I've written over a thousand wedding speeches since Bespoke Verse began in 2012 and there's never been a duffer yet (thankfully!). I've also trained as a celebrant and performed outdoor weddings so I've heard a fair few speeches too, some of which were so fantastic, I can still remember them to this day.
So here's a few of my ideas about how to write a memorable wedding speech:
- Think about the wedding speeches you’ve enjoyed and why. Was it the jokes, the emotion, the length? What about the ones you didn’t enjoy. Why was that? Some of the best speeches aren't clever or worthy of a You Tube Video, but they are special because they touch the hearts of everyone listening.
- A length of 5-10 mins is ideal. 20 minutes too long for a wedding! Time yourself.
- Avoid a chronological retelling of events and lifestories. Focus on a few key events that contain a good story to draw in your listeners. Think about what you want to say to the person you are speaking about. What do they mean to you?
- Finding a structure helps eg. ten things you didn’t know about the bride, or an alphabet about the couple, or a tour through the decades. Enlist audience participation during the speech. Guests will sit up and listen to something different.
- Try using rhyme, song, dance or visual aids if you are feeling creative. Rewrite words to a poem or song. Get help from friends if you want to put on a real performance on the day. Keeping it a surprise is key!
- Be inclusive to the whole room in your content – alluding to events not many will understand can lessen the impact of your speech. This is definitely true of stag and hen weekends!
- Mix humour and seriousness. Keep it respectful – swearing doesn’t tend to work at weddings. Showing emotion is to be encouraged not avoided. Guests love it. Amazingly, I have heard of friendships that have ended over disappointing wedding speeches, so if in doubt about a joke, don't include it.
- Thank yous can make an otherwise fabulous speech fall flat, so consider doing them at the end if possible eg. after the toast.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and work on not sounding monotone. Record yourself on your phone and play it back, Make sure you can have access to a microphone on the day. Clip together notes or they can easily get mixed up when you are nervous.
- Enlist professional help if you are stuck – a few hundred pounds invested wisely may ensure you make the speech of the night. Great speeches last longer in the memory than flowers and cakes so they are definitely worth investing in. Good luck!