The best man stands up, adjusts his tie with a quick tug, and nervously clinks his wine glass with his knife. All eyes turn to him, waiting in anticipation of hearing words of wisdom – and even a few jabs – for the newlyweds. Talk about pressure!

If you’ve been asked to deliver a speech at your friend’s wedding reception, relax. Writing a wedding speech is a lot easier than you think. By integrating your own personal flair along with some heartfelt emotion and spontaneity, you can deliver a speech that dazzles the crowd.

Whether you’ve been asked to be the best man, maid of honor, or simply say a few words at the wedding ceremony, you’re responsible for lightening the mood with some laughter and tears. And for most people, giving speeches – wedding or otherwise – doesn’t come naturally; staring out at a sea of guests can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not a classically trained rhetorician.

The beauty of wedding speeches, however, is the inherent spontaneity and off-the-cuff remarks that can be made. Remembering the good, old days and looking forward to better days is what makes wedding speeches so touching.

Below are some quick, easy tips to help you while writing a wedding speech that not only moves the wedding party and guests but leaves a memorable impression. Just don’t stress out! Writing a wedding speech is easier than you think!

Writing a Wedding Speech with Flair

First things first. Don’t waste any time putting together your speech ideas. Get out a fresh piece of paper, and jot down a few ideas that you know will help celebrate the marriage of the bride and groom in a positive way. Perhaps start with a funny anecdote or joke to elicit laughs from the audience and put you more at ease. Wedding speeches should always be light, funny, and conversational. Formal language has its place, but it’s not here. You should also ask the bride and groom – since they might be having others speak at their wedding reception – if they would like you to speak on a special theme or subject.

When compiling and writing your wedding speech, know your order in the wedding party. Though you should know well in advance the schedule or timeline of events at the ceremony itself, you may still find it helpful to coordinate with the bride, groom, and other members as well as establish a rapport.

Keep wedding speeches to innocuous topics, such as congratulations, compliments, stories, and happy wishes. Don’t ever say anything you think will be even the slightest bit offensive. At any given wedding, there are dozens of people from all walks of life, so it’s best to avoid incendiary subjects that some people may take issue with. This includes, of course, religion, sex, politics, past relationships of the bride and groom, crude language, and anything else that’s not family-friendly. When writing the speech, keep it upbeat and happy, avoid negative stories, and stay polite – this is key. And make sure to comment on the beautiful bride!

Some books that offer tips on wedding speeches may recommend you set out to memorize your speech by heart – this decision can easily go awry. Sure, you may have your paper in front of you, but searching for the words once you have forgotten them slows you down and creates long, perhaps uncomfortable silences. You would also be reading your speech verbatim, which can often sound mechanical and forced. Rather, think about having cue cards with the basic ideas you want to cover in your speech – simply elaborate on each topic that you’ve previously rehearsed while writing your wedding speech.

Wedding speeches should be kept short – everyone wants to return to eating, drinking, and having a good time, so avoid dragging out your happy wishes for too long. A good rule of thumb when writing a wedding speech is to have a great opener, a joke, a brief anecdote, and a heartfelt closing, all of which should take about five minutes. In short, plan out your key points in advance. At the end, you should always thank everyone, including the bridal party, wedding planners/organizers, and out-of-town guests.

Wedding Speeches that Wow

A little planning beforehand will help you formulate some basic thoughts you want to incorporate while writing your wedding speech. However, the best part about wedding speeches is throwing in some memories which are truly special to you – remember them aloud as you would tell any intimate moment with a close group of friends. If you happen to forget your wedding speech, it’s okay! Just run with it and speak from the heart. Share your happiness.

Emotions run high. Above all, embrace this honor which the bride or groom has bestowed upon you and make them smile.

Contributed by Cherie Johnson

Photo of Springwood Conference Center