I always feel a bit for the speech givers on the wedding day. For most people the thought of public speaking ranks pretty high on the “I’ll give that one a miss if you don’t mind” scale so first up, if the thought of giving a speech is going to mean you spend the whole of the wedding day absolutely racked with anxiety then hey, don’t do one! Check out my guide to a stress free wedding day for more on that. But if you’re going to be having speeches then here are a few tips to help you out.
I’ve been a Best Man and I’ve been a Groom so I’ve had to deliver a couple of speeches in my time and I’ve obviously seen a fair few over the last 11 years as a wedding photographer, some really good and yep, some bad, very very bad. And this isn’t just for the men. We don’t live in the 50’s anymore (thank god!) and why should it just be the men who get to give a speech!? So here are a few tips to help you all out.
I cannot emphasise how important this is. Please, if you take one tip from this, for the love of all that is holy let it be this one. Sometimes whilst chatting someone will mention to me that they are going to be free styling the speech, I kind of smile and wish them luck. “It’ll be great” I say but inside my head is screaming “Noooooooooooooooooooooo!” All the speeches that I’ve seen that have gone a bit “awry” have been free styled, made up on the spot, I’m going to trust that something will magically come to me when I stand up type speeches. Have something prepared, you’ll find yourself feeling less nervous on the day and I promise it’ll work out!
2)START PREPARING EARLY
You know when you were a kid at school and you left your homework until the night before, well let’s not do that! Sit down, preferably a couple of months before and just start writing a few notes down. Use a Notes app on your phone so that when little titbits/stories pop in to your head you can jot them down wherever you are and refer back to them. Those little ideas will start to grow and lead to new ones. I promise if you start early you’ll have at least a few ideas to get you started on writing your speech which you can gradually flesh out over time.
People will really not hold it against you if you just read it off the page, everyone’s on your side remember but it just flows a bit better if you can look up from the paper and engage a little bit with people. A good trick I found when I have had to speak publicly is to type my speech out in a large font size with the first line to each paragraph/section in red capital letters. That way if you’ve learnt your speech in the build up pretty well once you read the first line which stands out in red you should be able to look up and rely a bit on your memory to take you through that section of the speech. You can always refer back to your notes if needed.
4)REMEMBER, EVERYBODY WANTS YOU TO DO WELL
I promise, everyone in the crowd is willing you to do well. They do not want to be in an awkward room of silence anymore than you do so they will be willing you on. You don’t really even have to be that funny! people will be desperate to laugh and be desperate to help you through it and once you get that first laugh you start feeling like the next Lee Evans, but hopefully less sweaty.
5)DO NOT , I REPEAT DO NOT CROSS THAT LINE!
Boys will be boys, and yeah there’s a tradition of embarrassing the groom which is great. But honestly if you bring up their ex-girlfriend, swear, say anything really inappropriate or sexual you’ll look like an idiot and you’ll feel like an idiot and frankly, you’ll be an idiot! : ) IT NEVER WORKS!, read that line again, say it yourself, it never works. Ignore all your friends egging you on in the pub and listen to me. It’s great fun to have a laugh at the groom’s expense, the groom nearly always ends up like Dan down below with is head in his hands which is brilliant but do not cross that line, you know where it is.
6)REMEMBER TO TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW HUSBAND/WIFE
If you’re not a really luvy-duvy couple then that’s totally normal. Me and my wife aren’t really either but look, it’s your one chance to break out of the mould a little bit and say how you feel, what they mean to you. It can be easy to get caught up in all the thankyous, the bridesmaids, the parents, the venue (maybe even your photographer cough cough!) that it slips your mind to mention your new husband or wife, but it really can be beautiful when it’s done the right way, it can really mean a lot to them.
Giving a speech can be intimidating but I have to say when it’s done right it can be really beautiful, fun and memorable (and on top of that can result in some amazing photos!). The reason most people stick with this tradition, even though it’s perhaps something they’re not particularly looking forward to, is that when all is said and done they want to say thank you to the people they love, and you know what, that’s fair enough in my book. If you’re giving a speech then I hope these tips can help you on the way, you’ll be great!!
If you’re reading this then I guess you’re on the look out for a photographer for your wedding day right? Maybe you’re thinking about whether it’s a good idea to let your friend with the new camera shoot it and save a few ponds, well before you do why not take a look at this, 6 Questions You Need To Ask Before Letting Your Friend Shoot Your Wedding