One of my last tasks as maid of honour at my sister’s wedding was to toast the bride and groom. A naturally good speech writer, I was stumped. I didn’t know how to put 23 years of sisterhood — all the fights, loving moments, and lessons learned — into words. I also wasn’t sure how to write a good wedding speech without saying that I always knew that he was The One. The truth is that I didn’t; Over the two years that my sister and her now husband were dating he grew on me and now we’re the best of friends but when they first started dating I didn’t necessarily think I’d eventually end up welcoming him into the family.
To prepare for my toast I scoured the Internet looking for wedding speech ideas and even contemplated purchasing one online. At last, it was the night before the wedding and I couldn’t procrastinate any longer. I finally sat down and wrote what I felt innately; and I came out with a fabulous speech.
Through my experience I learned a few things about approaching a wedding speech that I think can be helpful for anyone asked to speak at a wedding.
It took me so long to sit down and write my speech because I was trying to write the best wedding speech of all time. The great ideas finally started pouring out when I thought about how I really felt about my sister. Put the cliched wedding speech “must-haves” aside and speak from the heart.
Keep It Short
Everyone loves an anecdote or two but it’s easy to get carried away with stories and forget that they may not be relevant (or make sense to) half the wedding guests. Do away with inside jokes and choose one stand-out story that really defines the person you’re toasting. If the story takes too long to tell or can’t be linked to the rest of your speech, it doesn’t belong there. Wedding guests get antsy when speeches go on for too long, so cut your self off at three minutes.
Keep It Relatable
What do all wedding guests have in common? That they’re near and dear to the bride and groom. While most won’t understand inside jokes, they will love to hear details about the couple that they may not already know. Choose to tell stories about the couple that wedding guests may not know. If speaking to a large group of people isn’t your thing consider doing a narrated slide show.
Write your speech with your soon-to-be hubby (or other bridesmaids and groomsmen if you’re part of the wedding party) and deliver it together. Instead of trying to speak off the cuff organize yourself beforehand and divide up the parts of the speech so that you aren’t repeating one another.
Don’t Leave It Until The Last Minute
I don’t mean to be a hypocrite but personal experience tells me that there’s nothing you want to do less the night before a wedding than write your speech. It puts unnecessary stress on you right before the big day and makes it hard to concentrate on what you really want to say. Instead, start your speech a few months in advance. Begin by jotting down ideas and then turn those ideas into complete thoughts and concrete sentences. If you work on your speech for a few hours everyday before you know if it will be written with lots of time to spare.