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The Effectiveness of the Wedding Speech One-Liner


A one-line joke is a thing of beauty. If you can convey an idea and a witty comment within the confines of a single line of text, your audience will think they're listening to the next Oscar Wilde. But these ultra-short jokes are not easy to write - even for experienced comedians. If you are to get them right, you'll need to understand how to edit and pare back a piece of writing, while also learning how to structure these brief witticisms correctly within a wedding day speech.


By far the most powerful way to open a wedding speech is with a deft one-liner. A short, sharp wisecrack will immediately get the audience on side, allowing you to delve into more lengthy comments later. So, once you've introduced yourself to the audience, why not throw in one of these to get the ball rolling:

  1. "Firstly, if you do have a mobile phone, please leave it switched on; this speech would be improved immeasurably by a funny ringtone."

  1. "Randy is a kind, generous, handsome man who would do anything for anyone - he'll even write your best man speech without you having to ask."

  1. "Nice to see so many of you here; this is the biggest turnup since we tailored Peter's trousers."

Now, a purist might argue that a one-liner must always consist of a single sentence. However, by using punctuation correctly, you can splice the setup and the punchline into one neat strip of text, thus avoiding the wrath of any comedy narks in your audience.


When you've written your speech, you may find there are long periods of text which are rather joke sparse. If you wish to remedy this, try riffing on the material you've already created by using a one-liner to break things up a little. These breaker gags can be deployed after anything from a heart-warming anecdote or a sincere toast through to a description of the day and admin, as these examples demonstrate:

After talking about the wedding gifts
  1. "I bought Karen and Ged a Zanussi fridge freezer; I can't wait to see their little faces light up when they open it."

After complimenting the meals
  1. "I regret what I ordered for the meal, as yours looked tastier than mine - a phrase you must use sparingly now that you're married."

After announcing the imminent end of the speech
  1. "Gary thanked me for writing this speech before I'd even performed it - you're right Linda, he does suffer from premature congratulations. That's how you pronounce it, right?"

These lines don't have to come in the traditional form of punchline and setup. On many occasions, the non-funny portion of your speech can act as a setup themselves, as we'll demonstrate in the next section.


To ad-lib is to invent material on the spot, and while this is not something we'd recommend unless you're a seasoned performer, you can create the illusion of spontaneity if your acting skills are up to standard. An artificial ad-lib is supposed to look like a random comment you've just thought of in the moment, and as such they must follow a piece of non-funny text, but their length should be much shorter than a breaker, as we'll now demonstrate:

  1. "Darren's had a hard time lately, what with being in hospital so much with concussion. I wouldn't have been much of a best man if I hadn't helped him recover, so I've been bringing him meals and tidying up the place while he's been laid up."
    Possible endings
    "I stopped short of giving him a bed bath though!"
    "It's been no bother as he's only a stone's throw away - sorry, poor choice of words!"
    "I've left the other duties to Maria; we're not THAT close and I'm no good with my hands."

The key to writing these lines is to make them seem natural. When rehearsing, say them out loud in an entirely different tone to make it seem as if you genuinely have just thought of them. It's not the end of the world if they come across as preconceived, but you'll get a much bigger laugh if the audience feels like they've witnessed you think of a joke on the spot.


If you are an amateur writer, there may be certain points in your speech where the material is a little thin, or you're simply not confident in the jokes you've written. And if a joke doesn't land, you can be sure the audience will tell you through groans or heckles. It is important to have some one-liners ready for every occasion should this happen, as a witty reply will soon make everyone forget your minor missteps:

  1. "Sorry if my speech seems a little repetitive, but I'm not a writer, I don't even own a thesaurus; not only is this speech awful, it's also awful."

  1. "Now come on Liam, there's no need to heckle - this speech couldn't possibly go down as well as you."

  1. "Groaning, are you? Wow, this is just like being on O2's network; there's four bars but I'm still getting a poor reception."

  1. "This wedding has nearly cleaned Gary out. Although he has a good job, he could have sworn he was making more money in college, working for his parents as their son."

If you do need to get yourself out of a hole during your speech, always go for a quick gag rather than a long one. Lengthy anecdotes and jokes don't work well as comebacks, and despite their usual efficacy, gags which utilise the rule of three rule - where your joke ends with a list of three funny ideas - don't often play well either. Keep it to a single line and a single joke if possible, before moving your speech on swiftly to the next section.


Audiences are fickle. The last thing you say will always be the most memorable. If you want your speech to make an impact, you must therefore end it with something the guests can take away with them. A one-line joke is an excellent way to achieve this, while also giving the next speaker the chance to riff on your laughs… or panic at the prospect of following you!

  1. "I hope my father enjoyed this speech while looking down on me. He's not dead, he's over there, being condescending."

  1. "Bella and Wayne, marriage is like a bean bag. Comfortable at first, but impossible to get out of."

  1. "As befits such a romantic occasion, I shall end this speech with some touching material. (Stroke the tablecloth)."