We just want to say ahead of reading this that whilst traditional wedding roles or gendered wedding terms may be used in this blog, when we say Brides or Wife, we also mean Grooms and Husband. Everyone is celebrated in my world, but for ease of writing, the blog easier to direct at only one couple. Love to all #youdontneedtoaskhere
Your wedding day is without doubt one of the biggest days in your life, but it's also one of the biggest days in your Brides too.
It's a momentous and joyful occasion, and yet for many Grooms it's a day that is significantly marred by one thing; the looming dread of having to stand up in front of their family and friends to give a speech
Like many Grooms before you, you are bound to be feeling the pressure of having to get your speech just right. At a time when you should be enjoying every moment to the full, worrying about giving your speech could mean you miss out on the excitement of the build-up of your day until it’s time for your speech.
You should be able to enjoy giving your speech rather than just trying to get through it with lunch still in your stomach? So what if this was something you actually look forward to doing?
By preparing thoroughly and fully understanding what is involved and how you are likely to feel on the day, you can turn this speech from something you may be really nervous about to something you may really enjoy. By writing your speech carefully and perfectly and learning how to control your nerves and even then using them to your advantage and getting your audience relaxing your speech can become a highlight of your day and a cherished memory for you and your Bride.
WHEN TO GIVE YOUR SPEECH?
Traditionally most speeches are done after your wedding breakfast. However, tradition is out of the window nowadays and given that you may be one Groom that is dreading the speech, you can consider bringing this forward. Many of my couples now choose to have the speeches before the wedding breakfast, meaning that you deliver your speech first so you can then relax and actually enjoy your meal, the same goes for any other speakers too.
Tradition does go out the window nowadays and in reality you can have as many as you want. I once had a wedding with 11 speeches over 1 hr 44 mins. This is not something I would recommend of course as it puts your entire timeline in all sorts of trouble, but traditionally there are three wedding speeches that occur and in this order.
First up is Father of the Bride, followed by the Groom who is in answer to the Father of the Bride, followed by the Bestman who is in answer to the Groom. In reality, your speech will be the easiest of the three because your father-in-law will have to go first to break the ice then you will just inherit a warmed up audience. Then much of your speech will be taken up by thanking people who have helped with the wedding so there is much less pressure on you to actually be funny or to think of writing something amazing. Your Bestman will give the last speech and this is one there is usually the most pressure.
GET AN EARLY START!
So we are in lockdown so now is the time to get on to this and start practising. It may have also mean that your wedding has been postponed, so if you didn’t have time to get an early start before, there is no excuse now.
Lockdown or not, there will be so many other things that will demand your attention between now and your wedding day and your speech is just one of them that needs your attention. Don't be tempted to put off preparing your speech. Whilst we are living a restricted lifestyle this is your perfect opportunity, regardless of when your wedding is, and if it was postponed this also gives the perfect topic to talk about how you both felt about having it delayed.
It is also worth saying that whilst you don’t have the pressure to create something funny, the Grooms speech is remembered for a long time to come especially by your Bride so it's worth putting in the effort to make it really good. Leaving it till the last minute or worse still just winging it on the day is often a recipe for disaster.
So when it comes to your wedding speech there is no such thing as being over prepared. Getting yourself organised early is important because it will help settle your nerves, ensure you don't forget anything important, ensure that you don't find yourself ad-libbing anything that you may later regret, give you the time and opportunity to rehearse your speech.
Your mantra should be: Prepare, Practice, Deliver!
If you practice your speech over and over again it will develop such familiarity and in term build your confidence.
SO WHAT TO DO FIRST?
So what should you be doing right now that will help focus your mind on the task ahead? The first thing to do is to start a draft plan of your speech. Write down some simple bullet points to help you start the speech
A good approach would be to divide your speech into sections so that it takes the audience on a journey for example:
Welcome your guests and thank them for joining you and your Bride on this special day.
If you have friends that were unable to attend you may want to say that they were missed today, if you have lost a loved ones, acknowledge them and do a toast to absent family or friends. (you can put this in anywhere you see fitting)
Tell the audience something about you and your Bride (see below on "what else to say")
Describe your feelings for the Bride and how beautiful she looks
Thank You’s & Gifts (will go into more detail on who to thank below)
Then you must give your Bestman a good handover, if you have a Toastmaster they can do this for you.
WHO TO THANK?
It's traditional for the Groom, on behalf of himself and his Bride to thank certain people and this could just be to say thanks, present gifts to them, or propose a toast.
You must thank your new Father-in-Law for his speech and for welcoming to you to the family. However, if they are no longer with us, then thank the person that took on that role. Thank them for taking on such an important role for the day and how important it was to your Bride. (she may want you to say something specific on her behalf, so do ask).
Thank you guests for joining you on your special day and for the gifts
Thank both sets of parents for their contribution (financial or otherwise)
Thank your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen/Bestman, Page boys, Flower girls. (present gifts if any) This could be followed up with a Toast to the Bridal party.
Thank anyone else who has helped towards the wedding. This could be making you a cake, doing flowers, helping with a DIY set up etc.
Thank Mums for their love and support (generally you would present gifts, normally in a form of a Bouquet flowers, so remember to add this to your florists order.) If you have mums and step mums, you may want to just leave this out so as not to offend anyone, or buy for them all.
Thank your lovely Bride for planning such an amazing wedding day for you and your guests, thank her for marrying you and making you the happiest man alive. Obvs! Don’t forget to toast your Bride.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU SAY?
Besides offering the essential things on the list above, this is your opportunity to sing your Brides praises. How you do this is largely depends on you how you want to come across, what you feel comfortable expressing.
You may also have to consider that if you have plus one’s amongst your wedding guests then you could consider relating back a story about you both, or an amusing incident from your dating days to give them an insight to your relationship or tell everyone of how you met. Importantly you should point out how beautiful your Bride looks stating how fortunate you feel to have met and married your soul mate, whilst also thanking your Bride for all their hard work in preparing the wedding because you know full well it probably wasn’t you that planned it all.
SOMETHING TO NOTE…
One important thing to remember is the beginning of your speech will be remembered, and the ending of the speech will be remembered, yet probably what's in the middle may not be so it's crucial to most others than your new wife. So make sure you start and end strong, and always finish with a Toast. This defined finish will bring your speech with a definite conclusion for your guests whilst giving you a smooth handover to the Bestman.
Top tip: Start your speech with “My wife and I” it will always get an immediate cheer!
YOU HAVE A DRAFT, WHAT TO DO NEXT?
So now you are armed with what to do now, what to include in your speech, when you could incorporate it into your day, so you have a scope! Now is time to write your first draft.
Now however rough of a draft your speech may look like, ask your Bride-to-be whether they want to be consulted. The speeches are one part of the wedding that traditionally does not involve the Bride so consulting with her on your speech is a great opportunity to make her feel included and score you some brownie points.
Inviting your Bride-to-be to express her views on the tone and content of your speech will make her feel like she is essential to your thinking, and prevent any regrets that you may have missed something important in your speech, whilst also reassuring her that there won't be any nasty surprises.
And when I say consult I don't mean to go through every word, just that you have to assure her that it's her big day and that you want to get it exactly right for her.
Ask her if there is any content she does or doesn't want included and maybe also ask if she would like to contribute anything to the speech, so anything that she would like said on her behalf or in fact would she like to say anything herself?
If she doesn't want to be consulted at all and wants to leave it to a complete surprise, you have free reign to write what you like but just remember to be sensitive about the content. Always worth getting someone else's opinion that you trust and importantly, unless you know for sure you have the sort of audience remember it is always far too easy to upset someone. So whatever you do, we always suggest that you leave out any potential swearing, especially if you have a videographer on hand that will record every word for you to have on record forever!
PRACTICE, PRATICE PRACTICE
Back to my mantra Prepare, Practice, Deliver. Start practising speaking out loud, and loudly, whenever you're on your own. Always worth getting a mate or a willing volunteer/s who can listen to your speech for some constructive feedback. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be when it comes to doing it.
YOUR GUESTS EXPERIENCE
Top Tip: Remember to stop talking before your audience stops listening
The speeches are always part of the day which most guests look forward to but it's just good to remember that a short speech will be more memorable will leave your audience wanting more yet a long speech might make the audience restless. It can appear quite self-indulgent if you do this and it's also unfair on the best man who is still to come he will be nervously waiting.
They say that your guests may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel, so whilst writing your speech, remember what tone you would like to take. It can be sentimental, humorous, loving or just no nonsense, and generally it will be a mix of all four, but say it in the way that makes you feel comfortable.
Finally remember that your speech is not just representing you in isolation but should represent your Wife too, so if she has decided to say a few words, which has become more common nowadays to do, then you want to make sure your speech is cohesive and avoid any repetition.
DON’T BE GENERIC
The last thing you want to do is deliver a speech that could've been given by any Groom about any Bride.
Every Groom is different and so is every Bride so you must use this to your advantage.
There may be some guests that know you, or know your wife, know you both, or possibly plus ones will not know either of you so just try and manage your speech to accommodate everyone whilst still making it personal to you and your Bride. Try to describe your relationship with your Bride, describe yourself and what the day means to you
FINDING YOUR OWN COMFORT ZONE
You know full well that practice makes perfect, especially if you're not used to public speaking. I cannot say enough how important to familiarise yourself with your speech and its delivery. Apart from a Planner, I am also a double award winning wedding Toastmaster. You would think that would make me the a dab hander at speaking, but even after years of doing weddings and knowing what to say, I still have notes to use, I still practice what I’m going to say, I still get nervous!
If you practising your speech you will grow in confidence while perfecting your own style. And don't feel you need to wait until your speech is fully written before you start practising because the sooner the better. When practising your speech think about what you are saying, how you would like to say it, consider your stance and posture, and even your body language.
You can use a range of techniques when you practice, memorise your key points, find your own style, make the mirror your friend. Learn to stand still (so many grooms really sway from side to side badly, i literally feel uncomfortable watching it), say your speech out loud, get used to your own voice, rehearse in front of other people if you can. You could even video yourself doing the speech and then watching it back so you can see if you fidget or sway or if you like the style whilst you are presenting the speech. This is one day in your life, make it count.
Top tip: If you have a photographer or videographer taking pictures of your speeches then make sure your bridal party put on their jackets for the speeches. Even if its a hot day, it would look so much better when you are formally dressed in your groomswear for your photos and video when you look back at them.
THE KING OF SPEECHES
If you have lots of swagger and you are planning on having a complex speech that would include props and videos etc, then just make sure that you are well prepared. It is a good idea to make a list of all the things that you need including a list of things that need doing the day before itself. You need to make sure that your venue can provide all the equipment needed and even test it at some point before the speech.
Don’t be shocked when I say there are more things I could go through that would take you to the next level but above are tips and hints for you to get started and maybe I'll do another blog refining the technique once you are passed this point. This will get you on right path to get your speech started.
In the meantime, enjoy putting together your speech. If you feel that you need any more help, or you even want me to watch you watch your speech via a video link, or send me a video of your doing it, just reach out. I can give you an unbiased feedback that hopefully will help you tweak it. If your left wanting to know more when we write the next one, just subscribe to our page and you’ll automatically get sent any new blogs.
Thank you to Will Stedman Photography, Will Fuller Photography, Dan Adams Photography Rob Pack PHotoraphy and Sergio Sandona Photography