When it comes to making speeches at a wedding, the task can sometimes be daunting. With all eyes (and ears) on you, nerves can kick in. But it’s an honor few are asked to do, and with that comes great responsibility. But you don’t have to go at it alone or without any help. We connected with Holly Blum, the owner of A Speech to Remember, who works as The Word Whisperer, creating unique and customized speeches and toasts for weddings and other special occasions. Through a stress-free and collaborative process, she works with clients to transform their ideas and stories into words that fit their style and make a lasting impression.Here, she shares five tips for delivering a wedding speech to remember!
The bride and groom are counting on you to deliver that perfect balance of humor and heartfelt to wow the crowd. If you’re breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about where to begin, take a deep breath. Making a wedding speech can be a fun and rewarding process. With some advance thought and preparation, you can make sure that the words you choose will leave the newlyweds happy and the audience wanting more, not less. Here are five helpful tips to keep in mind when composing your speech.
1. Don’t procrastinate. When my father-in-law was getting re-married, my husband and brother-in-law wrote their toast on the way to the ceremony. Let’s just say the result was less than eloquent. When it’s time to write a speech, preparation is essential. It is rare to have less than one or two weeks’ notice that you will be giving a speech. Use that time to think about and carefully prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it. Give yourself some extra room for edits and rehearsals until you are 100% comfortable with the finished product.
2. Let your personality shine. Your speech should reflect who you are as a person, not who you think people expect you to be. If you’re not a naturally funny person, resist the urge to infuse your speech with jokes and one-liners. If it’s not authentic, it will fall flat. Likewise, people often feel like they need to quote inspirational passages from literature or poetry. Unless this is something you do regularly—maybe you were an English major or use quotations in your daily life—don’t feel that this makes you sound like a deeper person. In fact, sometimes it can do quite the opposite, making you seem pompous or out of touch. Staying true to who you are is definitely the way to go.
3. Select your material wisely. When choosing the stories and anecdotes to highlight in your speech, think carefully about how this information will resonate with the audience. Don’t pick obscure or embarrassing stories to share with guests. Remember, your job is to cast the bride and groom in the most flattering light possible. If you’re ever in doubt, keep this rule in mind: if you wouldn’t share it with your own grandmother, it’s best to leave it out altogether.
4. Speak with a clear head (aka sober). It’s tempting to have a couple of drinks before you give a speech to take the edge off and ease any frayed nerves. But one too many drinks before you take the microphone can quickly lead to sloppiness. Find out in advance when you will be speaking and hold off on the alcohol until after you deliver your speech.
5. Keep to the time limit. At one wedding I attended, the best man spoke for close to 15 minutes, detailing his version of a David Letterman-style “Top 10 List of Favorite Memories with the Groom.” While the sentiment was nice, after the first few memories, my attention wandered. By the end, guests were applauding because it was finally over. The best wedding speeches have a time limit of five minutes maximum. No exceptions. After you’ve said what you want to say, gracefully relinquish control of the microphone and let everyone return to the party. Trust me, everyone will thank you for keeping it short and sweet.
Everyone wants to deliver a winning speech that makes people smile and not cringe. By keeping these tips in mind, you can deliver a speech to remember instead of one people want to forget.
photo by Lucky Malone