The Wedding Thank-You Speech Guide Every Couple Needs

Written by Stephanie Hallett
Photo: Rockhill Studio

Aside from saying “I do,” every marrying couple has an important job to do at their reception: giving a wedding thank-you speech to show their friends and family their appreciation. But don’t freak out! Even if you’re terrified of public speaking, we’re here to help you figure out what to say and how to survive up there.

Stick with us as we answer some of your most-pressing questions about the wedding thank-you speech.

Why should we give a wedding thank-you speech?

That’s simple: Showing up to your wedding and witnessing your marriage is a pretty generous gift, and we think each and every one of your guests deserves a heartfelt thanks. We’re pretty sure you agree!

What should we say?

You’ll definitely want to thank both sets of parents and anyone else who was instrumental in making your wedding day happen (wedding party, close friends etc.) by name, and then thank your guests (as a group) for being there with you to celebrate. It can also be nice to reminisce about your relationship and share an anecdote or two that will get your guests chuckling or tearing up. Finally, you should say something to each other—it could be something sweet and silly or deeply touching, but either way it’s a good idea to thank your partner for agreeing to marry you. A wedding thank-you speech from a bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom) should feel gracious and appreciative.

How do we write it?

Sit down with your spouse-to-be and start by listing out the must-thank people (parents, in-laws etc.) then move on to brainstorming anecdotes. Perhaps the story of how you met is especially sweet or poignant, or there was a moment in your relationship when you both knew the other person was the one. Or perhaps something hilarious happened just last week that totally encapsulates the nature of your love! Whatever the story, it should evoke some kind of emotion in your guests and make them feel included in your love story. Last but not least, you can either brainstorm your toasts to each other together or write them separately, just be sure you agree on a tone and length before working apart—the last thing you need is for one partner to opt for a short, sweet laugh while the other says something heartfelt and long-winded.

How long should it be?

Not long! Aim for about two to three minutes in total for your wedding thank-you speech.

Are there any topics we should avoid?

Skip anything raunchy and avoid inside jokes (guests hate that!). This is a time to show your guests that they’re a part of your community, not to make them squirm or feel alienated. If you want to thank someone for doing something specific to help plan the wedding, tell the whole story so that everyone understands the context, don’t just mention one detail that will be meaningful to that person and no one else. Imagine giving this speech alone to your grandmother, grandfather or another older relative and you’ll understand exactly what we mean!

When should we toast?

This is really up to you and what's best for your wedding timeline, but some couples choose to make their wedding thank-you speech once the best man, maid of honor and others have made their speeches, while other couples opt to toast right before the cake cutting. The advantage of the latter is you’ll have your guests’ full attention, they won’t be tired of speeches or anxious to eat/get the party started, plus you get the added bonus of a gorgeous photo op with your cake!

Any other advice?

Yes—practice! Try to memorize the key points in your speech so that you don’t have to rely on index cards. Your guests will be more engaged and we promise, you’ll be a lot more comfortable speaking from the heart than staring down at your hands. It’s just a couple of minutes of giving thanks and praising your spouse—you’ve got this!

If you’re truly terrified of speaking to your guests, consider doing some deep breathing exercises for a few minutes before your wedding thank-you speech and using your nervous energy to help keep your speech moving along at a steady pace. And if all else fails and you find yourself freaking out, just grab the microphone for a heartfelt, two-second “Thank you, we love each and every one of you,” and your guests will understand. After all, they know you better than anyone!