10 Ways To Deliver The Perfect Wedding Speech
You’ve written it, you’ve rehearsed it and now you have to deliver it. (gulp!) More people fear public speaking than being buried alive but there’s no need to panic about delivering your wedding speech. Not if you have a stiff drink (just the one) and follow this guide from Speechy expert, Heidi Ellert-McDermott.
Road test the speech
Practising in the living room in front of your nan doesn’t count. What we mean is road test the speech in situ. Get yourself to the reception venue and check out the acoustics (those posh halls are notoriously bad). There’s no use spending weeks slaving over your speech if no one can hear it so make sure there’s a mic if you need one. Wireless ones mean you can move around more but whatever type you have, position the ball of the mic below your mouth and point it towards your nose to avoid ‘popping’. And remember if you’re using a mic there’s NO NEED TO SHOUT. If you’re tackling Powerpoint or any sort of technology make sure the equipment works and give yourself time to set it up before the guests arrive on the day.
Know your speech (but use cue cards)
Practise your speech at every opportunity. If your memory’s poor the practice will help you get familiar with the flow of the speech. If your memory’s great you’re lucky. In both circumstances we advise using cue cards. Why? Weddings are weird things. Wonderful, beautiful, amazing but weird. They’ve got the power to suck all logical thought from your brain and replace it with loved-up nonsense. Cue cards give you a comfort blanket and, if you use them right, they don’t need to distract from the speech. Give copies of your cue cards to at least two trusted friends to carry on the day and take comfort in the fact you have something written down.
Crop the props
Okay so you’ve found some embarrassing photos of the groom looking like a reject but that doesn’t necessarily mean a Powerpoint presentation. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to press a button on your laptop whilst speaking…and people are watching…and you’ve got cue cards…and you’re using a microphone. A few years ago everyone felt they should use some kind of prop when giving a speech but that novelty has worn off. Instead, work out what’s genuinely funny and what relates to the people you’re talking about. If you do think photos will add to your speech but you’re not a natural powerpointer, call in the help of a glamorous assistant. Make sure you rehearse with them before the wedding and have a back-up plan in case technology fails on the day.
Pretend to be confident
Adele, Stephen Fry, Megan Fox and Michael McIntyre all suffer stage fright. If those bad boys do, it’s natural us amateurs will too. Rest assured everyone’s nervous giving a wedding speech. If they’re not they’re either an idiot or Kanye West. The key is pretending to be confident. When it’s your turn to speak, stand up and smile. Look around the room. Make eye contact with people. Then smile again. It’s amazing how contagious a smile can be.
Don’t feel you have to use big words, be overly formal and use your ‘phone voice’. Laugh, and say ‘blooming’, cry (but don’t sob). Be yourself and it will be lovely!
Slow it down
The most common mistake people make is talking too fast. Pace yourself, go about half the speed you would when talking with friends. It feels unnatural but it sounds better. Script pauses and divide your speech so you swap your cue cards when you need to take a breath. Add a pause just after any mentions of the dearly departed. Also add one when you want people to laugh. If laughter doesn’t come you can literally ask for it with a ‘you’re meant to laugh there’. That, guaranteed, will get them giggling. Once you’ve got the guests laughing, don’t, under any circumstances, talk over it. Wait till the room is quiet again before you even raise your cue cards.
Yes, we know you’ll look blooming gorgeous but what we mean is look at the right people. Make eye contact with the guests throughout your speech and look at the relevant person when you’re addressing them personally (for example, when you’re thanking them or telling them how chuffed you are that they married you). Don’t look at anyone who has their phones out and are filming you. Those people you can ignore.
Remember your audience
There’s friends, strangers, grannies, work colleagues and even, possibly, children out there. There’s the traditionalists, the edgy ones and the ones who have been on the Bucks Fizz since 10 am. It’s difficult to tailor your speech to everyone’s sensitivities but there’s one key rule and that’s getting the comedy right. Everyone expects a bit of naughtiness but nothing overtly rude, crude and certainly nothing humiliating. Avoid in-jokes or ‘you had to be there’s. Save that for the bar later.
Direct your toast
When it comes to delivering your toast, people need a bit of direction. Make clear if this is a personal toast (for example, the groom toasts his mum in the middle of his speech) by simply looking at the person it’s directed to. If you want the guests to join in a toast, you should look at the guests and tell them what to do, for example; “Please join me in drinking to my beautiful wife Laura’ and then turn towards the person or people being toasted as you name them again: “To Laura!”
Have a showstopper
Whether you’re the father of the bride, the groom or the bride, it’s nice to talk about love (kind of essential in fact). What’s really cool though is giving an illustration of it. For example, if the groom’s a rubbish cook he could reveal his first attempt at baking a Victoria Sponge for his wife (comedy or otherwise). Maybe the bride could present her husband the mythical Nando’s Black Card and a promise to keep things spicy. Or the father of the bride could give his vinyl collection to the newlyweds with the condition that they dance to one new 12 inch every week. It’s those sorts of things that turn a speech into a great one, and crucially, one that you’ll enjoy giving.