You know if the father of the bride starts his speech with, ‘I won’t talk for too long,’ you are doomed. Children fall asleep clutching crayons from their goody-bags and Aunts melt into a Prosecco-fuelled haze. If you are an integral member of the wedding party (best man, maid of honour, mothers of the bride and groom) you will probably be expected to give a few words. If you are following a speech that wasn’t so riveting, you are going to want to inject the congregation with some energy!
Chances are you are nervous, but there are ways you can ensure you deliver a speech to be remembered. Granted, you want to do your best for the bride and groom, but you also don’t want to be three words deep and winging it. Whatever your current comfort level is with public speaking, the five tips below will help you deliver a toast that will get you a round of applause.
Make People Laugh
Chances are you didn’t do a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and, although you may find yourself hysterically funny, your jokes may be a little vulgar for everyone in the audience. Funny is your secret weapon; it will make people like you, get them on side. Do not be afraid to fall back on childhood memories that will embarrass the bride and groom. The wedding guests will 100% want to hear about the groom doing a full Britney Spears routine, or the bride’s zebra incident at the zoo.
When thinking about what anecdotes to include, consider who is in the congregation. Likelihood is there will be tiny tots, to nan’s and grandad’s. If you are worried about a potential joke, ponder if Nanny Margaret would find it funny. Nan’s are a great benchmark for jokes, use them to your advantage. Also, steer clear of any jokes that revolve around bodily secretions or certain private parts of the body, nobody will appreciate this.
Stick to the Point
As you have been invited to give a speech at the wedding, we are going to assume that you are either related to the bride and groom, or a very close friend. It goes without saying but, you should probably say something nice about the bride and the groom and their relationship. Stray away from anything negative, including their brief break-up in 2012 after an argument over the new Dyson.
Although it sounds a little militant, your job is to get up and gush about the bride and groom. Even if your new sister in law drives you a little bonkers sometimes, you are going to deliver a speech as if she has the heart of Mother Theresa.
After buttering the guests up with your wit and having them in stitches about your first impressions of the groom, bring them back down to earth. It is time to dish out the ‘aww-factor’. If related to the bride or groom, welcome the appropriate party to the family. This formal acknowledgement is very traditional, but is a fantastic touch and you can divert away from your prompt cards for this. You don’t need to use fancy language or puns. It can be nice at this point, to turn to the happy couple and address them directly. This can not only help with nerves, but can be an intimate and sentimental moment.
Do Not Wing It
Even if you have the gift of the gab, do not rely on it at someone’s wedding. Yes, you may be full of incredible speech ideas after waking up at 3am, but do not depend on this when gearing up for your toast. When you have 150 sets of eyes on you, it will be surprising how quickly your brain takes a holiday.
Write every single idea you have down and when it comes time to put the speech together, treat it like a jigsaw puzzle. Transfer your completed speech onto prompt cards, there is no shame in doing so. It’s a wedding; wine, family, emotion. These elements can even get the better of people who speak for a living, so take time to prepare and practice.
Alcohol and Five Minutes Max
It can be tempting, due to nerves, to inhale half a bottle of champagne before giving your speech. However, ideally you want to be able to read your prompt cards and speak without slurring. Two or three glasses of bubbly should be your utter maximum before your speech, you need to be coherent, but this will help take the edge of.
Furthermore, don’t do a ‘father of the bride’ and spend sixty minutes rambling. Keep things concise; about five minutes is perfect. You will be surprised how much you can speak in five minutes! If you are nervous, practice your speech with a non-wedding guest before the big day. Get your timing down to a fine art, and even try and learn some of it off by heart for a natural delivery.
Guest writer Petra Sanford
Petra is currently working with Celebrity Speakers. She is an accomplished content writer and has a background rooted in events, photography, and PR.