Tips for planning your wedding speech

As your wedding day starts to come together, the speeches can be a great source of stress for even the most organized, type-A bride. What’s even more unnerving is that you don’t get to choose the speech-givers based on their merit as a public speaker (your dad’s speech needs to be given by your dad, after all…)

If the thought of handing over a large portion of your day to the drunken whims of the best man and assorted relatives scares you, here are some very un-bridezilla rules we recommend your people abide by. Forward with abandon…

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1. Preparation is key.

Do yourself and everyone who has to sit through your speech a massive favour and prepare. Write the main points AHEAD of time (not the morning of the wedding) practice it in front of a trusted friend or spouse and get them to give you brutally honest feedback. Have it printed out in an easy to follow bullet-point format or flash cards. Be ready, your nerves and emotions on the day may overwhelm you. Having a few too many drinks or having to follow after someone else’s brilliant show-stopping speech can throw your confidence. Be ready, be more than ready. Know all the main points of your speech, and even more importantly, know the WHY behind what you’ll touch on. Far more important than what you actually say is why you have chosen those anecdotes or points to raise. Without carefully considering the intention behind what you are saying, the details can easily slip past you in a flustered moment. Memorize your reasons behind the speech and you’ll be able to more confidently ad lib. 

2…. But don’t over prepare 

Don’t write the whole speech out word for word and then recite it word for word in front of a live audience. Nobody wants to listen to your dissertation on love being read aloud. They want to see your face, hear your emotion and watch you actually speaking to the bride and groom. So bang out those main points and know why you’re touching on them, then let yourself speak freely to the couple from the heart. You are qualified to give this speech by virtue of your shared history with one or both of the bridal couple, so don’t forget to talk to them and keep it real. 

3. Time.

Respect the timeline. Ask the bride and groom how long they would like you to speak and stick to it. Giving your speech to someone in practice is great for working out how long your speech actually is when you’re speaking at a normal rhythm rather than just reading it back to yourself in your head. Not only will you irritate everyone by going past your allotted time, but if the kitchen timing is based on expectations of how long you’ll take, you can ruin the meal when it has to sit waiting for you. The whole kitchen staff is secretly dying a thousand deaths behind closed doors every time a speech drags on past serving hour. Nobody likes a cold meal.

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4. Keep Illustrations impactful.

Anecdotes and lengthy stories have one purpose: to draw your audience into a desired emotion. If you are going to include some old story it had better end in laughter or tears for everyone. There is no other reason to share a rambling story. If it’s a hilarious inside joke which means nothing to the rest of the audience, leave it out. Tears or laughter is your destination should you take a slow detour down memory lane. Don’t try to use anecdotes as proof to qualify your statements about the bride or groom, we all believe you already, move on to the good stuff.

5. Don’t use google for jokes.

Need I even expand on this? Everyone has heard them all. The worst is that one that ends with the punchline “and this is the last time you’ll ever have the upper hand” Cue massive groan.

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All images in this post by one of our favorite photographers and friends, Eileen of Bright Girl Photography.

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