Many couples have engagement parties to celebrate the acceptance of a proposal with their family and friends. At this party, it’s traditional for the groom to be to give a short speech or toast to honor his bride-to-be and thank everyone gathered for being an important part of the couple’s life.
For many grooms, the thought of giving a speech in front of a big crowd can cause immense anxiety. But an engagement speech does not have to be long or poetic to be effective and moving. Sally Gibson, founder and owner of Someone Sent You a Greeting, wants to remind you that, “An engagement party is typically an informal event. Approach the speech in this manner and remember this is the beginning of your story to getting married, be true to yourself and your partner.” If you speak from the heart and focus your thoughts on your bride-to-be, your speech will go over wonderfully.
Here are some writing tips you can follow to create the perfect engagement speech.
There is no set format for the groom’s engagement toast, though engagement party speeches are typically shorter and more light-hearted than wedding speeches. Your speech can consist of a sincere few words, or you can wax poetic about everything you love about your future bride.
The only requirement is that you speak from the heart, share your true feelings, and express yourself as naturally as possible.
Before your engagement party, take some time alone to write down what thoughts come up when you think about your fiancée. Think about why you asked her to marry you and what you are most looking forward to about your future together. Be sure to make your bride-to-be the focus of your speech.
Your engagement speech is a chance to share your love story, so it should be tailored to your specific partner. Don’t be lured in by sample engagement speeches and toasts you find on the internet. Honesty and personalization are much better than any generic script you may find, no matter how beautifully written.
Your bride-to-be said “yes” because she wants to marry you, so be yourself when you give your engagement speech. If you give a speech that isn’t authentic to who you are, your guests and future wife will be able to tell, and you’ll miss out on an opportunity to share your true feelings.
If you’re a quieter guy, feel free to give a short speech that reflects your reserved nature. If you love the spotlight, include some personal stories or anecdotes to entertain your guests and fill your bride’s mind with happy memories. If you’re funny (or at least your future wife finds you funny), add a joke or two, as long as they’re not made at your bride-to-be’s expense.
To keep things personal, avoid filling your speech with cliches (“you had me at hello”) and superficialities (“her beautiful blonde hair”). Yes, you may love your bride’s physical appearance, but your speech should focus on the unique features of her personality that you love, not her body.
Your family, close friends, and future spouse are celebrating your engagement with you because they love you and want to hear you share your story. There’s no need to act like anyone but yourself.
When writing your speech, keep your engagement party guest list in mind. If your extended family will be there, grandparents included, you’ll want to edit out any off-color jokes or profanity. Even if they wouldn’t care, lots of cursing or inside jokes can distract from the point of your speech.
Your engagement party speech is not the right time to share embarrassing stories or any anecdotes of an inappropriate nature. Never tell a story or make a remark that would embarrass anyone present, particularly your new fiancée. For the best results, keep your speech joyful and love-focused.
Brevity is the soul of wit; even the most engaged audience will lose focus if your speech drags on—plan to talk for five minutes or less. Five minutes gives you ample time to thank everyone, celebrate your bride-to-be, and make your toast. Say your piece, and then relax and let other people make their speeches.
After drafting your speech, time how long it takes to say the whole thing out loud. Speak slowly and clearly, pausing appropriately as you would during everyday speech. Speaking aloud is the best way to determine what sounds good and what to cut out, and you’ll easily be able to tell if your speech runs on too long.
On the day of your speech, read the room. You may need to make some last-minute edits depending on who ends up attending and what other people say in their toasts. Prepare enough content so you don’t repeat the same things other speech-givers have already said. Personalizing your speech can also help ensure less overlap and redundancy in your engagement party toast.
A good engagement speech includes three parts: thanking the guests, celebrating the soon to be bride, and making the toast.
When you thank your guests, give special recognition to family members. You don’t have to list everyone by name, but show appreciation to the father of the bride, mother of the bride, your own parents, and any family member who might have made a special arrangement to attend your party, like grandparents.
Focus the bulk of your speech on your love for your fiancée. You can tell stories about your relationship, like how you met or about a romantic vacation you took, and talk about your goals as a couple. Mention how excited you are as a newly engaged couple for your wedding day, and share some of your plans for the future.
End your speech by asking your guests to raise a glass and toast your fiancée, then sit back and relax while others give their engagement toasts.
First comes content, then comes refinement. After you’ve drafted what you want to say, give your speech to a friend who can provide feedback about length, clarity, and flow. They may pick up on things you didn’t notice and can be an excellent sounding board for what is appropriate to share.
There’s no need to try to memorize your speech. Memorized speeches tend to sound robotic and contrived. However, you also don’t want just to read it off prepared notecards. Practicing will help you find the public speaking sweet spot, where you refer to your notes as needed but primarily focus on connecting with your guests.
To set yourself up for success, curb your drinking until after your speech. The last thing your wedding guests and the bride-to-be will want to see is a drunk and tottering groom slurring words about love. Prioritize the moment and save the rest for your bachelor party.
The ideas in your speech should be yours alone, but if you’re struggling with putting your thoughts into words, you may want to collaborate with a professional writer who can help with details like sentence structure and word choice.
If you’re musically inclined, put your feelings into a song. People have been singing about love since the beginning of time, and (if you’re not tone deaf) writing a song is a personal and memorable way to celebrate your bride-to-be. You can work with a musician for song-writing assistance or play backup guitar or piano while you sing.
Your engagement party can help set the tone for your wedding and married life, so take your speech seriously. Whether your engagement party is a simple family dinner or a festive extravaganza, your speech should celebrate your future bride, show appreciation for your guests, and, most importantly, be genuine.
For tips and hacks to get you through the wedding speech, visit The Groom Club and subscribe to the TGC newsletter for all the latest content.