My brother’s wedding was this past weekend and I was a bridesmaid. Being that there were only two bridesmaids, I was kind of coerced into giving a speech at his wedding (in advance!). But I was actually really excited about it! I wanted to give a killer speech. You know, one of those speeches that has everyone laughing and crying at the same time. And I also really wanted to let my brother know how much he means to me, how happy I am for him, and how much I love his new bride. For the record, I am not the greatest public speaker. Maybe I can write a speech, but the delivery… that’s a whole other story! I used to dread (DREAD!) giving speeches in high school and college. Everyone’s focus all on you. My face would turn red instantly and I would speed through the words on my prompt so I could sit back down as fast as possible. I have improved some throughout the years due to jobs that required me to command the attention of a room, but even then public speaking still gives me anxiety. I didn’t want this to be speech to be like that though. It was my brother’s wedding, a speech to my whole family and some of our closest friends. I wanted that to shine through in my words AND my delivery! And to be honest, I think it went better than I could have ever expected. 🙂
Whatever your role in the wedding, whether you’re a maid of honor, best man, bridesmaid, or maybe just a close friend or family member who wants to say a few words at the wedding, these tips will help you write and deliver your best speech possible!
Tips on Writing a Great Wedding Speech
1. Introduce Yourself. No matter how small or large the wedding is, I guarantee there is going to be at least one person there who has no clue who you are. Don’t forget your manners. Start by introducing yourself, your name, and how you’re related to the bride and/or groom.
2. Start Writing Your Speech Well in Advance. Do not wait until the night before the wedding to throw your speech together! And definitely don’t think you’re gonna wing it. Start at least 2 weeks in advance to give yourself time to think of any stories you may want to tell or things you want to express about the bride and groom. This will also give you plenty of time to fine tune your speech and fix anything that may end up sounding not quite right the more and more your read it.
3. Sprinkle in Anecdotes and a Little Humor. I recommend even starting off with a funny joke/story. Think of it as a icebreaker. It helps everyone loosen up a little (you included!) before you get really sappy plus everyone loves a good story! Throughout your speech, sprinkle in snippets of stories about the bride and/or groom (whether sweet or funny) and then tie it into something about the bride or groom today. For example, tell a story about how growing up you and the bride used to have sleepovers and talk about one day when you got married and would dream about who your grooms would be and now she’s marrying her perfect man.
4. Be Respectful of the Bride and Groom. Don’t make any mention of exes and don’t tell any stories that are going to make the bride or groom look bad or that may embarrass them. This is the most important day of their lives. If anything, tell their best stories. This is their time to shine. You are celebrating them, after all.
5. Keep in Short. These people just sat through an hour long ceremony among other things. I’m sure your speech is plenty entertaining, but you will most likely begin to lose some people’s attention if your speech is too long. Try to keep it to five minutes max. Remember there are still a few others that need to give speeches too. We may be adults, but we can all still have the attention span of a five year old at times.
Tips on Delivering a Great Wedding Speech
1. Practice, Practice, Practice! Just like those speeches you gave in high school, practice makes perfect. Read your speech over and over until you can pretty much say it without reading it. Don’t memorize it, but learn it. You want the speech to come off conversational, like you’re talking to the bride or groom because, well, you are. The best way to do this is to just continue to read through the speech until the words feel natural. Accept that a few words will change or rearrange here and there and don’t get tripped up when it happens. It doesn’t mean you messed up. Just go with it and let it flow.
2. Film Yourself. Filming yourself is one of the best ways to make your speech sound natural. I filmed myself over and over again and then played back the videos. It helped me because it really gave me the view that other people would see and I could critique myself on it. Was I actually coming across conversational or did I sound like I was reading off a piece of paper? Is that face I make or the tone I use when I make that joke awkward? The more I filmed myself and watched myself, the more natural the speech became and the more confident and comfortable I was in delivering it.
3. Maintain Eye Contact with the Bride and Groom. Yes, you have an audience, but the most important people in that audience are the people you’re speaking about and speaking to! Speak out to the wedding guests occasionally throughout your speech, but for the most part direct your words toward the bride and groom.
4. Do a Full on Dress Rehearsal. No, I’m not crazy for saying this! Remember those elementary school days when you were in plays or dance class? Dress rehearsals are actually really effective! The night before the wedding I had to try on my dress to test out a bra situation (lol!) and then I decided to throw on my shoes and accessories too and practice my speech a few last times. This totally helped! Being fully dressed in my bridesmaid attire made me feel so close to the real thing that when it actually came time for my speech I felt that much more confident.
5. Have a Cocktail. Please continue reading before you assume I am encouraging alcoholism! I am in no way, shape, or form promoting drinking BUT if a drink helps ya girl loosen up then hey have a drink to calm those nerves. But cap it off at one please (or less if necessary!). Know your limit. You don’t wanna be the sloshed bridesmaid at the wedding who gave a speech no one could make any sense of. Of course, if you’re under 21, please disregard this rule. I am not promoting underage drinking.
6. Have Fun! Above all, have fun! This is the most important day for one (or two!) of the most significant people in your life. Enjoy making them laugh, cry, and letting them know how much you love them. Guaranteed, they’ll be grateful for your words, the time you took to put them together, and the bravery you had in delivering them.
Hung and I and the Happy Couple!
Anyone else get the jitters when speaking in public? What are your tips for giving a great wedding speech? Let me know!