We've all seen or heard of some questionable wedding speeches over the years with drunken rants, flowing off script, unprepared fumbling, and awkward 45-minute-long rambling. However, it doesn't have to be this way. While it's true, only some of us are naturally gifted speakers who can talk through things in front of a crowd. Many of us suffer from anxiety in these situations, which is understandable, so I want to guide you through writing your best wedding speech to help smooth it out for you on the day.
Whether it is your best friend's wedding, your sibling, or anyone in general, we've got solutions.
Give the audience context.
At a wedding, there's a high likelihood that some, or most, of the crowd won't know who you are, which is to be expected. To make things easier for the people you're talking to, give them some concise context on who you are to the bride, groom, or both.
One way to do this would be to discuss how you first met them and tell a funny story about them. If it's your daughter, you can start with 'As her father, I remember…" or something similar; change this to contextualize your relationship with them. You don't need to tell their life story or yours; be concise, light, and brief.
Practice for time, clarity, and brevity
Once you've written your speech, it's crucial to ensure it's brief. One easy way to keep things on track is to use your phone to time yourself. Remember that weddings run on a timeline, no one wants to be doing speeches for hours on end, nor do you want the awkward moment of being pulled down mid-speech.
As you're timing yourself, ask for their advice if you've got someone that can listen in. Sometimes you can cut pieces out and make the speech more direct and concise while keeping it time-effective.
Avoid the cliches
Sometimes, even if we can't explain it ourselves, we need to throw a classic cliche into our speech, but you don't have to. Avoid cliches in general. You don't need to rave about how beautiful the bridal party looks or thank people for being there; chances are someone else will cover it, plus it goes without saying, so don't fall into the trap of the expected cliches.
Instead of cliches, focus on original content: speak from the heart and be specific to the wedding, the individuals, the vendors, or the guests, whatever it is that you might be referencing.
If you're having trouble finding ideas, there are literally thousands of online resources you can steal bits from or take inspiration from, don't copy it verbatim. People will know.
Take your speech writing seriously, and know your audience
While we all want weddings to be fun, light, and love-filled, it's easy to slide into not taking your speech-writing process seriously enough. You want to keep it light, but you still need to maintain a level befitting of a meaningful life event like a wedding.
Another tip to remember when writing your speech is to remember your audience. We've all seen videos of cringe-worthy to downright offensive speeches at weddings, don't be that person. Avoid lewd, crude, or offensive references when writing your speech.
Give your speech structure
The structure is one of the main pieces of speech writing you must keep in mind when writing yours. You'll want it to go a little something like this:
Intro: Introduce yourself and give the audience context on who you are to the bride and groom. If you're up first, thank everyone for coming. If someone else has done this, you don't need to repeat what they've said.
Something Sweet: Throw in a sweet, tender, or lightly humorous story about one or both newlyweds. Keep it brief, keep it clean, and keep it short and sweet.
Kindness: This is the home stretch of your speech, so throw in some kind words, such as why you love, adore, or cherish your relationship with them or what they mean to you.
End With a Toast: The most surefire way to end a wedding reception speech well is to toast to the couple; you can't go wrong. You can toast to a long and loving marriage, the many years to come, or something similar that feels right for you.
Writing the best speech for a wedding isn't easy, but with practice it's possible.
Take your time
When you're approaching writing a speech, it's essential to know that it takes time. Unless you're already a gifted speechwriter, it's unlikely that you'll nail it on the first try. You'll want to start writing your speech months before the event you'll attend so you have time to work it through.
Leaving your speech writing until the deadline can be a recipe for disaster. Start the process early and take your time to fine-tune your speech.
The speech is going to be for the couple, not an individual.
You may have known the bride or groom first, but be sure to include both of them in your speech; they're having their lives officially become one shared experience forever, so keep that in mind when writing. It's all about being inclusive, making the bride and groom feel loved, cherished, and celebrated on one of the biggest days of their lives.