Anxious about making a wedding speech? Don't worry, you've got this!


You’ve Been Asked to Give a Speech at Your Best Friend’s Vegan Wedding. Now What?

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We’ve been there and we feel your pain: you’ve been asked by your best friend, the groom (or the bride), to give a speech at their wedding. You know you can’t say no (or can you?! More on that later), but the mere thought of it cocoons you in a cloud of dread.

What am I supposed to say?
What if I make a complete fool of myself?
I’m absolutely terrified of public speaking!

First, r-e-l-a-x. It’s going to be just fine. This isn’t you at the Academy Awards making your Best Actor speech, nor is it a valedictorian’s soliloquy. This is a moment to tell your friend, in front of their friends and family, how much you love them, how glad you are that they found their perfect partner, and, yes, to embarrass them with a silly anecdote if you must. It's that simple!

And in case you were wondering, yes, you can decline the invitation to speak at your best friend’s wedding, but warning: it may cause bad feelings ranging from resentment to despair, and worse–your friend may delete you from the wedding party altogether (it happens). Your friend chose you because they love you, believe in you, and trust you to step up to the plate and do a good job. Do you really want to say no to all that?

You were asked to speak at your friend's wedding because they love and trust you. You can do this! | SARA MONIKA PHOTOGRAPHY

Even if you think of yourself as “not a public speaker” or fear you might have a panic attack, know that with thoughtful words, plenty of practice, and some breathing exercises (or a shot—but just one—of your favorite liquid courage), it really will be OK. So let go of the fear, open your laptop, and use these tips to start drafting a wedding speech you’ll feel proud of. You’ve got this!

7 Tips for Nailing Your Wedding Speech

1. Tell a Story
Maybe your friend had tried every dating app under the sun before finally giving up on swiping right altogether, only to meet his perfect match at the vegan cafe he visits every morning for his oat milk latte. Not everyone knows the couple’s origin story, but you were there for the ride and know how it all went down. Storytelling is embedded in our DNA, and we love a happy ending, so use these familiar elements to craft a narrative and your work is done!

2. Keep it short
Let’s be honest: no one wants to hear a long, rambling speech, even if it’s delivered by a trained Shakesperian thespian, and especially when there’s a dance floor and a dessert table piled high with vegan doughnuts just over there. The sweet spot for a wedding speech is between 3 and 5 minutes, which may seem like an eternity when you’re standing up in front of a crowd, but it goes by fast. Nail your closing line (in case your mind goes blank, you’ll have that), pare it down and keep it tight; it’s better to leave people wanting more than to have them checked out when you’re only half-way through!

3. Don’t make it about you
It’s a common wedding-speech error: making it about you instead of the reason you’re all there: the newlywed couple. Keeping the focus on your friend and their new husband or wife can help shift any speech-related stress, and really, they are what this moment is all about. Think of your speech as a love letter to your friend, but make it inclusive. Tell them how you knew they were right for each other when XY or Z happened, and tell them how happy you are they found each other. Done and dusted!

4. Keep it real
In wedding speeches as in life, authenticity is where it’s at. Instead of trying to sound like A Professional Wedding Speech Maker, slow it down, throw in some honesty (but not too honest! See tip #6 for reference), and speak from the heart. Who knows? You might even have guests reaching for their tissues, the ultimate sign of a wedding speech well played.

5. When in doubt, skip the humor
Not everyone is gifted at the art of humor, and you aren’t expected to stand up and rattle off a litany of funny one-liners, so if making people laugh isn’t one of your strengths, don’t go there! You can give a meaningful speech rooted in sincerity that has zero humor, and that's OK. What your friend and others will respond to is your relationship to the newlyweds, their relationship to each other, and how you express what it means to you. If there's a funny story therein, great! But if there isn't, don't worry. It's not comedy night!

6. Stay classy
Attend enough weddings, and eventually you’ll experience the unease that accompanies a speech delivered by a tipsy Best Man or dramatically overemotional Maid of Honor. What ensues generally falls into ear-bleed territory; incoherent stories, inappropriate storytelling (nothing turns a potentially uplifting moment into five minutes of pure dread faster than bringing up the bride or groom’s ex-partner), or non-stop blubbering. Keep it positive, limit alcohol consumption (or save it for after your toast), and avoid potentially divisive topics including religion, politics, and sex. (Good advice for any formal party!)

7. Practice, practice, practice
You’ve heard the maxim “practice makes perfect.” Never has this rung truer than within the context of wedding speeches. Video yourself, ask friends or family to critique you, review your speech with a critical eye (putting it down for a few days after writing your first draft helps immensely), and keep practicing until it sounds natural and unscripted. Remember, this is all in the name of elevating the vibes at your best friend’s wedding, and if that’s not worth investing time and energy into, what is?

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