Often the bridegroom's speech is his first major public speaking experience. That the speech is delivered among close family and friends can increase rather than reduce the stress, for expectations can be high. You see, on behalf of the newly weds on their wedding day, the groom has much responsibility to remember and acknowledge or thank a long list of people - some of whom will feel offended if they are overlooked in the heat of the moment.

It does not help, of course, that there are a lot of other things to think about at the same time - not least what the best man might say next. That the groom may have been rendered legless the previous evening at a bachelor party, and that he has probably by this time imbibed a glass or two again today, may also not help the situation.

This is not an ideal environment for making a major public speech! But it is one that has to be done. The secret is to prepare in advance, and to make very sure the speech notes are not mislaid!

Some grooms rely on their new brides to make sure their speech notes are there when needed, but that can be a risky tactic. She has other things on her mind, and few if any pockets. She is likely to pass the responsibility on to somebody else, such as the best man. And there, with him in possession of the groom's speech notes, you can see the potential seeds of the groom's destruction.

Who should the groom thank in his speech, on behalf of his new partner and himself?

Usually bridegroom's speeches follow those by the father of the bride. To maintain the flow of the ceremonies, after a few opening lines, it is usual to start by thanking the bride's father for remarks and his toast to the newly weds. It is then customary for the groom to thank the bride's father for giving his daughter away.

Next, both sets of parents should be thanked for their contributions, particularly if they provided the reception. The mother's roles should receive close attention.

Guests must be thanked for attending, and for their gifts, though the groom should be cautious about picking out some gifts to mention and not others.

Thanks should be extended to the minister or celebrant for performing the ceremonies.

The rest of the wedding party should then be acknowledged, including the best man, the bridesmaids, ushers, pages, flower girls, and so on.

Finally comes a test: can the groom remember that Aunt Flora two tables back did the flowers and Aunt Betty over there on the right did the wedding cake? He will not be forgiven if he forgets. The groom needs to make sure he is well briefed by his bride and the parents on which of the guests have made a special effort towards their wedding day. Commercial suppliers, of course, need not be mentioned.

There is much more that should be included in a successful bridegroom's speech, before culminating in toasts to the bridesmaids, parent and his new wife. Most men only ever make one groom's speech. A wise groom will offset this lack of experience by seeking guidance on what to say and how. This need not be expensive, as draft wedding speeches, toasts and tips are readily available today.