A few weeks ago I wrote about overcoming fears of public speaking and how to be best prepared for standing up in front of a crowd at a wedding. Today I'm going to talk about the speech itself and some tips for how to get started, what to include and, more importantly, what NOT to include! The people most likely to give speeches at a wedding will be the best man, the groom, the fathers of the bride and groom (or groom and groom, or bride and bride) and sometimes the bride or maid of honour will also say a few words. If the family structure is a little different, or parents are no longer with us, the couple will usually nominate someone special from their family or a close friend to make a speech on their behalf. I'm going to focus on the best man's speech, as it is often the most memorable - sometimes for all the wrong reasons! It is really important to actually write down your speech, or keep a note of any ideas you have in advance of the big day. Trying to give an impromptu speech off the cuff is really difficult unless you are an absolute pro and can think quickly on your feet. Here are my top tips for writing the speech:
- Start a couple of weeks before the wedding so that you have plenty of time to re-write and practice.
- Print out an extra copy and give it to someone you trust or even the wedding co-ordinator, just in case yours gets mislaid during all the excitement.
- If you don't know many of the people attending the wedding, introduce yourself briefly and tell them a little about how you know the wedding couple.
- Take some time to thank the rest of the bridal party, the family and make reference to the ceremony that has just taken place.
- Talk about the couple - how well suited they are, any fond memories you have of them together. It may be a nice time to give a funny story about how they met or their engagement.
- When you are speaking about the groom, try to keep it clean. You are speaking to a wide variety of guests and while some may find the stories about the stag party hilarious, others may find it completely inappropriate. My preference is to steer away from references to exes, as the couple won't want to hear them on their big day.
- Funny stories from childhood or school are a good place to look for inspiration - they will be the most likely to suit all audiences.
- The speech should be warm and personal. If you're not known for being a joker, don't try too hard to be one as it will sound stiff and unnatural. There are lots of videos emerging online of extremely creative best man speeches, but don't feel pressured to do the same unless you really have a lot of time on your hands and a really unique idea.
- Finally, bear in mind that this will be most likely recorded, and kept forever! Think about your own wedding; if it's something you wouldn't want someone else to say about you, then leave it out!