If you’ve seen the movie Bridesmaids, you’ll understand why you need to know how to write a great wedding speech. If you haven’t here’s a quick recap…
No one wants a scenario like Bridesmaids where rival bridesmaids compete for the bride’s approval by trying to give the best speech! If you can’t recite love poetry in Thai, don’t worry, your wedding speech can make a great impression if you follow these tips.
Tell A Story
Every kid at primary school learns that a story needs a beginning, middle and end. A cat sat on a mat and that was that. Sure, the cat story has a beginning, middle and end but it’s boring. What most people don’t learn in school are other important story telling devices such as:
- A narrative arc – what happens to the main character(s) (presumably the bride and groom in the case of a wedding speech) between the beginning and end. A good narrative arc shows two or three challenges the bride and groom experience on their love journey (like how they almost didn’t meet) before the climax of the story (probably the wedding day) and the end, which in the case of a wedding speech should always be ‘and they lived happily ever after’.
- Character development – one dimensional characters are boring. What light can you shed on the bride and groom to paint them in an interesting (and appropriate) light to the guests at their audience? Can you give small insights into their life as a couple to help guests better understand them and their relationship?
- Show don’t tell – rather than say “John loves Mary because she has a great sense of humour”, why not tell a story about their first trip to the cinema where they discovered a mutual appreciation of slapstick movies? It is a more engaging way to get your point across.
Your wedding speech should be relatable to the couple. It is an honour to be asked to give a speech at a wedding and it signals your importance to the couple. Repay the compliment by showing them personal attention.
There are wedding speech templates online but they are not personal. I have been to so many weddings where the Best Man asks the men in the audience to return their keys to the bride’s apartment. I thought it was hilarious the first time I heard it, mildly amusing the second time but by the 10th time I could hardly raise a smirk.
Unless you can sing like John Legend, avoid singing “All Of Me” as your ode to the bride and groom (or to your bride, or your groom). Remember, every guest at the wedding probably has a camera and will video your embarrassing moment. You could be the latest joke on Facebook quicker than you can say ‘Taylor Swift’. This day is all about the bride and groom so put them in the spotlight.
Less Is More
Winston Churchill famously apologised for writing a long speech because he didn’t have time to write a short one. It takes effort to write a pithy punchy speech but the bride and groom and their guests will thank you for it. You have a much greater chance of being listened to and remembered if you keep your speech to five minutes than ramble on for half an hour. Get the formalities out of the way and then everyone can party on.
Ask at least one honest friend to give you feedback on your speech, particularly if you are contemplating some revealing moments. Your partner is not always the best person to ask as they may share your hilarious sense of toilet humour. Consider asking another member of the bridal party to read your speech, someone who knows the couple and what will and won’t go down well.
Everyone remembers the speech you gave, not the speech you were going to give. It can be nerve racking standing up in front of a crowd so give yourself every chance of success by jotting down a few notes. On the other hand, try to avoid writing out your speech word for word then reading it. You want to make eye contact with the bridge, groom and guests and keep them engaged.
Everyone enjoys a good speech. Even if there are a few stumbles and trips along the way, wedding guests are generally in a good mood and want you to succeed. You will look and sound better if you have a smile of your face rather than look worried.
TELL A STORY: Your speech needs a beginning, middle and end
BE SPECIFIC: Use your personal experience of the subject and focus on detail
DON’T GOOGLE: A great speech is one that only you could have written
NO GIMMICKS! Lists, songs and flashcards are embarrassing and unoriginal
LESS IS MORE: Keep it under five minutes and have guests panting for more
GET FEEDBACK: Rehearse at least once with your most honest friend
DON’T MEMORISE: No one remembers a great speech that was read but everyone remembers the one that should have been
HAVE FUN! Everyone wants you to succeed
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