Wedding Toast and Speech Writing and Delivery Tips…
What Everyone Should Know – Honest!
by Mary Flynn
In terms of planning a wedding, thousands of dollars and countless hours are attributed to every aspect of the wedding details. Yet, when it comes to speeches and toasts, often very little thought is put into what will be said. And yes, we’ve all been at that wedding – you know the one. The inebriated Best Man, when called upon to deliver his speech, (a task which he knew about well in advance) stands up, stumbles over his words and generally wings it to the dismay of all in attendance, especially the Bride and Groom. And worst of all, that wonderful “tribute” would have been captured on video.
Fear of public speaking is one of our greatest anxieties. Jerry Seinfeld once said that at a funeral, most people would rather in be in the casket than giving the eulogy. According to The Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking once ranked number one in the minds of the majority of people. Far above the fear of death and disease, comes the fear of standing in front of a crowd.
The fact is, most people are not comfortable delivering a speech and need some help with ideas, how to express and organize thoughts and some general “cheerleading”. There are web sites out there owned by professionals who will write your speech for you, using information you provide. And let’s face it, there are sensitive issues in families these days which may need to be specifically addressed. Taking advantage of this personalized approach to speech writing is a great way to minimize the anxiety. It may be the best money you’ll spend on your wedding.
Whether you plan to prepare and deliver a speech or simply wish to provide some advice to parents and members of the wedding party who are saying a few words, here are some guidelines that will help.
A Speech or Toast only needs to be from 3-5 minutes in length. With wedding toasts and speeches, even a short speech or toast will do if delivered sincerely. Speeches of approximately 4-5 minutes are usual for weddings.
Depending on the nature of your speech, start with a personal reflection or anecdote. How the bride and groom met is always a favourite. You can also use humour or a quote to get the speech or toast started.
Humour should be used in good taste. Stories must be appropriate for the audience. Remember, there may be children and grandparents in attendance. Ask someone to check your speech for unintentional double meanings and for appropriate use of humour. When in doubt regarding including a specific reference that may or may not be humorous – leave it out.
Speak in your normal voice. Try to become familiar with the place in which you will speak and practice using the microphone if possible.
Write your speech on index cards. They are less distracting than a piece of paper. Make sure to number the cards.
Practice your speech until you can deliver it with ease and until you are looking forward to delivering it! It is never a good idea to speak without any preparation. We’ve all been at weddings and witnessed that unfortunate moment!
Practice as many times as necessary to get the phrasing, the pauses and the timing exactly right. It has been said that every minute of the speech requires practicing for an hour. So, for a four minute speech, four hours of practicing is not excessive. Practice saying it in front of a friend – an excellent way to overcome your fears.
Look around the room at the audience and at the bride and groom as you speak. Eye contact is an important characteristic of a good speaker.
And finally, finish your speech with a toast, wish, blessing, congratulations, or cheers.
Have more than one drink to calm nerves beforehand. Too much alcohol will prevent you from speaking clearly and will hinder your good judgment.
Apologize for being a bad speaker or thank the audience for listening to you. Rather, assume that your audience is fortunate to have been in attendance to hear your wonderful speech.
Mention anything that is potentially embarrassing to the bride and groom or to either family. References to past relationships, marriages and indiscretions are better left to the bachelor and bachelorette parties and are inappropriate at a wedding. Again, when in doubt, leave it out.
The audience is on your side – and most of them are eternally grateful it is you up there and not them.
You will know you are prepared when you’re so comfortable that you are actually looking forward to giving the speech. (You’ll have to trust me on that one!)
One Final Note:
Don’t Be Left Speechless…Plan in Advance!
For Your Consideration…
Think about making a copy of your speech and presenting it to the Bride and Groom as a commemorative gift.
At the reception, although the Bride and Groom will be listening to you and will try to be attentive, they will definitely be preoccupied. Therefore, they may not hear everything that you say – and it is a certain fact that neither one of them will remember specific details of your speech.
Printing your speech on specialty paper and presenting it to the Bride and Groom is a gesture that will be remembered forever.
I am certain that the couple will treasure your words – after all, you have worked hard to prepare for the honour of delivering your speech. And here is a perfect opportunity to immortalize your words…