Friday, October 1, 2010

speak easy

Last month I gave a speech at my friend’s wedding. I recall writing a panicked post about this event as it approached and I was, um, speechless. Well one sleepless night I managed to get all of my thoughts on paper in some sort of organized fashion. And I delivered the speech at the wedding as requested.

They laughed. They cried. Success, right? Tears and laughter were my goal.

But because I can’t speak in front of an audience off the cuff like the wedding belle, I really needed to prepare. So here’s my advice to all you fearful wedding speech givers out there. I’m pretty sure you won’t find this anywhere else when you google wedding toast or speech. (Trust me. I looked for this kind of guidance.)

Consider the audience you are delivering the speech to. Yes, fourth grade grammar. In other words, do you want to speak to the bride and groom directly in second person for the guests to listen in on? Or do you prefer to speak to the guests about the bride and groom in third person while the couple listens in?

Second person = you fell in love and got married.
Third person = they fell in love and got married.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it really. This is personal preference but absolutely something to think about. Ask yourself who you are addressing.

What else? If you do go the route of writing the speech in advance, write like you speak. If it’s written like a novel or textbook, I think you will lose your audience quickly.

Things that I knew I wanted to avoid… I’ve heard a lot of wedding toasts and a few stick out in my mind. Not for good reasons. Not everyone needs to prepare a speech. Some people are gifted like that. If you are not one of them, prepare something or you may end up a rambling fool. Recognize the difference between a wedding speech and a lecture or church homily. Seriously. I’ve seen it and it’s awkward! On the other end, if you haven’t prepared, it may be too short and therefore, empty. Also awkward.

And finally don’t make the speech all about you. Ok, you should probably introduce yourself somewhere throughout the speech. Obviously interject your tidbits about the couple or your perspective of their relationship. This is where the humor can come in. But I once heard a girl talk all about her and the bride’s (her sister) relationship growing up and how they weren’t actually friends and blah blah. The works. I’m pretty sure she never mentioned the groom. At all. Double Awkward!

I’m no expert on this topic but these are some points that I took into consideration when writing my speech and observing others. Overall, just speak from the heart about your bride and groom. And that’s really all you need to know!

-The perennial bridesmaid

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