Nearly everyone at some point will have been witness to a memorable wedding speech. These precious spoken words are more often than not a big part of a Bride and Groom’s celebrations and, good or bad, are a talking point amongst family and friends for weeks to come. So it’s important you get it right. Let’s face it, you want guests to remember your speech for all of the right reasons, not the wrong ones.
Public speaking doesn’t come easily to a lot of people. It can be daunting to stand in front of a room full of people fixated on you as they hang on your every word. What could be worse than delivering the punch line of your best joke with the sound of just a few lonely crickets offering their support whilst those sitting before you stare in bewilderment?Having been in the wedding business for more than 50 years, you can image how many speeches the team here at PRC headquarters have witnessed over their time. Fear not about your impending moment in the spotlight, we’re here to help with the best of our “Do’s” and “Dont’s” to writing a great wedding speech.
Unless you’re a Hollywood actor, the chances of you remembering your speech, especially if you’re one to get a little nervous, are slim. Write it down. Print out your speech on A4 paper or use index cards and be sure to staple them together – you don’t want play “Pick Up 52” with all eyes on you!Ask the Bride and Groom to check with the venue if they have a lectern and hands free microphone you can use. There is nothing worse than fumbling with sheets of paper as you try and flick through your notes with one hand whilst the other clumsily holds onto the microphone for dear life. A lectern will give you space to place and organise your notes and if you’re nervous with an unsteady hand, it will be less noticeable with a hands free microphone. Plus, you can always hold onto the lectern to hide any nervous shaking.
KEEP IT SHORT
Apologies in advance to all of the loving and doting fathers out there but we know once you have a microphone in hand and everyone’s full attention, you’ll want to keep talking about how wonderful your son or daughter is. And why wouldn’t you? It’s his or her wedding day and you’re as proud as punch! The important thing to remember is to keep the speech short. Very short. No, no, we’re not talking 20 minutes, we’re talking just five… OK, ten at the absolute most if you’d like to include a couple of mischievous childhood wrong doings.We once witnessed a Father of the Bride speak for 45 minutes despite the bride having insisted during the planning stages that Dad wasn’t much of a talker and would only need a few minutes allocated in the running schedule. Needless to say, Dad was promptly wound up by a member of the family upon advice from the event staff that the delicious steak he’d paid for 150 people to enjoy was about to go from medium-rare to “I need a butcher’s knife to cut this thing”.Groomsmen, you shouldn’t ignore this advice either. We’re aware many of you like to “wing it” but without something written down to keep you on track, you tend to go on, and on, with a tendency to drift off topic. You’re better to keep it short and sweet with a few humourous lines thrown in about the groom for good measure rather than have the guests willing you to wrap it up.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Remember, this is not your 15 minutes of fame. You’re there to tell a few humourous or sentimental stories of the Bride and Groom. Yes, you’ve shared many an adventure with your best friend and lived to tell the tale but you’ve been chosen to speak because of your in-depth knowledge of the Bride and Groom. Once you write your speech, re-read it and consider how many times you refer to yourself. And above all, don’t tell private “in” jokes. It doesn’t matter how hilarious you and your close group of friends think your story is, most of the guests will have no clue what you’re on about and swiftly tune out.
BREAK IT UP
For Brides and Grooms considering where to put speeches into the running schedule, try and break them up. You want to ensure you keep your guests attention so any more than 20-30 minutes of speeches will be just too much before their minds begin to wonder if they made the right choice of stiletto shoe or patterned tie. Allocate 5 minutes to each of your speakers (trust us, give them ten and they’ll speak for 20!) and throw in a 5 minute buffer, just in case. It’s a good idea to break the speeches up to a maximum of two or three at any one time. We recommend the Fathers’ first, followed by the Groomsmen and Bridesmaids and finally the Bride and Groom. Two to three sets of speeches will be much more enjoyable for your guests and ensure their attention is retained.
DON’T MAKE BEST FRIENDS WITH THE BAR BEFORE YOU SPEECH
If a shot of vodka is what you need to take the edge off and give you a little boost of confidence then go for it. But stop at one. The same goes with a casual glass of wine or beer. Throwing back that second serve of Dutch Courage can often open the doomed doors to Tipsyville, where no-one else finds your jokes funny and old Aunt Maple sits in shock with her jaw on the ground as you throw in a few colourful profanities. We do suggest though that you take a glass of champagne when you get up to speak and always remember to toast the Bride and Groom. For our dapper Best Men out there, we also recommended you offer a toast to the beautiful Bridesmaids.
THANK IMPORTANT GUESTS
Don’t forget to thank those who have contributed to the wedding and to those who have travelled distances to attend. We also recommend you mention those who have passed or who were unable to travel for whatever reason. And whilst they’re not too common these days, ensure the Best Man or MC reads any telegrams sent from family and friends unable to share your day in person (for those too young to remember, please insert “e-mail” in place of telegram)
So, remember these tips and you’ll be on track to make the final cut of the wedding video. Good luck with your preparations and of course, no pressure!