I don’t know about you but giving speeches is high on my Please Don’t Make Me Do It List. I dread it. In fact the general rule is if I’m speaking in public, I’m in agony. But there is one exception: when I’m a Bridesmaid I relish – yes, relish – the chance to toast the newlyweds. Why? Not only do I have LOTS of nice things to say about the happy couple, it also doesn’t hurt knowing the crowd will applaud no matter what. It’s like preaching to the choir! Seriously, if nothing else makes you feel ready to stand up in public, that fact should.
But if speech writing’s more your problem than speech giving, then you’re in luck because I’ve got the goods. As a guest and as a Bridesmaid, I’ve heard my share of wedding speeches, and I’ve definitely picked up a few tips on how to do it right.
Step one: explain why it’s time for people to listen up
Your first job as speech-giver is to introduce yourself and explain how you know the happy couple. But if you want a strong start – and you do – then add some colour by including a cute story about how you met, or by creating an air of mystery: “I might know a thing or two about the couple that you don’t…”
Step two: share the love
It’s time to let everyone know why you adore the bride, but instead of just listing a bunch of her positive traits, make it personal by telling a story that illustrates why you think she’s the best thing ever.
Since the speech is about both newlyweds, don’t ignore the groom either. Include him in the speech with a few compliments and a tale or two about why they’re so perfect for each other and why you love them together. If you don’t know him well, then don’t be lazy, go and do some research (i.e. talk to your friends and family).
Step three: wish them a happy life together
Once you’ve expressed how happy you are to be there, it’s time for the well-wishing. This is pretty self-explanatory, right? If you can’t find the right words, then look for a poem or story that expresses your feelings.
Step four: say thank you
Don’t forget to thank them for the honour of being a Bridesmaids and seeing them tie the knot.
Don’t mistake it for a hen’s night speech
Unless you want a lot awkward silence, leave the that-time-she-woke-up-in-a-gutter stories to yourself. I once went to a wedding where the groom and his best man still thought they were on their Thailand bucks trip. There were jeers, a few “love you long times” and it was all pretty “yikes” for everyone listening. While you’re keeping the newlyweds’ dubious adventures on the down low, remember exes are off limits too!
Don’t be someone you’re not
Confession time: I’m not a witty writer and I know it. If I’m lucky, you might smirk at a line or two but you won’t be rolling on the floor over anything I’ve written. I’ve tried to be clever and pithy with my words, but it always falls flat because it’s so forced. It’s unnatural. So now instead of wasting hours trying to be someone I’m not, I focus on my strengths. Likewise, when you’re writing your speech, focus on telling the story through your own voice. Don’t stress over being romantic, funny, poetic or anything that doesn’t come naturally.
Keep it short
You’re not the only one giving a speech so don’t hog the limelight. A good speech is a quick speech!