I went to a wedding last weekend. The reception was a formal sit-down dinner at a nice hotel and all the traditional wedding party speeches were made. I love it when there are toasts/short speeches at the reception. It is the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together and put the moment into perspective.
When the groom’s brother got up to give his speech, however, it was a disaster. After telling everybody what a boring little kid the groom was, he said he could only think of one embarrassing story to tell. After telling said story, which was more crude than funny, the room was awkwardly silent and I’m sure that everyone was hoping the moment would pass quickly.
This experience got me thinking about the rules of writing a good wedding speech. Yes, there are rules. I think every person is different and it is important to give a speech that is true to who you are. So if you are funny, be funny. If you are sentimental, bring on the tears. But whatever your natural gifts are for public speaking, consider the following suggestions:
1- Prepare in advance. I understand that unscripted speeches seem so much more sincere and interesting, but preparation is still invaluable. You may decide to change things in the moment but give yourself plenty of time to prepare something just in case. Practice in front of a few different people who can give you advice or boost your confidence.
2. Introduce yourself. It is likely that not everyone will know who are you, so you should take a few moments to introduce yourself. Particularly if you are the best friend, this is your chance to legitimize your spot in the wedding party. After all, the bride or groom chose you for a pretty important role. Highlighting a little bit of your friendship is appropriate.
2- Share brief stories/experiences. This is a great way to show the guests a different side of the couple or give them a more intimate sneak peak. However, avoid inside jokes or sharing something too embarrassing. They may not care, but there is a good chance that most of the guests will feel awkward and uncomfortable. You don’t want to be the only one laughing. Instead, remember that whatever you share should ultimately be a compliment to the person/couple. Make them shine. Being real and genuine might feel a little uncomfortable in front of so many people, but this is your chance to break out your sentimental side and make the day memorable and special for the people you love.
3- Include a brief quote or saying about love/marriage. If you are drawing a blank on the right story to tell, try expounding a little on something someone else has written. There are a lot of quotes to be found online both funny and sentimental. Simple is usually best. Try here or here for a start. Choose wisely and remember your audience.
4- Don’t forget about the spouse. Even if you don’t know the person your friend is marrying very well, they still need to mentioned. Do your homework if necessary.
5- Be brief. The key in life is to always leave people wanting more. 2-4 minutes is best. Anything over 5 minutes is in danger of dragging on.