Sandra Losty of Perfect Detail interviewed Karen O’Donnell in order to get her tips on how to do a perfect wedding speech.

Being asked to be a ‘best man’ is a huge honour.  It involves lots of fun activities, planning the stag night, assisting with preparation and the main honour, is giving your best man speech.  During this interview, Karen speaks of the 3 Ps – Prepare, Practise & Pause.  A wedding speech following the classic structure which can be applied to most speeches.  Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.


Research the main wedding party.  Are there people travelling a long way to attend the wedding.  Any ‘special mentions’??  Anyone who has played a pivotal role in Bride or Grooms life?  Is there anyone close, who has passed on?  Anyone, in particular, you should pay extra attention to?  Getting this information will make your speech inclusive of all the couples’ nearest and dearest.  You may well have a great memory, however, for a speech of this importance, write it down!

  • How long do you have?  Check with the groom – is it 5 minutes or longer??
  • The opening should be roughly 15% of the time
  • Body 70%
  • Wrap up 15%
  • Memorise the opening and wrap up so as you can look around the room and make eye contact with your audience.  You can then read the body of the speech if you need to.

Suggested areas to include:

  • Like all speeches, hook your audience within the first 10 seconds…. kick off with a crafty opening – a quote or a poem are good choices
  • Jokes about the Groom – though keep to a general nature
  • Congratulate the wedding couple & thank any other speakers
  • Compliment bride & bridesmaids
  • Read any messages
  • Propose a toast

Areas to avoid

  • Adult humour – Granny might be in the audience
  • In-jokes – can alienate some of the audience.
  • Previous relationships – focus should be on this relationship (Bride & Groom)


Great, you have written your speech – time to walk through it, several times.  Run though it with some friends or colleagues who will give you helpful feedback.  Look out for the emotional sections, and practise using an apporpriate tone.  Slow down, its not a race – vary your pace also!  You have put alot of time into this speech, make sure everyone can hear every word.  A learning tool would be to record yourself – even on your phone.  Looking back you will spot what areas need addressing!


The power of the Pause!  Pause when you are saying something noteworthy.  If you are acknowledging someone who has passed on, its worthy of a pause.  If your audience laugh – pause.  When they have finished laughing, resume.  When you are saying something touching about the couple… pause!

Effective communication skills are not only necessary, it is an essential.  Several areas of our lives now require us to give a speech.  Pitching for funding to a bank; selling to a customer or giving a wedding speech.  Lets make them memorable for all the right reasons!

Being asked to be Best Man, is truly an honour – enjoy!

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