Your guide to creating the perfect wedding speech
Being asked to make a speech at a wedding is a huge honour, but making a speech can be nerve wracking even for the most confident of people. There is a pressure to perform well which can cause fear and anxiety, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect speech.
1. Understand your role
Understanding the relationship you have to the couple is the first step to writing your speech. A great start is to ask the person who asked you to make a speech, what they envisage your speech to contain. Traditionally thank yous to the relevant people are made as a starting point in speeches, but with a modern wedding, there is often a more blended family. Always ensure you have all the correct information on who is who and their role within the family; there is nothing more embarrassing than thanking the wrong person, or forgetting to thank someone who has been instrumental in the day’s organisation.
2. Creating the speech
One of the most commonly asked questions about wedding speeches is should they be funny. Humour is very personal and what you find funny the next person may not, so it’s very important to get humour right for the occasion. The one thing the whole wedding party has in common is the newlyweds, and the last thing you should do is embarrass either of them.
Telling a story that is relative to the couple, is a great way to engage your audience. Storytelling is an art that is easy with practice, even for those who don't find it comes naturally. Start your story by landing the audience in the action (no need for long winded backstory), and keep it interesting and flowing. If you wish to add pictures or videos to your speech, always plan these in advance and add these into the speech creation process.
Don’t worry at this stage about having a perfect, ready to go speech, what you are creating is the base to start building on, but it’s easier to edit once you’ve got a starting point than staring at a blank page!
3. Listen back to yourself
Once you have completed your first draft, video yourself (use phone, tablet or laptop), and play it back. What did you notice? Was it too long or too short? Speeches should be ten minutes long maximum, the optimum length being five to seven minutes. Now you have something to work with, you can start editing to make your speech sound exactly as you want it to. The story isn’t funny enough? Replace it with another one. The emotion isn’t deep enough? Write straight from the heart. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to see your perspective but when it comes from the heart it sounds authentic. Complete this process until you are satisfied that you have your finished speech.
4. Practice makes perfect
Once you have completed the creation stage, you need to practice to perfect your speech and deliver it well. Continue reading out loud, until you become confident that you know the content well and then condense the speech into bullet points on index cards, with a different card for each different section.This makes it easier, should you get confused on the day. Do not use an A4 piece of paper as your backup...it’s too difficult to find your place in a moment of panic, and will create additional pressure.
Now go find a live audience maybe some work colleagues, you partner, or your children and perform as though it is the wedding day and ask for feedback. By having someone else’s opinion at this stage, will alleviate some of the nerves on the day of whether people will like it or not, and bolster your self confidence.
It is often beneficial to visit the venue and practice a run through prior to the day, this includes using the equipment (should you need to), and having someone stand at the back to check that they can hear you.
5. Keeping the nerves at bay
What’s your worst fears? That on the day you’ll forget your words? You’ve written your cue cards. That no one will like your speech? You’ve already thought about how you are going to engage the audience so who wouldn’t want to hear your story? By thinking and addressing your fears in advance,you can put into place a plan that relieves pressure on the day.
There are also some practical steps you can take on the day to help with your nervousness. Ask the bride and groom to give you a ten minute warning before the speeches start. Take yourself to the bathroom or a quiet room where you will be uninterrupted, relax with your arms to the side and shake out your arms, hands and legs whilst taking in deep breaths. Do this for about a minute, then close your eyes and continue with the deep breaths for a further two minutes, all the time relaxing your body and feeling calm and peaceful in the moment. Next stand up and putting your hands on your hips, legs slightly apart in the Wonder Woman Power Pose for two minutes, this will decrease your stress and increase your self confidence. Watch expert Amy Cuddy’s video on Power Poses for more details https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4ACeoqEjeA
During the time in the run up to the wedding, use these practical relaxation tips whenever you get stressed or anxious as practice for the day.
6. And lastly
You are all prepped and ready to go on the big day. By following the guidelines above you can make a beautiful memorable speech that will be gratefully received by the happy couple. But if the nerves start to hit, follow the plan and
Do not decide to drink excessive alcohol to take off the edge as it is more likely to make you forget your words leading to increased anxiety.
Make sure you eat, practice your deep breathing to calm any nerves and keep your appetite healthy.
Do not change your mind last minute and try to create a new speech spontaneously.
Enjoy the experience...you’ve worked hard so relax and enjoy.
Based in North Devon, covering the UK via Skype and Zoom, I am an experienced coach who specialises in Wedding speech coaching for brides, grooms, fathers of the brides, best men and bridesmaids. To see my latest Wedding speech coaching packages go to https://www.thislifebusiness.co.uk/wedding-speech-coaching