You know what most men dread about getting married? It’s having to get up in front of a room full of people and make a wedding speech. Not just any old speech but a good speech that’s witty, interesting, emotional in all the right places and memorable.

Even if the groom is used to presenting at work – accustomed to ‘public speaking’ – it’s quite a different notion when it comes to his wedding day. The same goes for the Best Man, too. He’s been picked by the groom for his charm, organisational qualities, unruffled nature and loyalty and he really can’t let his best mate down on his wedding day. No pressure then.

So we asked some bridegrooms and best men who’ve spoken at weddings (and lived to tell the tale) how they got on, how they prepared, what to do and most importantly, what to avoid.

First off, we’d like to share this excellent tip given to us by photographer Mark Dolby who got married himself recently.

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“While it can take a bride hours to get ready in the morning, most men need about 30 minutes to get suited and booted and so are left with lots of waiting time. To fill the gap and quell the nerves I think a short run is a great idea. A recent groom of mine, along with his best man and ushers headed to his local park run. They are free, weekly, 5km timed runs organised on Saturday mornings around the country. Or gather together a group of the wedding party and go for a run together.”

Before we hear any more, let’s take a look at Stephen Merchant’s efforts in I’ll Give It A Year

“I’ve typed out my speech and have recorded myself saying it out loud,” says John, who’s getting married to Donna in December this year. “I’ve also timed it as I don’t want to go on for too long! Recording yourself is a really good idea – you can hear how you can improve the words and the bits that flow. I recorded it on my phone – easy”.

Chris who married Caroline says: “Ask your mother in law for some photographs of the bride and make a slide show to music. I don’t like giving speeches much so I kept mine really short – just the thank you’s really – but the slide presentation said everything. How we met, what we have in common, what we hope to do in the future.”

John was best man to Matthew, who got married to Italian Patrizia in Tuscany. Like Chris, he also opted to give a slide show for his speech. “Many of Patrizia’s Italian family don’t speak very much English and I don’t speak Italian very well and certainly didn’t want to try to do my whole speech in Italian!” he says. “I learned a few phrases but decided that I could get a lot across with photographs – so gathered together some of us both from childhood onwards and of the bride and groom. I had a music soundtrack and put subtitles in both English and Italian on the images – everybody loved it and it really broke down the language barriers.”

Huw who was best man to Nick says: “Try to avoid alcohol before your speech – you want to be really alert, just have a drink afterwards. Practise over and over again and don’t speak too fast which is easy to slip into if you’re feeling nervous.”

Comedian Dave Spikey, star of Phoenix Nights has written quite a bit about wedding speeches and interestingly for a comedian, he says that the groom’s speech “doesn’t have to be funny” and should be more “sincere and heartfelt and include a mention to how beautiful your bride looks thanks to various people who played an important part in the wedding planning.” It’s up to the best man to provide the humour he thinks.

Dave Spikey also has a tip for the groom who starts welling up with emotion “just get a hankie out, wipe your eyes and apologise for being so emotional – my guess is they’ll love you for it and it won’t be at all embarrassing”.

And what about the father of the bride?

Don’t forget, it’s customary for the father of the bride to stand up too. After all, he’s the one who delivered his little girl to the arms of her fiancé! This is a great clip from You Tube with what we think is a really well delivered speech.

Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing advises that everybody giving a speech consults one another beforehand, because “you don’t want to duplicate stories”. If a family member has given the same funny story to all of you then only one of you can use it – it’ll only raise a laugh once!

So, you’ve sorted your speech – now what? Take a look at our handy Wedding Planning Section for top tips on organising other parts of your day and some free downloadable planning spreadsheets!