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Writing the Perfect Wedding Speech

August 28, 2018 5 Minutes

So, you need to make a speech.
You’re not really sure where to begin or what it takes to deliver a well-thought out speech, but the day is approaching, and you need to make a start. You have very little, if any experience in writing a speech, let alone public speaking. This is going to be tough. You might not want to deliver something so powerful that it would be likened to something delivered by Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, but you do know that you don’t want yours to be one of the very common, forgettable speeches, whether you are the Groom, Best Man, Father of the Bride or Father of the Groom. Or even worse, one of the ones that are remembered for being utterly dreadful and embarrassing, rife with awkward pauses, mumbling, in-jokes amongst a few people that no one else gets and more. These are some of the traits of a terrible speech. Let’s eradicate them from yours.
The opportunity to make a speech is generally a rare occurrence in a regular man’s life. Unless you are a head of state, business leader or a performer perhaps, it's ultimately a one-off occurrence, and being something that is performed so rarely, means it isn’t something we tend to practise and excel at. In the case of weddings, we hopefully get married once, are the best man once, and perhaps have a chance to do a father of the bride speech if we’re lucky enough. In the space of a lifetime, three or four speeches are not a lot, and it can be absolutely daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.
Personally, I’ve been to one too many weddings with unprepared and painful to watch speeches. I don’t want you to be another one on that list, and the fact that you’re reading this assures me, neither do you. The fact is a successful speech really isn’t all that hard, it just takes a little preparation and a little work. Now you are about to prepare yourself for success in this field, and it will help you in so many more ways after the wedding, I assure you.
The 10,000 hour rule of mastery doesn’t have to apply to you performing an astounding, heart-warming, humorous and significant speech that will be memorable for all those who hear it, and delivered so well that you will never have to look back on that moment wishing you had done better, rather you will look forward to your next opportunity to command the attention of a crowd, through your voice. 
What you’ll find here is the simple guide.
The key aspects you’ll need to broach, in order, are listed below.
Preparation // give yourself ample time to prepare, the more the better. If, for example, your wedding is 12 weeks away, all you need to do is 10 minutes a day or so to knock it out of the park. So the first tip will be to segment your time. Put it into chunks working backwards from the wedding day, leaving yourself at least 3 weeks prior to the wedding day just to re-read and memorise the speech, and not worry about what to say, you’ll have plenty of other stuff to worry about in that short time to the big day.
Research // the first segment of your time should be dedicated to research and note-taking. No real structure, simply find some peaceful time (a good idea is to head out to a park or somewhere in nature, with your phone off) and jot down whatever comes to mind, any memories you want to mention, the basic structure, that sort of thing. Then once you have enough points to work off, you can start organising each point into an order and then nail down and expand on each one.
Writing // so once you have the points down, you’ll obviously need to write your speech. Points to remember here will be;
  • define your message and theme - are you going to focus on humour, more sincere and reflection based, what is going to be the theme of your speech.
  • structure - make sure you have an introduction, avoiding the cliches, a hierarchy of whom to thank, always ending on a message about your now wife and with something sincere other than a joke.
  • duration - find a sweet spot that suits yourself and your guests. For a groom, it really shouldn’t be much shorter than the ten-minute mark. 
Body // in the meat and potatoes of your speech, sincerity works best unless you’re a working comedian. For the groom, stick to the basics;
  • talk fondly of your wife
  • thank those that need to be thanked
  • throw in some humour, but don’t overdo it
You want to flow these in without it being rigid. For example, the most common mistake is making the thank you seem like a literal checklist. Throw in stories, little bits and pieces that are interesting about most people you are thanking. 
Closing // Almost always end with sincerity. It goes down the better than some of the best jokes, after all, this is a special day for the bride and groom and their families, so if your speech was majorly humorous, it’s best to pay the appropriate respect to those involved and close your speech sincerely.
Tie your central theme together and end with a toast. 
Clichés to avoid // you probably know them. Don’t do them. Don’t say the exact words, “thank you to the bridesmaids, don’t they look beautiful tonight.” We know they look beautiful, think of something else. Also, we know you feel like the luckiest man in the world tonight, avoid that too. 
You get the drift.
Refinement // Once you nailed this, you’re basically good to go. Just go through it and eliminate any excess, boil it down so it’s solid muscle and no excess fat and you’re set.
Notes about Voice // This is something never really thought about when getting ready for a wedding speech. Make sure you practice speaking to the farthest people in the room, especially with no mic or weak audio. Just keep this in mind when beginning, perhaps have your best man signal you when you start to speak up or lower depending on the situation. Speak from your chest, and speak through someone, rather than at them. 
Also, be sure to articulate. You’re naturally going to want to rush through the speech especially if you’re nervous. Make the conscious effort to enunciate words and speak with a steady rhythm.  
Memorisation // Memorise it. Practice it. You don’t need to know it word for word but you want to know it enough that you’re not stumbling or looking down at your paper too frequently. Break the speech off into chunks, record it a segment at a time, and just read and listen to it for 10-20 minutes a day.
Delivery // Here are a few tips on delivery.
  • speak up
  • make eye contact with the guests 
  • limit going up at the end of sentences, a common Australian and nervous habit
  • speak from the heart, that is, be in the moment and connect with what you’re saying
Good Luck!
If you’d like the full Wedding Speech Guide, it can be purchased here - 

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