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…

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

Make your Speech Great with Stories…

Whether you are a Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom and / or Bestman making that all important speech in front of family, relations and friends is a once-off occasion and daunting for a lot of people. Your audience more than likely know you pretty well, and want to hear you deliver a good speech, maybe even a great speech. Whether you deliver it before or after the meal is irrelevant (though the latter would be more preferable and indeed recommended as your audience have had their meal and are more ready to enjoy and more importantly appreciate your few words).

For the audience to enjoy and appreciate your speech, it is always a good idea to share stories about the Bride and Groom, without embarrassing them too much of course.

These stories are best researched, developed and structured days, even weeks before delivering your speech and are always better to be true stories or at least based on a true story. When they are true, they are easier remembered, easier told and the audience enjoy them more. The audience will know whether they are true or not by the way you tell them. You’re taking them on a journey, they are there and part of it with all the detail included.

It is better to tell it your way, not to copy or mimic other great story tellers that you know or would love to emulate. The audience wants to hear the real you stand up and speak to them in a polished, professional way, yet your own way. Finally, it is good too to finish the story with some form of punchline or one liner that reveals the moral of the story and advice for the Bride and / or Groom as they start their married life together.

Start thinking about good, appropriate, true stories that you mix in with your speech (two to three will suffice divided evenly between the Bride & Groom if possible). You’ll look forward to and enjoy your speech more and so too will your audience…

Before, During or After…

cheers

When should we give the speeches at our wedding, before, during or after the meal? Let’s investigate the best option!

Before the meal

Advantages:

  • All speakers can enjoy the meal
  • The speeches will be over and done with
  • They maybe shorter than normal
  • The Bestman will be have their speech out of the way
  • The Bride and the Mother of the Bride worries will be over
Disadvantages:

  • The management of the hotel may have to pay staff, waitresses and waiters more money
  • The Chef and his kitchen staff will be under pressure to manage the food quality as they will not know the duration of the speeches
  • Wedding guests will be hungry and may not give the speeches the attention they deserve with empty stomachs
  • What will the guests do to allow their meal digest?
  • What ‘transitions’ from the meal to the post-reception celebrations?

During the meal

Advantages:

  • Can deliver one to two speeches between each meal course
  • Wedding guests will give more attention to the speeches as they will have been served food
  • Will add variety to the meal
  • As waitresses and waiters clear the table and guests are waiting for their next course to be served, a speech or two could be delivered
  • Some speakers will have their speech completed and can enjoy the rest of their meal
Disadvantages:

  • The management of the hotel may have to pay staff, waitresses and waiters more money
  • The Chef and his kitchen staff will be under pressure to manage the food quality as they will not know the duration of each speech between meal courses
  • Will make for a longer meal duration
  • Speakers may not enjoy the complete meal as they wait to be called to speak
  • Guests may not be able to hear the speeches clearly as waitresses and waiters clear tables after each course and serve the next course

After the meal

Advantages:

  • It is the norm that any speeches that need to be delivered are delivered after a meal at any celebratory event
  • Wedding guests will be fully attentive to the speeches as they will have had their full meal
  • The hotel can better management their staff as when the meal has been completely served, most of the waitresses waiters can finish
  • The Chef and their staff can better manage the food as they will have a more accurate time when to serve the food and can plan accordingly
  • Better quality could possibly be delivered
Disadvantages:

  • Speakers may not have enjoyed the meal as much as they should have in the knowledge that they have yet to deliver their speech
  • Nerves for the speakers have more time to develop
  • Wedding guests may want to leave immediately after the meal, but can’t as the speeches are an important part of the wedding occasion
  • Too many speeches at the one time if they are long speeches could become difficult to listen to
  • Wedding may be anxious to get to the bar...!

Best option, probably After!

Whenever you decide to deliver your wedding speeches, prepare and deliver them well...it is a once-off, it will never happen again.