they’re only loaning you the microphone for a finite amount of time. Do everyone a favor and talk for only three to five minutes and then graciously sit down. That’s long enough to be humorous and heartfelt, and short enough to make a lasting impression without stealing the spotlight.

4. Cringe-worthy storytelling

This is not a time to share embarrassing stories about how your sister used to hide her bra in her sock or how your friend gave new meaning to partying on Spring Break. This is also not a time to share a collection of memories (even if they’re appropriate) without tying them all together. The best speeches follow a simple storytelling approach: they have a beginning, a middle and an end. Remember that you want to leave everyone smiling and feeling good, not cringing and counting the seconds until the speech is over.

5. Winging it

Perhaps the biggest mistake is deciding to be spontaneous and say whatever comes to mind. Even if you have the best of intentions it will never come out sounding as articulate as if you prepared in advance. Speaking at a wedding is an honor. Do it justice by taking the time to write out your speech and practice it several times aloud so that you’re 100% ready when you’re called up to the microphone.

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