Francesco guide to top toasts

Make sure your speeches are remembered for the right reasons with expert advice for everyone involved

We've all heard the horror stories about the speech that turned into an hour-long lecture, the groom who took Dutch courage too far and couldn't remember his new wife's name and the aspiring comedian whose risque jokes offended everyone. It's easy for a wedding speech to be remembered for all the wrong reasons, but our guide will solve your worries, from deciding who should speak to overcoming nerves.

Look who's talking

According to tradition, speeches should be given by the father of the bride, the groom and the best man, but don't feel you have to conform to this mould. If one of your "big three" is a timid public speaker, replacing them with another loved one will save their nerves and yours. Similarly, a confident and witty friend could delight your guests by effortlessly regaling anecdotes. And don't feel you have to leave toasts to the men –it's becoming popular for brave brides and their mothers and bridesmaids to say a few words too. "As long as speakers remember who to toast and who to thank, they can pretty well be anyone' says Suzan St Maur, author of The A to Z of Wedding Worries and Wedding Speeches for Women*.

What to include

Stop you worrying about putting your foot in it, we've come up with great ideas to help every speaker deliver a word-perfect speech:

An anecdote about how you met your husband and what you first thought of him should raise a giggle.
Praise anyone who made a unique contribution, such as the bridesmaids or the friend who designed your cake.

Don't forget to thank the bride's father for allowing you to marry his daughter and pay a compliment to your new wife (and the mums!). 0 If you're having problems putting your
feelings into words, let Shakespeare or Wordsworth do it for you – find inspiration at,
When the bride or groom is giving a speech, any mention of "my wife and I" or "my new husband" is sure to bring loud applause.

Father of the bride
As well as mentioning how proud you are of your daughter, don't be afraid of telling a joke or including some funny tongue-in-cheek advice to the newlyweds.

Mother of the bride
Recall how your daughter told you about her groom for the first time and slip in a few entertaining tales from her younger years.

Best man or chief bridesmaid
"Whether your content will focus on the bride, groom or both, try to go for a balance of laughs and sincerity;" advises Lawrence Bernstein, founder of speech-building website "Pick out anecdotes from that person's life and end by talking about how they've changed for the better since they met their partner – a perfect job for the best man or the chief bridesmaid"

"Introduce something that relates to the bride's or groom's employment;' suggests George Davidson. If the groom is an estate agent, talk about him as a desirable property, and for a teacher, write a funny report card.

Share your amusing memories of the bride or groom and describe the time you've spent together in the run-up to the wedding

And don't forget...
To give your thanks. You might think "I do" are the two most important words you'll say, but thanking guests is a must. "Thank the host and hostess, key family members and attendants:' says Lawrence. "Except for the best man (or chief bridesmaid), it's a great idea to thank all your guests for coming" And if you're stuck for ways to close your speech, a celebratory toast will always get a cheer. "A special toast to the happy couple or to absent friends is the perfect ending to any speech," adds Lawrence.

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