Speeches can be one of the most moving parts of a wedding ceremony. They are an opportunity for family and close friends of the couple to share happy memories, pay tribute to the wonderful character of new spouses, and remind everyone in the room how fortunate they are to share the happy day. Speeches can also be boring, embarrassing, or both. It really can go either way! For speech that’s memorable for all the right reasons, here are 7 does and don’ts!
Do: Prepare — The best way to get comfortable speaking in public is to practice, practice, practice. Jot notes on a single piece of paper, or use index cards, and give the speech to the mirror a few times. It will help you find the right pace and rhythm, and ensure you sound relaxed and spontaneous on the day.
Don’t: Bring props — This is not the time to break out a slide show, or start showing off memorabilia from your long friendship with the happy couple. Your speech should be short and sweet, with full attention on the bride and groom. Anything else is just showboating.
Do: Let someone else put words in your mouth — Opening or closing your speech with a meaningful quote or song lyric is a lovely touch that takes the pressure off you as a speech writer. Some of the most beautiful words ever penned were written about love, so why not use them? If you’re looking for incredible love poetry try Emily Dickinson, John Donne, John Keats or Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Don’t: Tell inside jokes — The hilarious story from that one night five years back might still be funny to you and your inner circle, but it’s probably not going to raise a laugh at a wedding. Leave the “do you remember when…” for reminiscing amongst friends. If you want to tell a story or two about the couple, find something that all their family and friends can understand.
Do: Keep it family-friendly — Rude wedding speeches are a comedy staple but if you want to keep everyone smiling at the real event, avoid raunchy stories and bad language. The first reason is basic courtesy, you wouldn’t want to be embarrassed on your big day, so don’t do it to your friends. The second is that your speech will be filmed, uploaded and shared. Your off-colour anecdote could go viral by the time they’ve cut the cake, so think carefully about what you want the world to hear.
Don’t: Talk about yourself — It’s natural to want to talk about your friendship with the newlyweds but beware of making it all about you. The goal of your speech should be to celebrate the ceremony and the couple’s relationship. Think of yourself as a representative of all their friends and family, there to share happy memories and wish them well for the future.
Do: Be brief — A good speech is emotional, relevant and to-the-point. You probably have dozens of wonderful stories you could tell. Pick the best one or two, add some thoughtful comments and a quote, then propose a toast and let everyone get on with the party!
What are your most memorable wedding speech moments, good or bad? Share in the comments!