How to make sure that you deliver a great speech at a wedding…?

Large weddings are still as popular as ever with upwards of 200-300 guests still being invited by the Bride & Groom, with every wedding hotel fighting for the business, and being transformed into paradises for the happy couple and their wedding guests.

There goes with the above the pressure on wedding speakers to write and deliver memorable, appropriate and good wedding speeches that are appropriate, impressive and are memorable to the Bride & Groom and their wedding guests.

To achieve the above three criteria, your speech should be broken down into three stages:

  1. Structure / Content
  2. Writing it
  3. Delivery

Structure / Content:

Find a quite place to sit down and write down everyone and everything that need to be included and mentioned in your speech, with a specific focus on the Bride & Groom. Decide how much you want to say about everyone and everything and in what detail, always conscious of the listener.

Writing it:

Now start putting your above speech draft onto a Word Document, knowing, realizing and accepting that every word you are going to say will be on paper in front of you i.e. that you will stick to the script. Have your words in large font, 1.5 or double-spaced, paragraphed accordingly and finishing sentences on each page.

Delivery:

Finally, it is down to practicing your oration of your speech. With the speech on the table, microphone in your hand; practice your speech as if you are speaking to 5000 people and from the heart. If possible, do a pre-rehearsal too in the actual wedding venue.

Don’t underestimate the time, effort and discipline demanded of you in writing a wedding speech (indeed any speech). Start early, enjoy the process, because it will be over before you know it…

Wedding Speeches

When should the great wedding speech be delivered…?

How weddings have changed over the decades! From a handful to 400-500 invited guests; one-two to six-eight bridal party members; a simple wedding car to expensive and large wedding cars; three course meals to six course meals; one to three live bands; simple attire to colorful and flamboyant dresses, suits and attire and off-the-cuff to well-prepared wedding speeches.

Speaking of the latter, wedding speeches are still an important part of a wedding and guests do look forward to hearing them, talking about them before, during and indeed after they’ve been delivered.

We have all heard of wedding speeches delivered before the meal, during the meal and after the meal, however it is of a strong opinion that the wedding speeches should be delivered after the meal. I know that for many bridal party speakers i.e. Father of the Bride Speech, Father of the Groom Speech, Bride Speech, Groom Speech and Bestman Speech (the five main speakers), they would prefer to have the wedding speeches before the meal, so they can enjoy their meal (some of them are paying for it!). However, it is all about the invited guests and how most of them (and indeed the wedding venue staff) would prefer the wedding speeches to be delivered after the meal for many reasons, some of which include:

  • The invited guests have been fed and watered and are not listening to wedding speeches on an empty stomach (at least of food, which would be the case before the meal, though weddings today do provide light snacks upon arrival at the wedding venue)
  • Food can be cooked and served at the agreed time (introduce the wedding speeches before the meal and their could be a delay of 15 minutes to 1.5 hours, driving the kitchen staff crazy trying to keep food freshly cooked, presentable and edible)
  • The wedding speeches act as the transition from the meal to the dancing (with nothing happening after the meal, people are expecting ‘a few words’ to be shared about the Bride & Groom after which they know they can get up, move around, take a break, go for a walk, go to the bar…)

It can be difficult for parents of the Bride & Groom to speak in public, as most of them would not be used of it. So, they could, if they so wished, speak before the / their meal.

There should still be some form of formal wedding speech(es) after the meal…

Do your audience like listening to your wedding speech?

There are very few weddings that do not have some time dedicated to people at the top table to speak about or on behalf of the Bride & Groom. Some do this before the meal, some do it during the meal (between the courses) and most do it after the meal (the correct time to do it really!). The audience might be hungry before the meal, dislike being interrupted while they eat and want time to digest the meal i.e. after the meal, which is the best time to speak to them. But whenever you and / or the Bridal Party decide to speak, will your audience like listening to you?

Well, you hope they will! I guess it all depends on your speech content and how you deliver it. Have you considered the following?

  • Having all of your speech on paper
  • Using the microphone correctly
  • Speaking about the Bride & Groom in equal measure
  • Covering all the 'Thank you’ s' only once
  • Standing up
  • Not speaking over applause
  • Not saying too much
  • Not saying too little
  • Avoiding inappropriate stories, jokes or anecdotes
  • Knowing what you must say according to your title on the day
  • Enjoying it…!

The above list is far from exhaustive, there are many more things that you can do and say that makes sure that the audience enjoy your speech and remember it for a long time for the right reasons.

If your job title on the day of a wedding warrants a speech or people are expecting you to speak, do put in the effort and start this effort weeks, indeed months before the wedding day. It will be worth it. Be the one that the audience love to listen to, be the one that they envy and be the one that makes the Bride & Groom delighted that you are part of their life past, present and / or future...

 

To Use Notes or Not to Use Notes…

We all envy the speaker who can stand up and deliver a speech ‘off the cuff’! How do they / can they do it? I wish I could do that! Yes, we all do, but chances are that they have been preparing the speech for some time beforehand and know what they wanted to say, how to say it and then deliver it. Behind closed doors they were probably practicing focusing on pulling off a great performance without notes leading up to the speech delivery.

Speakers who have no notes are rare enough though. If no notes can be seen or speaking props visible, then they know there subject really well, have delivered it before and / or they are very familiar to the audience. These are exceptional people and speakers and have to be admired.

But for us people who have to speak in public very occasionally, we need to have notes or some way of remembering what we want to say and when to say it. Our audience, especially at a social occasion like a wedding, expect to see and feel more comfortable when the speaker(s) have notes in front of them. They know that they have prepared beforehand, have a script to work from and that they won’t ramble or deviate from the speech.

If you are someone who has to speak in front of family, relations and / or friends, put everything you want to say on paper, give it structure and put onto a Word Document. Decide whether you want to have everything you want to say on paper or to put your speech onto pointer notes / cards. Practice and rehearse it numerous times. Bring it with you, let the audience see it and then use it as your speaking medium to help you deliver a great speech

A long speech or a short speech…?

You have many times, some times or will some time soon hear a wedding speech from a Bestman, Father of the Bride / Groom, Bride and / or Groom. It will be either a long speech or short speech. There is never a medium length speech and you will never hear anyone say that the speech was the perfect length. It will either be too long or too short! Most of us would error on the short, don't you agree, while some will write a speech that they think is short, but to the audience / listeners it is / was too long.

So, should you write a long speech or a short speech? Well, it depends on who and what you are writing about, though for the aforementioned speakers this does not really matter. Write down everything you want to mention and speak about as headings or sections in your speech draft. Then write about them in a way that explains how you feel about them and in a way that your audience can appreciate, relate to and enjoy the way you are explaining and feeling about them.

Write to the point and don’t overdo the detail. Don't dwell too much on one person and one thing. Have variety in the speech making it interesting. Think of the five 'W's and one 'H' i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How to develop good narrative. Add body to each part of your speech and review it on paper (easier to proof read), continuing to do this until you are satisfied.

You will then question yourself, is the speech too long? You are unlikely to think the speech is too short. If you feel the speech is too long, then you have wrote too much about that particular person or that particular thing!

Rule of thumb is that your speech should be between 9-11 minutes without interruption.

Say what you want to say, it’s a once off, all of these people will never be together like this again to hear you speak about the people that are important to you in your life...