As a busy wedding videographer I have recorded my fair share of wedding speeches throughout Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford & Tipperary. I suppose the majority of wedding speeches have gone in one ear and out through the other, I did say “the majority”, there are certainly some speeches that have stood out and made a lasting impression. Simple short speeches with a mixture of wit and spoken from the hearth are the best, in this week’s blog we have a look at the necessary ingredients for that perfect wedding speech.
If you have never had to give a wedding speech you are probably scared out of your wits, unless of course, you have some public speaking under your belt. Even so, this is a very important speech because it is personal and will be remembered by the bride and groom for many years to come. They wouldn’t be able to forget it even if they wanted to because Drangan Video will have it captured on tape. (So, this is why you’re here, right?) You are looking for some good old fashioned advice as only we Irish can give it. Well, you’ve come to the right place so pay attention. This is your ultimate guide to the perfect wedding speeches – but first, let’s talk a bit about tradition
Traditional Order of Wedding Speeches:
Traditionally, the father of the bride is the first to speak. After that it is the father of the groom, leading up to the best man. Now, that’s tradition. However, many people don’t hold to tradition so they change up the order of who speaks when. This might be the case if the groom’s father, for example, has had a bit of experience speaking before large audiences. It would be okay for him to speak first in a case like this.
Also, in today’s culture a lot of women also like to get up there to say a thing or two, but they should never, ever go before a man. Why? According to ‘tradition,’ it is bad luck for a woman to wish the bride well before a man does. (And you know we Irish aren’t at all superstitious, now are we?) So then the traditional order goes something like this:
Father of the Bride. Father of the Groom. Best Man, who then leads the toast. Mother of the Bride. Mother of the Groom. Anyone in the bridal party who wishes to speak. Invited guests.
Fortunately, the bride and groom can pick and choose who they would like to speak, which is a good thing or it could go on for days, one toast at a time. (Remember, it’s an Irish wedding!)
Preparing Your Speech:
Before you actually sit down to begin writing, take a few notes about special moments that are significant to the bride or groom, maybe even special to them as a couple before getting married. Once you know which memories you’d like to share, it’s time to sit down to begin writing.
It is recommended that you keep your speech light and funny. Mention comical instances that will bring the crowd to laughter. Nothing is worse than a dull, monotonous wedding speech that bores listeners to death. It is even alright to embarrass one or the other of the newlyweds, or even to bring a blush to both faces. Guests will really go wild over little snippets that perhaps shouldn’t have been told in public, but hey, this is a wedding after all! And if true to Irish wedding form, some guests will have had one toast too many and may not even know what they’re laughing at. Everyone else is roaring so that’s their cue.
Practice Makes Perfect:
Once you’ve written your speech, practice, practice, practice. You are going up there cold with no notes (hopefully) and if you haven’t got it down, you are liable to forget half of what you wanted to say. First, practice by just reading it out loud over and over again, as a sort of memory tool. Listen to yourself speak. Notice your tone to see if you need to vary it from emphatic to softer as the content dictates.
Once you feel that you have it down, for the most part, it’s time to step in front of a mirror. Imagine that you are one of the guests listening to you speak. What would you think about their body language? Would you be interested enough to keep listening? Remember, you are not yourself here as you are trying to ‘hear’ your speech as if you were someone else. Once you are happy with yourself, find a friend or family member as a test audience. Have them give you honest opinions and perhaps a bit of advice. You can take it or leave it, but you just might want to really pay attention to what they are saying, because they are representative of the real wedding guests you will be speaking to. If they find it humorous and engaging, then you know you’ve got it right.
Drangan Video has been videotaping weddings for more than two decades from County Tipperary weddings to County Cork weddings, and all throughout Ireland in fact. And, after shooting thousands of wedding speeches, it is true to say that the funniest speeches are the ones that appear to be off-the-cuff with a bit of back-handed humour and some good old fashioned jibes.
I am Eamon, your videographer, and I’ve seen it all – from those who are so frightened it takes a toast before the toast to get them started to those who don’t know when to quit. My advice is to keep it light. Keep it simple and keep it funny. Make it personal to the newlywed couple and if you’re afraid, you’re not alone. Few people can get up there without a little bit of apprehension, and that is only normal. Just give it your best and be real. The bride and groom will love it because they love you and are grateful that you are there.
Good luck with your speech!