Weddings during coronavirus: you can still write (and give) a great speech

Updated June 19th, 2020. Everyone knows that weddings have been very hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s only now that small weddings are allowed to go ahead in Northern Ireland. Other British nations are considering allowing small weddings later this summer.

Other countries like the USA, Canada and Australia are at similar points of allowing simple, small events – and many are saying that weddings are likely to be smaller than normal for quite some time to come.

article about wedding speeches during coronavirus pandemic

Even with a very small wedding like we’re experiencing post lockdown, you can write – and give – a great speech

But that’s no reason why your speech should be any different from what it would have been at a healthier time. Even if your audience will be just a few close friends and family sitting around a table, here’s how to prepare it so that when the day finally does come, it will be a great one!

13 articles packed with tips and inspiration for you. And in addition to the traditional speech-making roles we have some ideas for other family members and friends who want to get up and “say a few words.” Enjoy!

Why Coronavirus need not damp down your wedding speech – whoever you are


In no particular order then … just click on the article titles that appeal to you…

Wedding speeches: need to give one? Here’s some help!
A basic outline of who says what, and the essential points and topics everyone must cover. This year with the pandemic forcing weddings to be much smaller, you may find you can streamline the “must haves” and be less formal.

10 tips for women to make great wedding speeches
General guidelines for all women, from the bride to her daughter. Tackles the slightly sensitive issues of humour and anything indelicate which some members of the audience might find inappropriate coming from the blushing bride, her bridesmaid, or her mother…

Wedding speeches: Mom or Grandma? Make a speech that wows them
Very detailed ideas for what Mom or Grandma (or other more mature lady relative) can talk about in her speech – remembering that this is a small, personal occasion.

How to make a great bride’s wedding speech
Brides are not part of the traditional line-up for wedding speeches and so have the freedom to talk about whatever they please, although certain things should be in there out of courtesy. This article goes into detail on the sort of approaches and content the bride will be comfortable with.

How to make a great best man’s wedding speech
This is one of the traditional roles and scares some men who are not natural speakers but feel they must instantly become the wittiest man in town. In this year’s circumstances it may be tempting for the best man to make jokes about COVID-19 but for most audiences – small or otherwise – you need to be very careful not to be insensitive.

For the nervous types, especially, the coronavirus pandemic may help a little because with a small audience there isn’t quite the same need to entertain a crowd! 

In fact, that’s not what the best man’s speech is all about, unless the best man wants it to be. In this article I suggest some alternative ways to do the job and not lose sleep over it for a whole week before the wedding…

How to make a great groom’s wedding speech
One of the downsides of the groom’s speech in the traditional sense is that he, more than anyone, has to make sure he thanks everyone who must be thanked – or else. This can reduce his opportunities to be funny or romantic or whatever, but there is still room for him to be as creative as he likes. And with the small group due to the pandemic, there won’t be so many peple to thank anyway.

How to make a great father of the bride wedding speech
Dads or even Uncles, Godfathers, etc., can get quite emotional in their speech because essentially it’s a reminiscence piece about the bride. When Dad does this it can be excruciating for the bride, too … .

..especially if he drags out that old story about how she fell out of an apple tree when she was 12 and embarrassed the whole family by shouting obscenities, and so-on and so-on.

Never mind: a little tact and diplomacy on both sides can work wonders.

Weddings: the “best man’s” speech, by a woman
This is an interesting role switch, although now – especially but not exclusively with gay weddings – women give “best person” speeches all the time and do a grand job of it. As with the male version, the primary topic of the speech is the groom.

Weddings: the “father of the bride” speech, by a woman
A woman giving this speech can be even more powerful than if it’s done by a man. Women can get away with being more emotional without sounding cheesey.

The slightly tearful and ever-so-slightly drunken Dad or Uncle, though, can be painful to witness.

The above article covers the subject carefully…

How to write speeches for a same-sex wedding
Needless to say there shouldn’t be any differences between the sentiments for same sex weddings as there are for mixed variety. But it’s still worth being mindful of the fact that some guests, especially elderly ones, may still be getting used to this comparatively new institution.

How to tell funny jokes in a speech – tutorial
In this article we look at the craft of joke telling, and its parallel skill of joke selection along with ways of rewriting the jokes so they seem tailor-made for an occasion. There’s some useful information in here for any wedding speech maker, but especially the best man as traditionally his speech is the funniest (although it doesn’t have to be – see above.) And as already mentioned above, at this time though it may be tempting to make jokes about the pandemic, lockdown, etc., you need to be sensitive. As it’s a small group you’re likely to know each other well and so you should know if someone last lost a loved-one or friend to the virus; but don’t count on everyone thinking the stress of the whole thing is funny. For many of us, it isn’t.

10 quick tips for talks and speeches: how to time yours perfectly
Strictly speaking, because a wedding is a personal/social occasion people don’t feel the need to either write out a script or keep to a reasonably short timeframe. The reality is different.

Sometimes wedding guests – in normal times – are standing during the speeches; and no-one the wrong side of 30 wants to stand around listening to speeches for 45 minutes or more.

With a coronavirus small wedding there should be no need for guests to stand, so this needn’t be a problem. However the speeches are likely to be given after a long meal and if they go on for more than 20 minutes or guests may be dying to go to the bathroom, get up and walk around, step outside for a sneaky smoke, call the babysitter, etc. This article shows you how to time your speeches accurately, from a script which you can then either memorise or reduce to bullet points so it sounds more “natural.”

Wedding speeches: help! The dog ate my notes and the wedding is today…
If you really are caught out at the last minute and only have a few minutes to get yourself out of trouble, this article shares some quick tips on recalling what you need to talk about – plus some tips on how to get around having forgotten people’s names, and even if you dry up completely. And don’t kid yourself that just because you’re in a small group you can “wing it” without this bit of help.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have…

…just add them to the comments section below, or email me on suze@suzanstmaur.com, and I will answer them as well as I can. You may also find this book useful … and this one.

Good luck!

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