No matter where you hold your wedding reception, be it in a local village hall or a spectacular wedding castle venue, the time for speeches is always eagerly anticipated by guests and dreaded by the speech maker. The trepidation and apprehension of making a speech is probably worse than the actual act of speaking, so if the speech maker approaches the task with the thought that he is just going to wish the happy couple well, he will soon realise that the entire room is appreciative of his efforts and are enjoying his narrative.
Having the audience listening and responding to a speech will encourage the speech maker to relax, gain momentum, and actually enjoy the task he was dreading and before long he will have reached the end of his written piece and be toasting the happy couple. So how do you go about writing and successfully delivering a speech?
When you are first asked to make a speech at a wedding, you need to start by making notes and just jotting down any memories and thoughts as they arise, these can sometimes come to mind at the most unexpected moments, and so having a notebook handy may be a good idea. It is not a good idea to attempt to write your speech all in one go, jot down notes first and make a rough draft, which can then be edited until it is exactly as you would like it to be.
Once your speech is ready to deliver and you are awaiting your turn to stand and speak, try to relax and repeat the opening lines of your speech to yourself, so that you are ready to deliver it. If there is a Master of Ceremonies at the reception, he will call the room to attention and announce the speaker, if not it is the duty of the best man to do this and attention can be gained with a polite tap of a glass.
A typical wedding speech should be kept brief and try not to make it too personal, everyone enjoys a laugh during a speech but not at the expense of either the bride or groom or their family. Remember not everyone knows each other, so general amusing anecdotes are best. Try not to rush the speech, some deep breathing will allay the nerves and allow you to speak slowly and clearly.
Structure your speech so that it has a beginning such as "Ladies & Gentlemen", a middle section (the story) and a definitive end, which culminates in the toast to the happy couple. Engage your audience by looking at them, there is nothing worse for guests, than sitting near the back looking at someone standing up, mumbling inaudibly whilst looking at a crumpled piece of paper. Do not worry if you make a mistake, remember all the guests are on your side, they are there to celebrate the marriage of the happy couple not pick faults with you or your speech.
As with everything, practice makes perfect and the more you practice your speech the better the chances of you being able to stand confidently and deliver your speech like a professional. Making eye contact with your audience is crucial, try not to scan around the room, as making contact with one person at a time will make you feel more comfortable and engage the audience.
Keep the written copy of your speech handy, even though you may have practiced it to perfection, the time to stand up and make your speech can cause your nerves to get the better of you and your mind to go blank, so being able to look at your written copy will be of great assistance. Finally, relax, have fun and enjoy the day, you are there to celebrate the marriage of the happy couple along with everyone else, making a speech for them is an honour and displays just how close you are to them.
If tradition is being observed at the wedding, there is an established order in which speeches are made and what those speeches are expected to contain. It is traditional for the speeches to be made at the end of the meal and each speaker to be introduced by either the Toast Master or Best Man. The order in which speeches are made and the conventional content is as follows;
Father of the Bride:
The father of the bride, or the person who has 'given the bride away', is the first person to take to the floor and make his speech. This speech should include him thanking everyone for attending, thanks to everyone who contributed to the day to make it such a special occasion, a welcome to the groom into the family and praise and compliments to the bride. A personal touch such as reminiscing about his little girl growing up is usually made during this speech and it ends with a toast to the bride and groom.
The Groom is the next speaker and it is usual for him to firstly thank the father of the bride for his speech, followed by him thanking the guests for attending and for the gifts. He traditionally, then thanks both sets of parents and turns his attention to his bride, whom he should always compliment and say a few appropriate words to and about. The groom then expresses his gratitude to the best man and to the bridesmaids, and ends his speech with a toast to the bridesmaids.
The Best Man:
Finally, the best man makes his speech, which is usually the longest of the speeches. He firstly thanks the groom for his speech and toast to the bridesmaids. He then turns his attention to the bride and groom, recalling amusing stories and anecdotes throughout his speech. Any cards and messages from absent friends and relatives are read out by the best man during his speech and it ends with a toast to the bride and groom.