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How to Write a Wedding Speech

Someone’s getting married! It’s wonderful – you’re celebrating a relationship with a party. There’s just one thing that’s getting in the way of having a good time.

That’s right. You’re going to have to (Jaws music please…) deliver a speech, to all to those people you’ve invited. Even thinking about it makes your gorge rise and your palms sweat.

Recognise that feeling? Maybe you’re the bride, or one of the grooms, or the father or mother of one of them. You’re happy about the event, but the thought of speaking just knots your gut.

Often, the speakers at weddings aren’t comfortable with public speaking at all.  It doesn’t help that there’s a lot riding on these speeches – the speaker wants to get it right, to honour the happy couple. And also to avoid public humiliation.

That’s enough about the problem – let’s talk about solutions.

Solution 1: Write a good speech.

Easier said than done, I know. Here are some tips.

Structure

It’s a very good idea to have some sort of organising principle for your speech, that you can build on. Three key ideas are enough. For example, you want to talk about the characteristics of the couple’s relationship, so you might decide your key points are how they’ve stood together through tough times, they appreciate each other, and they can laugh together.

For each one:

  • Write down this key idea
  • Explain what you mean (for example, when you say they appreciate each other, what do you mean by appreciate?)
  • Give some examples – tell an anecdote (see below) about them that proves your point.

Do this a few times and you’ve got a speech!

An alternative is to turn this on its head. Decide which anecdotes best illustrate what kind of people/couple they are. Then tell each story, adding what it shows, and why it’s important.

Anecdotes

  • A wedding speech is essentially a celebration of a relationship. One of the best ways to speak about this is to ‘show’ your audience who you’re talking about through anecdotes – stories about the subjects.
  • Make sure your stories both illustrate a larger point and are relevant to that point.
  • Make sure you don’t bang on too long with each one. You’ve got a captive audience – don’t abuse the privilege.
  • Don’t tell ‘in-jokes’. Again, there are heaps of people in front of you. You’ve got a responsibility to engage all of them. It’s not fair to your audience to tell a story that only a handful of listeners understand. Either offer some explanation to give everyone enough context, or don’t tell the story at all.
  • If you need to explain who you are to the audience (you might have introduced the couple at a wedding, or be a childhood friend), keep it brief, so that the focus of your speech stays where it should be.

Solution 2: Write a short speech

I mentioned (above) the captive audience – who may well also be a slightly drunk audience, depending on the order of events. For your own sanity and theirs, remember that your speech doesn’t have to be 20 minutes of careful, chronological details.

Get in, get it done, get out. Most wedding speeches can be done in between three and five minutes. If you stick to the brief (my job is to welcome guests/say how the couple met/thank people for coming/talk about the bride’s childhood), you’ll manage it.

Solution 3: Practice

At the risk of sounding like a cranky old English teacher (which to be fair isn’t that much of a stretch), PRACTICE. Procrastinating because you’re nervous won’t help.

Don’t overthink it – just say to yourself ‘I’m going to say my speech once or twice every day in the week leading up to the wedding’. Then do it.

One way to test run your delivery is to say your speech to one or two friends or relatives. Trust me, this will be just as much of a hurdle as delivering it at the wedding, so it’ll be great preparation.

Good luck!

If you’re stuck on where to start or want help with the content, or the structure, or the tone – or anything really – please get in touch to find out more about how I can help you.

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