Being asked to give a speech at a wedding is a big honour, but all too often it can be seen as a big burden. It’s understandable why this is; it entails getting up in front of a crowd of people, many of whom you may not know, and feeling pressured to entertain them with a speech that’s both heartfelt and funny.
It can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.
To help you keep your cool, we at The Wedding Secret have come up with three easy tips to keep in mind when writing and delivering your speech.
1) You don’t have to magically turn into a stand-up comedian
We’ve all been to weddings where everything is going great until it comes time for speeches. All of a sudden, the room falls silent as one (or, god forbid, two) of the speakers starts rattling off a speech comprised almost entirely of bad jokes they found on the internet. At best, these jokes are cheesy and predictable. At worst, they’re misogynistic and completely inappropriate.
Surely speakers who do this must know that what they’ve written is going to go down like a lead balloon, so why do so many end up in this pitfall?
The answer probably lies in the misconception that, in order for a wedding speech to be deemed ‘good’, it must be funny. But this isn’t true in the slightest. Yes, funny – genuinely funny –speeches are a great addition to any wedding day, but if you’re not naturally funny, now is not the time to try and force it. Stick with a couple of funny-but-true anecdotes if you have them, or go down the heartfelt route.
And if you’re not comfortable with either, just say you’re honoured to be part of the day, wish the bride and groom all the very best, and propose a toast. Job done.
2) You’re not giving an Oscar’s acceptance speech
There are so many things to be said in a wedding speech that you can’t afford to waste valuable minutes listing off everyone you feel needs to be thanked. It’s bound to bore guests and it isn’t strictly necessary.
Yes, there are those who will expect to be thanked in your speeches such as the bridesmaids, ushers, best man, and whoever paid for the wedding. However, thanking people like the wedding planner and the florist is excessive and should be left out. They’ll be sent thank you cards anyway. In the same vein, though, be careful you don’t forget your ‘thank you’ list altogether!
Thank those who need to be thanked quickly at the start of your speech and then get on to the good stuff. (And by ‘good stuff’ we don’t mean bad jokes. See point 1.)
3) Remember to breathe
Sounds obvious, right? You probably even laughed when you read that point to yourself. “How could someone forget to breathe?” you might have thought to yourself.
You’d be shocked.
It’s amazing the motor functions you can suddenly lose control of when faced with the task of public speaking.
This can affect some more than others, but nerves often get the better of even the most confident people in a high-pressure scenario like giving a speech at a wedding and it’s common for those pesky nerves to encourage you to talk too quickly and to lose your breath.
The best way to pre-empt this happening to you is to work out where natural pauses come in your speech as you’re rehearsing it. Make little marks on your paper every few lines to remind yourself to take a breath or a sip of water. And try practicing speaking as slowly as possible (while still sounding natural) with the knowledge that you’ll probably speed up double-time on the day itself. These pauses may feel like aeons of silence to you, but it’ll sound perfectly normal to your audience.
We hope these little tips have done their bit to quell your wedding speech fears! For more speech ideas and tricks for getting around public speaking nerves, check out The Wedding Secret’s articles on the groom’s speech here, the best man speech here and the father of the bride speech here.
We would love to hear your comments and feedback on what you think are the most scary things about giving a speech in the comments section below. And tag us on social media @rossandrossfood with your thoughts on wedding speeches.