Being asked to speak at a wedding can feel daunting – whether you’re the Bride, the Father of the Bride, The Groom or the Best Man.
Here are some tips to make sure you do yourself proud on the big day!
Here are two classic ways of grabbing their attention right from the start:
(i) TELL THEM SOMETHING PERSONAL:
“[The Groom] is most [generous/kind/loving etc] person I have ever met. And I’m going to tell you why.”
(ii) START IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORY
“Sixteen years ago, [The Groom], was on holiday in the South of France with three friends when something odd happened …”
You want to end really well, so try coming back to the idea that you started with. Using the examples above, you could try:
(i) “So that’s why [The Groom] is most [generous/kind/loving etc] person I have ever met.”
(ii) “So the next time you go on holiday to the South of France with three friends, you might end up finding a fiancée!”
You don’t have to be funny. If you are naturally funny then, of course, feel free to bring the house down, but only if you find it easy. Your audience won’t necessarily expect the bride to be a stand-up comedienne. It’s your wedding day – just be genuine and mean what you say.
Ideally all ages, from the grandparents right through to young children, will find your speech funny – and not be offended. Tempting though it is to tell jokes, remember that you are not there to do a stand up routine, you are there to make the Bride and Groom’s day special. So don’t borrow jokes from the internet – the audience will spot it a mile off. If you do tell jokes, make sure they are relevant – everything in your speech must be about the Happy Couple.
1. Tell funny stories rather than jokes.
Audiences love stories – especially if they are about the Bride and Groom and show some of their character traits. You could try grabbing the audience’s attention right from the beginning by opening with a story.
2. Don’t get jokes off the internet. Make all jokes relevant.
Tempting though it is to tell a funny joke, remember that you are not there to do stand up – you are there to make the Bride and Groom’s day special. Jokes that have nothing to with them are a no-no. Everything in your speech must be about them.
3. Find the jokes or stories funny yourself.
Once you’ve planned your talk, give yourself a break and come back to your speech afresh. Are those funny jokes or stories really quite as funny with a clear head? Better to cut them out now than be left with egg on your face on the day.
4. Be age appropriate with humour.
Always ask yourself if all ages will find your speech funny. Ideally everyone from your own age group, to the Grandparents right through to young children should all be entertained.
5. Don’t laugh AT either the Bride or Groom.
Your job is to make the Bride and Groom look brilliant. With some human quirks, yes, but it is not your job to laugh AT either of them. Ever. This is their Big Day.
No inappropriate jokes about exes or the past.
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one – we’ve all been there. Just no!
6. Set up the gag well. Deliver your feedlines clearly.
As all good comedians know, if your story relies on a punchline, you must to set it up with a clear feedline. So if, for example, your punchline was: “And so if [Groom] ever needs help with a mortgage application, he’ll know who to call!” – you’ll only get a laugh if you’ve set up earlier in the story that his father-in-law was a Bank Manager. The audience would need to have heard the words BANK MANAGER very clearly. Don’t mumble your feed lines!
I’ve seen people bring out old school reports which can work well but if your speech relies on props like this – you must remember to bring them with you. There is no worse feeling than realising you’ve left your props at home. Big props require effort; ask yourself if the joke really is worth lugging around a double bass all day?!
I often hear speeches at weddings that start with “As So and so once said …”, and I think, “Yes, but what do you say?!
You can only start with a quote if it’s directly related to the Happy Couple; so, for example, you could open with: “I’d like to start with a quote: [Say the quote]. You might think that was said by Winston Churchill. In fact, it was said by [Groom] – when he was seven!”
Just tell them how you feel. If the Bride simply said, “As a child I read all the usual fairy stories. Well today, I feel like I’m starring in my own Fairy Story. Because today I know, deep in my soul, that I have found my very own Prince Charming”, I guarantee there would not be a dry eye in the room!
How long should I speak for?
I generally advise speaking for around five minutes. And once you’ve planned your speech, time yourself so you know how long it will actually take. My biggest advice here is ‘Less is More’. A really genuine two minutes is so much better than a waffley five!
And finally …
This is your wedding day. You can do exactly as you want, so enjoy it. If you want to be funny then be funny. If you want to be serious, be serious. If you want to tell the world how you feel, then do it. It’s your day.
Wedding audiences are probably the easiest in the world. They want to laugh so you don’t have to be incredible. Everyone is there to make the day special for the Happy Couple, so they are willing you to be brilliant. They really will laugh encouragingly – so chose your stories and your jokes well and have a great time.
I wish you the lots of luck and have the best day of your life!