Wedding speeches have only two simple rules:
1) they should be brief and
2) they should be about the bride and/or groom.
Unfortunately many inexperienced wedding speech makers try to create their own guidelines and wind up irritating the happy couple, boring the guests, and embarrassing themselves. To ensure your next wedding speech is remembered for all the right reasons (and not for any social faux pas), avoid making these five common mistakes in composing and delivering your talk:
Wedding Speech Mistake #1: Discussing Only Yourself“I remember my wedding day. It was September 9, 1992, a day almost as beautiful as this one. My lovely Selma was walking down the aisle and all I could think was about the price of the eight-tiered cake we had ordered…”
Many wedding speechmakers tend to bypass the bride and groom and head right into more familiar territory: their own experiences. Not only is the resulting speech dull, it’s also highly inappropriate.
Though you absolutely may interject something of your relationship to the bride and/or groom into your talk, be sure it’s only a segue to discussing the newly joined couple.
Wedding Speech Mistake #2: Inappropriate Humour“I thought Joe would never settle down! He was always dating someone new… every time I saw him, a different gal was trying to get her claws into him. Today, I see that Kim finally did…”
Many novice speech writers forget that would-be humour can quickly go awry. What seems amusing in one situation is not particularly comedic in another. Consequently, add only very light, non-offensive humourous touches to your speech lest you offend anyone in your audience.
Wedding Speech Mistake #3: Imbibing Too Much Alcohol“Let me just take a quick nip of this stuff… man, this is good scotch, Doug… Okay, now where was I?”
Alcohol may flow freely at most wedding celebrations, but if you’re expected to make a speech, it’s essential that you curb your intake of potent libations pre-talk. Otherwise, you could wind up with a major case of “morning after guilt” the next day.
Many public speakers think that a glass of wine will “calm” them before they address a crowd, but it usually serves to meddle with their inhibitions. Save that refreshing gin and tonic until after you sit back down or risk being labelled “that inebriated man/woman who spoke.”
Wedding Speech Mistake #4: Bringing up Prior Marriages or Relationships“Hey, Ginny! This is the third marriage! Think you’ve finally gotten it right?”
Often, friends and relatives will bring up prior marriages or relationships during wedding speeches under the guise of being “witty” or familiar; however, such comments are typically met with disgust, tears, and/or hurt feelings.
Never mention the bride’s or groom’s former spouse or significant other when giving a wedding speech. Even if it’s tempting to use the subject, rest assured that it will only cause awkwardness.
Wedding Speech Mistake #5: Droning on… and on… and...“I want to be brief here because I know we all would like to eat, so I’ll just mention that…” [Continues for 10 minutes] “… and then when Jack and I were fishing one summer…” [Continues for another 5 minutes] “… so I’m really happy for these two! Cheers!”
You may have a great deal to say, but as a wedding speech maker, it behoves you to pick only one or two topics for the sake of yourself and your listeners. After all, the audience doesn’t want a lecture; instead, they want to hear you speak about the bride and groom in a positive, pithy way.
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By being pragmatic and thoughtful, you can ensure that everyone recalls you as a perfect wedding speech maker whose talk resulted in genuine delight rather than “thank goodness it’s over” applause.