This time there’s no escape!
Even if you don’t need to speak in public professionally, there will come a point where you have to address an audience. For many people this happens at a wedding. You want to be at your best for the people you love on the most important day of their lives. No pressure then…
The good news is that the ordeal needn’t be too long. As a rule, wedding speeches should never go on for longer than ten minutes. The audience will be on your side, willing you to do well. On the other hand, there are pitfalls that you must avoid.
As usual, I recommend speakers work with a structure: An Opening, which builds rapport and relaxes the audience, a Middle which contains the meat of the speech, and a Conclusion which leads up to the toast.
Usually there are three speeches – although some weddings may have more.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE
The Father of The Bride has the pleasant task of welcoming all the guests. He might talk a bit about the arrangements for the big day and of course some kind words about the Happy Couple are in order.
There is room for a couple of amusing anecdotes which should be tailored to the audience.
The speech should conclude with a toast to the Bride and Groom.
The Groom gets to reply to the Father in Law’s toast on behalf of himself and the Bride.
He should take this opportunity to thank the guests, the Best Man and anyone who has contributed to the success of the day including both sets of parents. This can be quite a long list so it needs to be broken up with a few keen observations.
There is also an opportunity to say something amusing about the Best Man who will be speaking next.
The speech should conclude with a toast – this time to the Bridesmaids.
The Best Man replies to the toast on behalf of the Bridesmaids, however he has the toughest job because a lot more is expected of him.
In effect, he introduces the Groom to the audience, dwelling on amusing incidents from his past. These should be carefully chosen so as not to cause offence and there should be no more than three in a ten minute speech.
Humour is very challenging. You need to be spot on with your timing and have all your words in the right place. Humour is to speaking what the dressage is to three day eventing. You cannot prepare too much for this moment.
The good news is that the audience are on your side. They will laugh at anything amusing, though there should be nothing too racy or controversial.
The advent of same sex marriages and the empowerment of women have created some interesting possibilities. I have known weddings where the Bride will also say a few words to break up the traditionally male dominated speeches. And in a same sex partnership, both partners may wish to say something.
Social occasions are a challenge because the speakers may not have a lot of experience. Help from an experienced speech writer and coach can be invaluable – so do contact me for more details. If the day goes smoothly and the audience enjoy the speeches, it is money well spent.