Writing and delivering a speech is not difficult. People do it all the time and as long as you allow plenty of time for preparation you will be fine. Spending 5 - 10 hours thinking about, writing and practising the speech would not be considered excessive, although many will manage quicker.
There is no right or long length but it is rare to hear complaints that a speech was too short, so we would err on the side of brevity. Cursory analysis we have conducted suggests that 7 minutes or so would be in the right range. Do not go for 7 minutes if you have little to say and are not a natural public speaker, yet if you know you can entertain a crowd, 10-12 minutes would not be excessive. There is no definitive answer.
The speech will usually begin with messages from absent friends and family. These should be dealt with first as they are a weak note to end on. Try to avoid reading more than 4-5 telexes if at all possible as they are pretty boring in all honesty. After that you must thank the groom for his kind words on behalf of the bridesmaids. "John, on behalf of the bridesmaids I thank you for your generous words and I would like to take this chance to re-iterate myself how fine they look today" would be a fairly typical line.
Then we're into the meat of the speech. This has to find the infamous balance between being funny for "the lads" and acceptable for the grannies. It is your choice, but we would recommend erring on the side of caution if you are in doubt about a joke or a story. This is a big day for the bride and her mother and it would be a shame to ruin it by going too far. Moreover, it's a pretty sad statement about yourself if you can not raise a laugh without being crude. Remember, this is the most sympathetic audience you will ever speak to. They are on your side and they want to be entertained. Mention how you know the groom and recount some interesting or amusing stories about him. From school, study, work, holidays, the grooms driving, fashion disasters, nights out, sporting occasions, current predicaments and past aspirations it is easy to find 3-4 stories worthy of recalling. Remember, you should only need 3-4 good stories, coupled with a one liner or two, to make a speech. Ask other friends and family members for help as they often remember worthwhile stories. Knowing what to leave out is part of the art of writing a speech. Work with 6-7 themes and pick the best 3-4. Sometimes what was funny at the time can not translate into a funny story.
If possible try to avoid mentioning
1. ex girlfriends
2. children - some believe it is unlucky (besides, "I'm sure we'll soon here the pita patter of tiny feet...." is a pretty crap line anyway)
3. swearing (it does little to enhance a speech)
4. jokes from "how to write a speech" books - they are generally very weak and unoriginal.
To finish with you should mention what a great guy the groom is, how nice the newly weds look together and how well suited they are. The best note to end on is a toast to the bride and groom. Remember, the audience will want to laugh. With plenty of preparation and practice anyone can produce a winning speech, good luck !
Despite point 4, above, if you are desperate and struggling for jokes, here are a couple of lines that may help......
The bride thinks she's off to Florida for the weekend, but all the groom actually said was that he's going to Tampa with her!
I'm married to Miss Right, I just didn't know her name was always.
Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a women's sex drive by 90%.....wedding cake.
Why do men die before their wives ? They want to.
The bride has been known to be obsessed with her weight. When a beggar walked up to her and said "I haven't eaten anything for days" she responded "God, I wish I had your will power."
Young son - "Dad, is it true that in some parts of Africa a man doesn't know his wife until he marries her ?"
Dad - "That happens in every country son."
"I never knew what real happiness was until I got married ; and then it was too late."
I haven't spoken to my wife in 18 months - I don't like to interrupt
Getting married is like going to a restaurant with friends. You order
What you want then when you see what the other fellow has ordered, you wish you had ordered that.
Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.
The trouble with being the best man at a wedding is that you never get
to prove it.
"My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met." (Rodney
"The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret" (Henny Youngman)