Someone asked me recently what they should talk about during their wedding speech.
Through the weddings I have photographed I’ve heard hundreds of speeches and there is indeed a formula that works well. I base these tips on bride & groom + crowd response.
1. Keep it short.
Recommended speech time is 3-5 minutes tops. No one wants to sit there and listen to what a history lecture. People want to eat, drink, and party.
2. It’s not about you.
You are up there giving a speech but this day is about the bride and groom. Don’t talk too much about yourself.
3. If you have notes, hand write them.
There is something that feels very sincere when it is handwritten. Phones and iPads are chunky and something about them feels less thoughtful (they also do not look good in photographs).
4. Keep everything you say relevant to acknowledging whoever you are acknowledging.
If you tell a story, it should tie into the purpose of your speech. When grading our papers, my English professor in college would always write the words, “So what?” after a sentence if we didn’t somehow tie it back around to making a point. “I met Sally for the first time coming out of econ class at UCLA. She was wearing a purple floral jumper.” What’s the point of you sharing this piece of information? Don’t forget the “so what.” 🙂
5. Be authentic.
YOU CANNOT GO WRONG IF YOU ARE AUTHENTIC WHEN YOU SPEAK. You may be nervous, you may be stuttering, you may have ugly crying face, but people can tell when you mean what you say. People respond well to that. Being authentic and having an unpolished speech is 100 times better than a polished speech that lacks soul and authenticity. Your goal is not to be funny or perfect. It is to acknowledge a person and the impact they have had on your life.