First impressions matter. It's hardly an original thought but it is true and, as you're about to stand up in a room full of soon-to-be ex-strangers and pledge your allegiance to their family, it's never been more important that you make a good one.
The good news is you've done it before. You must've made a pretty good impression on your fiancee, for starters. But if you're still feeling nervous about your wedding speech, relax. We've put together a few tips and suggestions that will help you win over the crowd from word one.
You might want to start by introducing yourself! Yes, you're the groom and yes, your name was on the invites, but even Arnold Schwarzenegger says "Hi, I'm Arnold" when he meets new people. Why? Because it's polite! A little courtesy goes a long way so introducing yourself at the start of your speech is a great way of reaching out to your bride's friends and relations, many of whom will be meeting all sorts of people for the first time, too.
The Important Stuff
Of course, the groom's speech does have formal requirements. While they are few and easy to remember, you might decide to get the important stuff out of the way at the start of your speech. Tradition dictates that you thank your new wife's parents. Common sense confirms this; screw things up with the in-laws and you're in for a rocky road ahead. That doesn't mean you can't have a little fun, but have it at your own expense, not theirs. Try this for size:
I'd like to give a huge thanks to my new mother and father in-law for their support and generosity, and for today's lavish hospitality. Please don't think of it as losing a daughter. Just think of it as losing the opportunity to get lucky with a millionaire son-in-law.
Your second traditional obligation is to pay respects to invited guests who were unable to attend. Tread carefully if illness or infirmity are behind any absences, but if you're sure you can avoid a foot in mouth moment, this duty provides another opportunity to lighten the mood:
Welcome, everyone, to this wonderful wedding reception. The buffet was charged on a cost-per-head basis so, with that in mind, I'd like to give a special thank you to the following people, who couldn't make it along today…
Use the News
If you're a seasoned public speaker with no qualms about taking to the mic, why not jump in with a topical gag? Current events are the common ground we all share, so pick a big news story and you can be sure that most of your audience will get the joke! The race for the US presidency is one story that will keep running all the way to election day:
There are a lot of new faces for me in the room today. A lot of people I need to make a good impression with. It feels like a big task, to be honest, but hey - if Bernie Sanders can win over half of Iowa…
Throw Caution to the Wind
Okay, I know we've told you over and over to be polite and avoid offending anyone, especially you new family… but maybe you know better. Maybe you're marriage marks your admission into a clan of playful pranksters who are only too happy to roast each other at the top table. Maybe poking fun at each other is what your family does best! If that's the case, who are we to stop you? Go for it… like this guy. But don't say we didn't warn you!