How to write a funny wedding speech
A funny wedding speech is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the wedding reception. Whether it’s given by the best man, the father of the bride, the groom or the bride herself, a hilarious wedding speech instantly lifts the room and makes for a memorable wedding breakfast. However, as a result, there can be a lot of pressure on the wedding party to write the perfect wedding speech. We interviewed professional speaker Peter Edge to get his top tips on crafting a funny wedding speech…
Image credit: Martin Vaughan Photography
Your nickname is ‘The Laughter of Ceremonies’ – how important do you think it is for wedding speeches to be funny?
It’s not absolutely essential for a good wedding speech to be funny, but it can really help. Weddings tend to be joyous occasions anyway, so most people are already predisposed to a bit of fun. A good speech, especially if it’s funny, allows that sense of fun to escape. Saying that, I’ve seen and heard some beautiful wedding speeches which haven’t been ‘funny’ at all. Sincerity and authenticity count for a lot.
What kind of jokes work best in your experience? Are there any jokes that should always be avoided at weddings?
The key here is how well you know your audience. As the best man, for instance, you may be speaking to up to five generations of two families, who you may or may not know particularly well. What the bride’s 85-year-old grandmother finds funny, might not be quite the same as what her 18-year-old cousin does! So the kind of jokes that work best tend to be ‘safe’ jokes, and only those with a good knowledge of those present know what ‘safe’ is.
Image credit: Dave Perry Photography
Jokes about immediate family usually work well, especially if it’s about a characteristic that everyone knows about, something like being late, falling asleep, being an angry driver. Self-deprecating jokes work well to get the room on your side.
Jokes about former relationships can be really dangerous ground, as can anything which is going to cause embarrassment. You need to find a well-informed confidant who you can run your speech past without giving it away. As a rule I’d say try and avoid jokes that are too personal and instead try and focus on jokes aimed at something everyone can relate to – like the weather, or the cost of petrol. Some comedians call this ‘punching up’ rather than ‘punching down’.
What are your thoughts on including pre-written jokes from the internet?
I’m not a huge fan, but if they can inspire someone writing a speech to adapt them and make them their own then that’s great. I wouldn’t want people relying on them, but as a starting point they’ve certainly got some value, especially if any of the principal characters at the wedding ‘fit’ into them (or can be made to fit!).
Image credit: Murray Clarke Photography
What should best men do if they’re not natural comedians but feel under pressure to write a funny wedding speech?
Get help! Very few people are natural comedians and not that many people are comfortable with standing up and speaking in front of an audience. So the advice would be start early, set yourself a time limit (five minutes is plenty long enough for any of the traditional wedding speeches) and decide on a few relevant ‘themes’. Write them down and then think those themes through and try and find some humour in them – believe me it will be there! And if you’re still struggling, ask someone to help – someone who’s done it before, or even someone who does it for a living!
What are your tips for brides or maids of honour speeches?
I love it when I see tradition turned on its head, and some of the funniest speeches I’ve seen have been delivered by brides and maids of honour. The advice is pretty much the same as for a best man. Start early, limit your time, search for the humour (which of course can be from a totally different perspective), and practice! Find a confidant who will give you honest feedback, and keep refining your speech until it’s slick and funny. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help – there’s plenty out there!
Image credit: Nigel Chapman Photography
What are your top three tips for wedding speeches in general?
- Keep it short, but don’t waste any words.
- Start by ‘building a bridge’ with your audience. Establish some common ground and get them on your side.
- Practice, practice and then practice some more!
Thank you to Peter Edge for his fantastic wedding speech advice. Find out more or hire Peter as a speaker or consultant here.
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