It’s not common for couples to get up and give a speech at their own wedding reception. I think it’s a missed opportunity. This is your Oscar moment: people will be honored to be mentioned. Everyone is there to see you, so even if you’re nervous about public speaking, know that these people all love you and that this is your moment.
Express Gratitude: Thank all of your guests for coming. Recognize that they are taking time out of their busy lives to attend your wedding and let them know that you appreciate their presence. Thank specific people by name: your parents, members of your bridal party, your vendors, and anyone else that you think would appreciate a call-out (think: who are your words of affirmation people?). Remember to thank each other: you’ve both put a lot of work into this whole thing. If you think anyone that you mention here would like to have a physical copy of your speech, print it out for them. Give them something to remember it by.
Create Emotion: Make your guest laugh (and cry). Think about who the key people are at your wedding that you will want to have photos of--then think about how to get emotional reactions from these people and tailor your speech to that.
Stand Together: Only one of you has to speak; what’s important is that you’re up there together. Your guests and your photographer want to see you next to each other (and hopefully you want to be next to each other)! If you didn’t write your own vows, this is your chance to say something heartfelt to each other in your own words.
Tell a Story: Talk about how you first met, your proposal, how much you love each other, etc. Anything you feel is important to your story will be something your guests will love hearing.
Pausing Moment: This is a key moment at your reception. You can use this opportunity to give someone a gift or make everyone tear up at how cute you are with your new spouse. Make it your own and showcase who you are as a couple. Whatever you do, remember to slow down and make it count.
If you’re convinced to give a speech but don’t know where to start, check out these tips on giving a speech:
Mention people by name, especially those that you recognize have words of affirmation as their love language. Don’t forget to thank your parents and bridal party!
Don’t read your speech off your phone! I can’t tell you how often people lose their places and have to pause to scroll through the whole thing. Not to mention how bad it looks in the photos. I might as well just take a picture of you scrolling through Instagram. And no matter how new your phone is on the wedding day, it will date the photos. Handwrite your speech or print it out. That way you can save it or give the piece of paper to the couple afterwards (or, if you are the couple, to a person who you mentioned).
Have someone record your speech whether it’s your videographer or your dad. You can watch it back later to remember the emotions of the day.
Practice. Read your speech over to yourself so that you’re familiar with it and don’t have to read it word for word off of a piece of paper while you’re up there. Practice in front of another person so that you can get feedback on how things are coming across. This is especially a good idea if you have stage fright: get comfortable giving your speech to an audience. In many relationships, one person is a stronger public speaker. It’s perfectly okay to rely on this person to give the speech as long as you stand together during it.
Don’t rush off after the speech. Have a plan about what’s happening after: another speech, cake cutting, dinner, etc. and communicate that plan with everyone involved. I always appreciate when the speeches happen during dinner so that you get photos of these key moments instead of photos of your guests eating. Whatever you do, always stand up there for a minute and give people hugs or hold up your champagne glass for an extra minute so that I can get a picture.