6 New Year's Resolutions for Wedding Speech Success
It’s traditional to greet the New Year with a mixture of excitement and optimism. But if you’re due to give an important wedding speech in this coming year, you might just feel a bit of trepidation too.
Maybe it’s the first time you’ve spoken in front of a big group of people. Or perhaps you’re not quite sure what to say. It could just be a fear of letting people down.
Whether the wedding is just round the corner or several months away, there are some simple resolutions you can make right now that will greatly improve the chances of delivering a winning speech on the big day.
So here are 6 commitments that will put you firmly on the right track if you’re giving a wedding speech in the new year…
1) I will not leave preparations until the very last minute
Few people genuinely relish the prospect of writing a wedding speech. For many it’s a new experience and so it’s only natural to keep putting it off.
However, working on it calmly, bit by bit, over a few weeks will produce a much better result (and far less stress) than a mad dash to the finish line in the last day or two.
So try to get a first draft completed at least a month before the wedding - even if it’s not very good. It’s always much easier to get your speech into shape once you’ve got something basic to work with.
2) I promise to keep it short and sweet
The ideal length for a wedding speech is 5 - 10 minutes. Much longer and the guests may start to get restless - after all it’s not just your speech they will be expected to listen to.
It’s certainly not unheard of for a speech to go on much longer than this and still leave the guests eager for more, but it’s very rare. Play it safe - keep it short.
People speak at different rates but as a general rule if your speech is more than about 1,000 words on the page it’s likely to be running long.
3) I will not use second-hand wedding jokes
Wedding speeches - in particular the best man’s speech - are often expected to be humorous. And while there are plenty of wedding-related jokes to be found on the internet, most of them have been used so often that many guests will have heard them before.
It’s much better to derive humour from real stories and personal knowledge, than to simply recycle jokes from elsewhere (many of which are horribly out-of-date in terms of tone anyway).
If you’re not a natural comedian, don’t worry. Wry observations and gentle exaggeration - based on genuine familiarity with the people involved - is sure raise a smile among family and friends. No ‘jokes’ required.
4) I will remember to say thank you
Each of the main wedding speeches is an opportunity to thank people:
- the father of the bride thanks the guests for coming to the wedding
- the groom thanks everyone who made the day possible
- the best man thanks the bride and groom for any gifts on behalf of the wedding party
Make a list early on of everyone you need to thank - particularly if you’re the groom.
Forgetting to thank someone important on the day risks making them feel neglected - and you’ll feel bad later on when you realise your mistake.
5) I will give a speech - not a reading
No-one expects you to commit your entire wedding speech to memory. However, simply standing up and reading it word for word from a sheet of paper is unlikely to engage your audience.
The paper creates a barrier between you and the audience and reading makes it difficult to establish eye contact with people.
The answer is a small set of prompt cards you can hold easily in one hand that have an outline and any key phrases. Of course you have to be familiar with the content, but having cards will ensure you never lose your thread.
6) I will do some practice before the big day
Public speaking is not a natural or comfortable activity for most people. So it’s a good idea to practice your wedding speech out loud several times before you have to do it for real.
Either practice in front of friends or family and get some feedback, or video record yourself speaking and watch it back.
Not only will this make you more confident with the delivery, but will also help identify any potential problems with the content sooner rather than later.
So that’s my 6 New Year’s Resolutions for Wedding Speech Success!
Why don’t you write them down on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day?
Good luck and remember - the sooner you start work on your wedding speech, the better prepared you’ll be when the big day comes.