Just remember you are not alone - this is a challenge that someone at every wedding faces whether it is the best man, bridesmaid, parent or the bride and groom themselves. Preparation is the key. If you have thought about what to say and how you are going to say it, you are going to be a success. After all, everyone wants to be amused, moved and enjoy your speech (and then of course get back to enjoying themselves!).
It’s not that easy, I hear you say. What on earth do I know what to say? Okay we have put together a few tips to help you get through the wedding day speeches and make sure that you can enjoy the day:
Read other speeches: There are lots of books and websites that have copies of speeches that you can read for example:
If worst comes to worst, you can even buy prepared speeches and change them to suit your circumstances (although we would advise that you only use these to give you a feel for the sort of content and form your speech should have).
Think about your audience: How well your speech will be received will depend on the who is in the audience. You speech should be tailored to the audience and the setting. Ask yourself a few questions: who will be in the audience (if there are a lot of older people, then the rude jokes might do be quite as suitable!)? How formal is the setting? What kind of jokes/stories, if any, are likely to go down well?
What do I need to say: Depending on your role in the wedding, there are certain things that, traditionally, you are expected to say. Unless you know for sure that this wedding isn’t traditional, it is probably best to make sure that you have these things covered. You can check out the traditions here.
Use your natural talents: If you can tell a joke, do so. However, if you have been described as possibly the most unfunny person in the world, avoid trying to be a funny (some people just aren’t good at telling jokes). Take another approach, often a sincere heartfelt speech will feel more natural. The best speech will be the one you are comfortable giving.
Keep it short and sweet: Don’t talk for the sake of talking. Overstaying your welcome is one of the biggest mistakes that a speaker can make. Get across what you want to (including a joke or story or two), but then finish. Often there will be a few speakers and it is unfair on the crowd if they have to sit through a number of lengthy speeches. What starts as amusing can end up with you being clapped off the stage. I have a friend who made a thank-you speech 6 years ago that seemed like it went for over an hour and no one who was there (and even some who weren’t) have never forgotten and every time he gets up to speak everyone groans!
Use the resources available to you: Find a joke, a quote or story that breaks the ice and makes your speech entertaining. The internet is a great tool for this. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to making speeches, joke sand quotes so you are bound to be able to find something suitable to you. We found heaps here are just a few:
Another idea is to find out in history what happened on the day of the wedding or another significant day for the couple such as when they met, got engaged or were born. Again the internet saves you the hassle, try www.historychannel.com and simply type in the date you require. You will be surprised how there is nearly always something that you can use.
Make Notes: Make notes of what you are going to say or write a complete speech to bring with you. Unless you are an experienced public speaker it is probably best not to rely on your memory especially as the speeches are often late in the day and after a couple of glasses of champagne. Better to be over prepared than freeze in the spotlight and no one is going to mind if you have to read your speech.
Practice: Make sure that you practice your speech, both to check length and delivery style. Get someone to listen (but not too many as then your audience will be hearing for the second time). Often it is only when you say your speech out loud that you realise whether something sounds good or bad.
Now that you know what you are going to say, you are all set, right? Wrong - you need to think about how you are going to present the speech.
Where are the speeches going to be: If possible, find out where the speeches are going to be. Do you need a raised platform so all the guests can see you? Are you going to be heard at the back of the room. Remember, it is not only the size or layout of the room that determines whether you will be heard, it is also how many people there are in the room. The more people, the more you need to project your voice. Also remember to pronounce your words clearly and speak slowly. What ruins more speeches than anything else is a nervous speaker going too fast. Make eye-contact and look around at your audience for a few seconds before you start to speak.
Alcohol: Yes, it is probably best to avoid alcohol before speaking. While a little dutch courage might help, it is easy to go too far. However, i f the speeches are after dinner or late, don’t hold back to the point of having no fun. Just take care to watch your intake - there is nothing worse than the slurred never ending ramblings of a drunken best man!
Hydrate: Have a glass of water to hand and drink some of it before you stand up to speak. Don't be afraid to take a sip or two once you start speaking if you feel your mouth going very dry. Take a couple of deep breaths, getting a grip on your breathing will do wonders for disguising the outward signs of nerves.
Even if you forget everything you were going to say, just remember to breathe, smile, look at the audience – everyone is there to enjoy themselves and most people have been in the same position at one time or another!
Click here to read other readers' tips and tricks for speech making.