A Toast To Friday – Advice for Anyone Giving a Wedding Speech

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The wedding planners of Big City Bride manage every detail of wedding day but we do not write speeches and we do not deliver toasts. Once the microphone is in hand we can not tell you to speak louder, stop talking, or rethink the embarassing story. Public speaking is never easy and with a few cocktails prior even the best planned toast can take a slight turn for the worst. In an effort to be as thorough as possible we would love to share this candid and amazing advice from a dear friend:

If you have been asked to give a speech at a wedding, you need to read this.  If you are requesting to give a toast, you really need to read this because the expectations are even higher for you. All others — you’re excused for now, but save this because you may need it someday — and the information included here has no expiration date.
1) Speak up. Nothing will get people plowing into their salads faster than a speech they can’t hear.
2) Speak clearly and articulate.  This is not the time to sound like you’re chewing on a sock or to show off your nervous vocal pauses.  “Ummm, Nicole and I met back in college, and, ummmm, like, we…”  Salad.
3) Timing is everything. The equation for speech length is as follows, using a scale of 5-12: (delivery skill) x (quality of speech) = number of seconds you’re allowed to speak.  If you think you’re a 8 at delivery and your speech notes are a ten then go ahead and give yourself 80 seconds to do your thing. There is a bill in front of Congress to get this passed into law.
4) Check yourself and your surroundings. Check your hair, your teeth, your fly, your tie, your make-up.  Be calm, be engaging, be prepared. Can you be seen well?  If you’re using notes, know that the lighting may not be as good as it was when you wrote your speech so be sure your notes are easily readable, especially if you have/need glasses. On a related note, bring those glasses.  And just say no to having your notes on an electronic device like an iPad or worse yet, your phone.  Blech.
5) Know how to use a microphone.  If you’re not used to using one, find one and practice — especially if you want your speech to actually be heard.  Working a microphone doesn’t come naturally any more than delivering a speech to a room full of your closest loved ones along with complete strangers.  Good mic technique includes finding the distance from your mouth (which is usually about an inch!) where it produces the right volume for the room, then KEEPING IT RIGHT THERE…The. Whole. Time.  If you turn your head, the mic needs to follow, otherwise it will sound like you just got tackled mid-sentence.
6) Private jokes and rambling. If I may quote Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, “Here’s a good idea — have a point.  It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!”  Reminiscing about things and events to which guests cannot relate or where there’s no comedic value is a sure fire way to lose your audience.  “Tony, remember that time when we were at Denny’s and, that girl, what was her name? Anyway, she…”
7) Insensitive, inappropriate and off-color content.  If you’re writing your speech thinking, “Oh man I wonder if I should bring up ________.”  The answer is no.  Your loved one’s wedding day is not the time to test market your low-percentage material.
8) The crying game. Women, don’t feel obligated to cry. If you do, get a grip, take a moment to regroup. Hyperventilating through your speech isn’t going to make the video highlight reel. Gentlemen, your Man Card is not in jeopardy if you get choked up but you sure better pull through it fast!
9) Bring a drink with you. It seems like such a simple thing but many people forget to do it, especially since the mic goes in one hand and the speech goes in the other. Remember, it’s a toast, so when you’re done, don’t forget to toast!  Have that drink ready and waiting to make a seamless end to your speech.
10) Big City Bride’s Hierarchy of Wedding Speeches.  It goes like this (whenever possible): Father of the Bride, Best Man, Maid of Honor, Bride & Groom, Father of the Groom. Not everyone can have a shot at the mic. If there are too many people with something to say, open the floor at the rehearsal dinner. For some speeches, this is an even more appropriate setting.
Photo Credit: Bob & Dawn Davis Photography