Every wedding I go to I'm almost always behind the camera. In July I will be attending as a bridesmaid, and not only that but I've been asked to give a speech at my best friend's wedding (so I'm kind of still working).
As a videographer I am finding the speech idea particularly nerve wrecking. The speeches are in fact my favourite part of a wedding day.... if they are good.
I love editing a good speech I could literally be editing a speech I've watched for the tenth time and still laugh at it or say "awww" or "wow"! That's the kind of speech I want to write and deliver.
Now I've also seen and edited bad speeches. The kind of speech where I'm cringing and thinking "why did you say that!!!" or well "I'm going to have to edit some of this out". This is the kind of speech I want to avoid.
So I've had a think and looked back on the speeches I've loved and decided to come up with some top tips for my own speech writing and other people who have to do this scary task too. I seriously feel your pain.
1. Introduce yourself and who you are/ how you know the bride or groom? You instantly want people listening to you and not thinking "who even is that and why have they been asked to give a speech?" Keep the introduction short and sweet, while it's important to let people know who you are, they do not want your life story. AND if the bride in question is anything like my best friend then she will want the focus to mainly be on her. Obviously, the husband too, but mostly her.
2. Open with a joke. I love it when best men Google jokes because I actually love a cheesy dad joke. It really is a great ice breaker. A couple of my favourite ones I've witnessed are; "It really was an honour to be asked to be best man today, to be honest I wasn't sure if it was something I could do, but I thought I would give it a go when [GROOM] said if I did a good job today I could be best man at his next wedding". Another favourite: "As part of my research I discovered that it is traditional for me to sing the Groom's praises and tell you about his good points. Well, I'm very sorry, I can't sing, and I won't lie!" These jokes can work for bridesmaids too.
However- know your audience- not everyone appreciates a good dad joke. You could also share a funny story of the bride and groom. Just don't share anything rude that might upset parents or grandparents. And don't waffle.
3. Share a story of your friend. This again could be a funny one or it could be a lovely memory or both. It's a great way for the guests to have more of a connection and insight into the bride and groom which will make the day even more special for everyone. Best men love sharing a stag story or embarrassing stories of the groom. Bridesmaids tend to be a little less embarrassing with the story sharing. Whatever you decide your stories are stick to them and do not go off on a non-relevant tangent, it's a good way to lose your audience and maybe even have parts cut from the wedding video.
4. Depending on which side your representing (Bride or Groom)- give the story on how you met the other half. What were you first impressions? Did they wear anything unusual that stood out? Did the Bride ask you to smell your breath before she went over to speak to him? Did the groom sweat so much before they went out on the first date you had to tell him to change? Keep it quick with a positive ending- so if you weren't too sure when you first met him- you have to say you like him now. Again, stick to key points.
5. Tell a story about the couple of the day. This can be a magical story, a story that overcome obstacles or again a funny story. And yep- keep to the story, avoid plots.
(Points 3, 4, and 5 can be optional. You can pick one of them, two of them or all of them. Just make sure you .... stick to the points!)
6. Offer advice or well-wishes for the future. You are starting to wrap the speech up now from the story telling so a short little one or two sentences is more than enough. I'm not a big fan of cheesy quotes but if the couple happen to be a fan of a particular writer you could include something from their work to make it personal to them.
7. "Thanks!". Weddings are hard work and expensive. So not only give thanks to everyone for attending but also thank the Bride, Groom, parents, bridesmaids, best man, etc (depending who is giving the speech). Have names ready so you know exactly who you are thanking so it doesn't get awkward when you refer to one mother in law by her name and the other mother in law as "[BRIDE'S] mum". If there are other people giving speeches the chances are, they will be giving thanks too, the Groom will probably go into more detail, so don't feel you have to spend long on this section. Sorry to turn into Monica but keep it short, keep it sweet and wrap it up.
8. Raise a toast to the happy couple!!! Then have a drink and relax....
As I said speeches are my favourite part of a wedding so do not stress over it (I must follow this advice myself). Try not to over word it and even enjoy it. You are sharing jokes and stories, which by human nature we all love as long as they are told correctly. There is a reason you were asked to give the speech, because you really know them, and they want you to represent them and be a special part of their day.
If you are worried that you are the type of person that goes off into a tangent create a limerick, poem or follow a beat from a song to keep you on track like these amazing bridesmaids did below. Enjoy!