At the start of the month and I have finally found my blog writing mojo again! I want to focus on one of the biggest parts of your wedding day… the speeches! It’s safe to say that after eight years filming weddings, its often the speeches that grooms and bestmen find the most nerve wracking. Don’t get me wrong I remember the days of having to stand up in class to give a presentation and going bright red in the face and hating the squeak in my voice, why do most of us find talking in front of others so scary?
So who gives a speech traditionally at weddings? Here in the UK it often starts with the father of the Bride before leading into the Groom and ending with the Bestman, however feel free to throw tradition out of the window if you want. Have the Maid of honour of the Mother of the bride give a speech, I have seen some cracking bridesmaid speeches which usually turn into a personalised parody song for the couple! Just because it’s a formal part of your day doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it.
To try and help with those nerves, here are a few tips to keep in mind for writing a speech:
As standard most wedding co-ordinators will suggest to have your speeches after the wedding meal, and this is a great idea since your guests will be hungry and will love a chance to sit down for some delicious (and free!) food. However, if someone is particularly dreading having to stand up and talk, there is nothing wrong with getting them over and done with after you have been seated but before you eat. It’s a great excuse to keep them really short and sweet, and it means that you will be able to eat your meal in peace and quiet and actually taste that beautifully prepared meal.
In fact, short but sweet should be a key theme for all speeches. I usually suggest in my pre-wedding meetings that 5-10 minutes per person is more than enough time, anything more and your guests will start to switch off – especially if you are having more than 3 speakers. You can pack more of a punch in a short speech which will be remembered for months to come, rather than a long waffling ramble – I’m looking at you here Dads since you’re the worst culprits!
The best way to start is simply introduce yourself, you can do this through a lovely story of how you met the couple or in the groom’s case how you met your bride. Every guest in the room will have known the couple from different points in their life and relationship, this is a great chance for you to reminisce on how you met the bride or groom or simply a story about the three of you. However always remember, it’s not about you but about the couple. Rounding off your speech you should always end on a positive note, offer them some personal advice for the future if you yourself are already married. Or you can simply offer your heartfelt vision of their life together, wonder what their children might be like. And don’t forget to end on a toast!
You always want to have some humour in your speech, it’s always fantastic to hear some stories of the couple since not every guest will have grown up with them. With that being said there can be a fine line between a funny story and something that would humiliate the couple. You want them to be laughing with the room and not feel like they are being laughed at. This leads me straight into a very important piece of advice, to google or not to google… I can guarantee at every wedding there will be at least one google joke, something along the lines of starting a speech saying it shouldn’t take longer than the groom takes to make love and promptly saying cheers and sitting down to the cake is in tears (tiers) joke. Gauge your audience here, are these jokes likely to have been heard half a dozen times this year from other weddings, or is the couple one of the first in your group to get married? There is nothing wrong with a little bit of googling to get you going (sounds so wrong) but don’t rely on it for the whole thing – now here is where I’m looking at you Bestmen!
Finally, a little bit of practical advice, make sure what your reading from is clear, easy to handle and reliable. Large sheets of A4 paper all in your own handwriting can be a bit awkward to read from, especially if there is a mic to speak into as well and you want to be able to make eye contact with your audience instead of reading everything straight off the paper. Take the time to type up some small prompt cards instead and practice your speech. Last but not least, make sure you can be heard, especially if it’s a large wedding you don’t want the people at the back of the room to be switching off or calling out for you to speak up which always interrupts your flow. One of the reasons why FMP stands out on the quality of my films, is because I always provide my own small Pa system for speeches. It’s very discreet and only needs a small speaker to be sat at the back of the room, so everyone can hear. The speakers can simply pass around a handheld wireless mic, meaning there are no trailing wires if the men want to take off their jackets and for bridesmaids. It also means I can record the audio straight though from it, so its crystal clear every time!
Yikes, I didn’t realise I would end up writing such a long blog post today. Maybe I should have taken my own advice and kept it short and sweet, but there is so much to talk about when it comes to speeches. It’s an important part of your day and you should enjoy it as much as you can.