Summer is here, which means that wedding season is about to be in full swing. If any of your close friends or family members are tying the knot, jumping the broom or any other euphemism you’d like for bidding adieu to singledom, they may ask you to give a speech at the reception. Most people become so consumed with nerves when they think about public speaking, visions of high school presentation debacles dancing before their eyes, that they forget about actually writing the speech all together. Sure, preparation is one of the keys to success, but so is having great technique. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll write the quintessential wedding speech. Warning: it may be so good you will probably be asked to speak at future weddings.
Don’t mention any exes
In any context, mentioning either just-married party’s past exes is disrespectful. Even if you are telling a joke or talking about how much better their new spouse is then any or all of their exes, don’t. Mentioning any exes will inevitably make someone uncomfortable at best and fuming mad at worst, and your loved one’s wedding day shouldn’t have any awkwardness or arrests for aggravated assault associated with it.
Keep it PG to PG-13
Remember that the other guests in attendance are the couple’s closest friends and family if it’s a small wedding and can include everyone from co-workers to parents’ friends if it’s a large wedding. While everyone wants to be entertained, no one wants to be offended or disgusted. Even if you happen to be privy to the most intimate details about the couple – do not share! You can have one or two (max) PG-13 moments if necessary, but nothing more. And if all you have in your arsenal of anecdotes to draw from are stories about sexcapades or drunken debacles… that’s just sad.
Stay away from clichés
For the love of god, please, please do not quote Webster’s Dictionary’s definitions of the words “love” or “marriage.” It’s boring and lazy. You should also avoid quoting movies like The Notebook. What you should take away from this tip is to just avoid quotes in general. Quotes = bad. Original = fresh.
Make it personal
You were asked to give a speech at this wedding for a REASON. If they wanted a one-size-fits-all speech, they could have easily pulled a stranger off the street to do it. Whether you introduced the couple, or are a sibling, or have been with them throughout their relationship, make sure that it sounds like it’s coming from you. Use your voice and add in (appropriate) stories or details that everyone may not know to show how in love the couple is.
Diversify your speech
When you finally get words down on paper in front of you, go through it to make sure that you have a pretty equal ratio of heartfelt moments to funny moments. Remember: this isn’t open-mic night at the Laugh Factory and it’s not all about you. It’s about them. You want to keep everyone engaged with a few jokes and funny stories here and there, of course, but you also need to focus on your wishes for the newlyweds. You also don’t want it to get too sappy (crying is reserved for moms and dads and other elderly relatives, n0 matter how pretty you think you’ll look with mascara running down your cheeks), so make sure there’s a diverse range of emotions in the finished speech.
Don’t wing it
You obviously mean something to the couple so take the time to write something down. Even if they are only bullet points. It’s probably a given that you’ll be drinking, and you definitely want to avoid standing up there sounding like a bumbling mess. Don’t be that person, so maybe keep the raging to a minimum, at least until all your official wedding duties are over and done with. There’s no need to memorize your speech like a monologue. You can write the whole thing out and refer to it, but if you practice it a few times, you’ll be less worried about trying to remember the words and more able to inject emotion into it. Whatever your strategy, just be prepared.