There are typically three main speeches made at a wedding: the best man, groom and father of the bride. However, the bride and her maid of honour can stand and make a speech too.
The Best Man's Speech
It is the best man's duty to give a speech about his relationship with the groom and thank the bridesmaids. This speech should be respectful and light hearted, being funny in the right places, but not causing embarrassment to any member of the wedding party. It's often the highlight of the reception and should be filled with anecdotes leading the guests to laugh and find interesting. How to decide what is appropriate to include should be measured against what the groom's mother would acknowledge as memorable for the right reasons. Boy's talk should be kept to a minimum, but if in any doubt - leave it out. No pressure then!
The best man may also be asked to read out messages and telegrams from those unable to attend.
Father of The Bride Speech
This is the speech most likely to cause the tears to flow. The bride's father is called upon by the toastmaster (or the best man) to propose a toast of 'health and happiness to the bride and groom' and welcome the groom's parents, relatives of both families. It's also his opportunity to praise his daughter for her love and kindness shown while being raised, sending her on her way to her new life with her husband, with his blessing. A father of the bride will usually call upon the guests to share his admiration of his daughter and wish her well for her new life ahead, reassuring her that she will always be a very special daughter in his life.
The Groom's Speech
The groom speaks on behalf of himself and his bride, thanking his and her parents for their generosity of the wedding and the upbringing that makes them the people they are today. He will also thank everyone for their wedding gifts. The groom will also want to wish any close members of the family who could not attend the wedding because of illness, a speedy recovery. Any grandparents from both sides will get a special mention from him too.
To finish, the groom will propose a toast to the bridesmaids, thanking them for all the help they've been to his bride. At this point, he may present gifts or flowers showing appreciation to the ladies in the wedding party, bridemaids and others who hold a special place in his heart.
The Bride Speaks
It's more common these days for the bride to say a few words on her wedding day, especially if someone close to her could not be present. She may also want to use the opportunity to speak fondly to her parents as she embarks on her life as a married woman. This is her chance to thank all her bridesmaids and guests for attending on the happiest day of her life, for their gifts and their love, inviting everyone to join her in celebrating in the hours to come.
While speeches at a wedding are personal and come from the heart, if nerves get the better of you in these situations and you'd prefer to work from a script, there's no shame in asking a professional speech writer to help you out. Or, you can read your own notes from a piece of paper, ensuring everything you want to say is said, with nothing missed out as a result of your eagerness to get out of the limelight.