If you are a groom, father of the bride or best man and are getting clammy hands at the thought of public speaking, here are a few tips to help you give the perfect wedding speech.
While wedding speeches are very personal, sincere, entertaining, and often emotional, there are some things that traditionally fall to each speaker.
The father of the bride
Traditionally the first of the speeches, the father of the bride should ideally combine a little light-hearted reminiscence about the bride and her family, with a healthy dose of heart-felt sentimentality. A few amusing but not too embarrassing anecdotes will not go amiss, but there's no need to go overboard and rambling should be avoided. Overall, sincerity is the key.
Typically not the most nerve-wracking of the speeches (though many chaps find it hard to hold back the tears), the groom should thank and propose a toast to the father of the bride following his own speech. It goes without saying that a few words about the happy day and the beautiful, blushing wife should be included, and with the emotional moment out of the way, it is left to thank the best man, ushers, bridesmaids, along with any others who have helped out, giving gifts where appropriate. The groom's speech should finish with a toast to the bridesmaids.
The best man
As the final speaker, and the one expected to provide the laughs, the best man is usually the one feeling the pressure. An initial offer of thanks to the groom for his toast to the bridesmaids, the majority of the best man's speech should be given over to humour. The tricky thing is keeping the whole audience amused without offending anyone.
Funny stories about the groom and his antics are the perfect way to get the audience laughing, but try to link everything with a theme or chronology to give your speech some structure. If the groom appears whiter than white, do a little digging - friends and family will almost certainly have a few humorous moments to recount. Also remember that any 'in jokes' may require a little explanation for those guests who weren't present at the event itself.
And if you find the prospect of a solo best man's speech all too much, enlist the help of ushers or other friends who can join with their own stories, or rely on props, or even home movies, to get a laugh.
It's also important to avoid poking fun at the bride - flattery should be the order of the day. With the hard part over, it just remains to both compliment and propose a toast to the happy couple.
All in all, try to keep your speech to no more than seven minutes.
Tips for success
The key to giving a great speech is preparation. You are bound to feel a little nervous, but the better you know your stuff, the more confident you will feel. That means practising the speech out loud, both in front of a mirror and for helpful friends or relatives. Try to memorise the first few lines of the speech, and then use cards or read the remainder word for word - just remember to look up regularly to engage the audience.
It's also worth investigating the venue beforehand, so that you know where you will be standing, and can check that any props, video or microphones are working as they should.
Lastly, take a deep breath and speak slowly. Project your voice if you are not using a mic, and pause at appropriate moments. As tempting as it may seem, all your hard writing work will be wasted if you rush through your speech and the guests miss all the punchlines.
What are your top tips for giving a wedding speech? Leave your comments below...