The job of the groom to do most of the official thanking on the day, in particular he should say:
- Thank you to the bride's father for his kind words, blessings and (where appropriate) his enormous generosity in paying for the wedding.
- Thank you to anyone else (perhaps his own family) for their financial contribution.
- Thank you to his own parents for, well, bringing him up to be an upstanding citizen.
- Thank you to everyone for accepting their invitation to the wedding and for their kind gifts.
- Thank you to his best man.
- Thank you to any ushers and other key helpers.
- A special toast on behalf of the bride and groom to the bridesmaids and pageboys.
As well as thanking everyone, the groom's speech should also have a certain entertainment value, though not to the extent that it becomes a cheap variety act.
In terms of its entertainment value, the groom's speech should fall somewhere between that of the bride's father and the best man. In terms of sensitivities, if you are a regular presenter or speaker as part of your work or perhaps a bit of a natural show-off, you might want to consider not showing off or showing up the bride's father. Wedding speeches are supposed to be sincere but entertaining, but not to the extent that it is a competition to be judged by the guests with a 'clap-o-meter'.
What Else Should You Include?
Your speech is not merely an opportunity just to thank people, and personally, address a good portion of the content of your speech to the bride's father and mother. Remember that your wife's father will (hopefully) have said what a good bloke you are in his speech, and will have ever so subtly told you that he expects you to look after her, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health and so on - you get the picture. A good chunk of your speech should therefore acknowledge your new father-in-law's speech and to take on board the points raised.
All good speeches at any occasion, whether business or pleasure, should include a healthy dose of humility and compassion for the listener. Use your speech to prove to your father-in-law (or at least say to him) that you really do care. This is a very big moment for him and his wife, and they will be very appreciative if the person to whom they are handing over their daughter expresses humbleness, caring and sensitivity.
The most entertaining speeches from grooms usually make reference to how he and his bride first met. It never ceases to amaze me how nature and random chance conspire to create a sequence of events which eventually result in a groom telling his and his wife's story at their wedding reception. Stories about how you both met, how the relationship developed, when you bought your first vacuum cleaner and so on appear to hold endless fascination for the guests - even if they already know the anecdotes. By the telling of the stories, the guests get to see 'behind the scenes' of your relationship, which like all the best TV documentaries, is absolutely fascinating.
Look to the future, your future happiness, and express how excited you are about enjoying many fantastic years together. Express your undying love directly to your new wife - telling it straight from the heart. Rehearse this bit by all means, but certainly don't read it from your notes. If your wife and your guests can see that you are truly sincere, I can promise that your speech will be a hit.