How to write a Wedding Speech – A Guide for your Guest Speakers
Prior to 2020, I rarely attended the part of the wedding where speeches are given. However, this has changed as couple’s have started opting for the idea of giving speeches right after the ceremony while guests are already seated where the ceremony has taken place. In fact, the only words of wisdom I would give to couples prior to this shift (and even now!) would be that they consider what goes into the ceremony and their vows, so the same messages are not overlapping with speeches that would be given during the reception.
One thing is for certain, it’s one of the least discussed and organised part of the wedding planning process. So, to help pull a guideline together of tips and tricks, I’ve consulted David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy: a freelance writer in Ontario, to offer some advice that couples can impart on those they task with speaking at their wedding:
Your Guest Speakers
#1. Who are you? As a general rule, start by introducing yourself, and explain your relationship to the person you are giving a toast for, while keeping in mind it should be about them more than about you. You might start with some humour, but try to get right into positioning the couple: clever, shy, prankster, generous, etc.
#2. Who are you speaking to? A lot depends on the audience. There may be grandparents in the room, perhaps some young impressionable children, or even guests with sensitive religious and pollical view, so, throwing around crude language to try to be funny or to overcome nervousness is one of the worst things you can do.
#3. Be Original. Repeating corny, worn-out jokes makes the speaker appear impersonal on a very personal occasion. Guests have likely been to other weddings and have already heard everything you will have found on Google. Ideally you want to poke fun or tease the couple, but all in a very good-natured way – like a roast.
Leonhardt says that anecdotes are the key to a strong wedding speech, even for the parents. Telling stories that reveal something about the couple’s character is great meat for the speech. Stories about their journey leading up to the wedding, especially how they met, are always crowd-pleasers.
#4. Entertain. Share two or three of your best experiences with the crowd. Those are your anecdotes, and hopefully they will confirm and reinforce what you’ve already said about them. Generally, anecdotes are about embarrassing moments or impressive accomplishments. Or they might reveal some deep wisdom of the bride or groom.
#5. Your Sage Advice. The tail end of many wedding speeches is often some sage advice or words of wisdom. This is especially true if the speaker is married and can speak from experience. Most people don’t get too creative on this point. There is plenty of time-tested advice on what makes a successful marriage - Pour some water in your wine. Never go to bed angry. Don’t forget the romance.
#6. Beyond the Roast, also toast. This one can be tricky only if there is a whole lineup of speakers. After all, how many times will people want to get up and drink to the everlasting love and prosperity of the newlyweds? True, that might depend on what they have in their glasses. But if there are multiple speakers, you might want to have them coordinate who will lead a toast and who won’t.
#7. Watch the Clock. Wedding speeches can be among the most memorable parts of the day. But speeches that go on too long, can really put a damper on things. If you have good material, four to five minutes is a good length of time. If you don’t have as much to say, or if there will be several other speeches, two to three minutes will suffice. Better to be fondly remembered for saying just a few words than to be remembered with disdain for droning on.
Photo Credit: Gillian Foster Photography