It can be a nerve-wracking experience to be asked to contribute to a couple's big day with a wedding speech. If you're the maid of honor or best man at a wedding, you will probably be asked to say something about the happy couple at the reception. It can be daunting to speak at such a big occasion, but look at this speech not as a source of stress but as a chance to send the new couple on their way with good thoughts, encouragement, and maybe a little humor. Here are some tips for writing a wedding speech.
- Use what you know about the bride and groom. Chances are if you've been asked to give a wedding speech, you know at least one half of the couple very well. Use what you know about the groom or the bride to make the speech personal to you. Of course, this doesn't mean you should reveal deep, dark secrets; it just means to incorporate anecdotes or pieces of that person's life story to help the other guests get some insight into why that person means so much to you (it's probably a sentiment others in the audience share, too). As you speak about the person you know best, don't forget the other half of the couple. Use anecdotes about good times you spent together and about what your friend has said to you about his significant other. Or if you haven't gotten chance to know this other person, try to make it clear that she has had a great impact on your friend in specific ways, and say how much you're looking forward to getting to know her. Whatever the case, make the speech specific to the couple you're honoring, and use this as a chance to express your admiration, respect or other sincere feelings about them.
- Keep the focus on the bride and groom. While it's great and expected that you will refer to your own experiences with the bride and groom, make sure to keep the focus on the couple and not yourself. Sometimes, this can be a delicate balance to strike if you're speaking from the heart. Try to keep the "I's" and "me's" down to a minimum. It may help to reflect on how the couple interacts with each other, how they speak about each other and complement each other's personalities. When referring to how important the couple has been to you, focus not on how you've benefited by knowing them, but instead on all the great things they bring into their relationship with you.
- Know the audience. There are things you would say to your friends that you might not say in front of your friends and their Great Aunt Ethel. Make sure to know your audience and be respectful of their general sensibilities. You can't please everyone all the time, but use common sense and be respectful. For instance, it can be assumed a "blue" anecdote at a reception or service with religious overtones might not be a good idea. And while you should feel to include some "inside jokes" in your speech, if they apply, don't forget to catch the guests up on the situation, so they can laugh along, or at least get the basic gist of what you're talking about. It can be difficult to give a private, sincere testimonial to two people when you also have to consider a crowd that could be in the hundreds - so focus on what you want to say to the couple, but just keep in mind some basic parameters of what's appropriate for "the room," as a comic might say.
- Keep it concise. Anyone who has sat through an interminable wedding speech knows the detrimental effect they can have on an otherwise merry wedding reception. When you give a wedding speech, you definitely don't want to be rushed. You definitely want to say a lot of special things that will have meaning to the bride and groom when they look back on their day. You definitely want to help brighten the spotlight put on the newlyweds. But you don't want to go on and on and on and...on.
I don't know what the recommended length for a wedding speech is, but it may be helpful to think about overly-long speeches you've heard, and plot how to avoid those elements that seemed excessive. Also, remember that weddings are like a machine with many different components. The wedding speech is not an event unto itself, it's just one cog in the machine; it shouldn't bring the machine to a long pause (or dead stop). Instead, aim to provide a few smooth, meaningful, memorable moments that flow nicely into the meal or the toast or whatever comes next.
- Don't hesitate to use the "old reliables." Though most people appreciate the personal references in a good wedding speech, don't be afraid to also include some tried-and-true wedding speech sentiments such as wishing the couple a long, happy, healthy life, encouraging them to embrace their vows throughout their lives, or reminding them how important they are to so many of the people celebrating with them on their big day.
If you're called upon to give a wedding speech, it's natural to feel the pressure, but if you rely on what you know and what you feel about the newlywed couple and have spent some time writing out those thoughts and feelings, you'll be just fine. Mainly, remember you're special to the couple, which is why you're giving the speech, and whatever you say, they will likely appreciate your efforts for the rest of their married lives.