Why Your Wedding Speech Matters More Than Cake and Flowers
It’s easy to get lost on Pinterest when you’re wedding planning but what about the wedding elements that you can’t see? What about the fun? The love? The feel-good vibes? How do you plan those essential ingredients?
Well, you can. Heidi Ellert-McDermott, the author of The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches, tells us how the often overlooked speeches can kick off your wedding with a bang.
WHY YOUR WEDDING SPEECHES MATTER
Your guests might love your wedding décor but it’s doubtful they’ll be talking about the flowers or the font of the table plan the next day. The cake, although beautiful and delicious, will not inject the dopamine that will get your guests dancing and mingling before the DJ hits the decks.
Your speeches have the power to do that.
Heidi says ‘When I gave my bride’s speech, it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the day. I got all my guests laughing, my best mates crying, my mum feeling a bit more loved – and my husband feeling proud of me. It kick-started a feel-good vibe that lasted throughout the evening.’
Yes, when it comes to speeches, it’s all about the feelings. To quote the poet and author Maya Angelou ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
Heidi says ‘As a wedding speechwriter – and yes, it’s a thing – I know a great speech makes a huge impact. We’re working with more and more couples who no longer see the religious or legal ceremony as the epicenter of the wedding, but instead, want their speeches to add the heart and soul to their day.’
The retro wedding cake, the feathers, the personalized embroidery on the dress are, admittedly, all rather lovely and absolutely things that any bride can justifiably spend 20 hours a day researching. But, not at the expense of the speeches.
As Heidi says, ‘A decade ago wedding speeches were still considered a begrudging duty; something that you’d try to palm off to your other half, along with the transport. That’s no longer the case.
Couples are waking up to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the speeches give them to say something meaningful to their loved ones and each other. This is one of those rare occasions when you’re allowed to shout about how much you fancy your partner without people thinking you’re weird.’
Heidi’s advice is to start thinking about your speeches a couple of months before the wedding and consider it a joint opportunity (remember, this is not a chore like table planning).
Sit down as a couple and ‘speech-storm’ (i.e. brainstorm how your speeches can be a little more wonderful).
Even if you opt not to give a speech personally (though all brides should, at least, consider it), you still need to think about who you want to hear from on the day and do your best to help them add a magical moment to the day.
Generally, speakers appreciate some idea of what you want from them, so let them know a good duration (between five minutes and no more than 10) and give them a sense of the day you’re planning.
Will there be kids? Will it be a relaxed festival vibe or a more formal affair? How rude can they go?
Try to help them as much as you can without letting your inner control freak loose and actually writing their speech for them!
SHAKE UP THE LINEUP
Think about your lineup. Do you really want the traditional three blokes hogging the mic? What about getting some women up there? You? Your mum? Your best mate?
And it doesn’t just need to be the obvious folk who get invited to speak. Sometimes an elderly relative, like your nan, will have something suitably insightful they can add. Maybe some cheeky marriage advice?
And children always add something. If you have your own, then definitely think about how you can include your kids in your wedding, including the speech. Maybe your six-year-old can list her five top tips for making mum happy?
When it comes to who represents the couple, it could just be one of you, two of you giving separate speeches or you could deliver a joint speech. It’s a wedding trend that’s set to stay and shows you’re a proper team. It also makes rehearsing easier and reduces nerves on the day. Win-win.
Ultimately, you want a series of speeches that gets everyone in the mood to party and every guest rooting for your marriage. Yes, even the plus ones.
SOCIAL BONDING JUICE
We’re hardwired to care about stories. Stories not only grab people’s attention, but they also give your guests something to bond over.
‘Great anecdotes are key to a good speech. I still see lots of newlyweds getting sucked into thinking they need to thank everyone – from cousins who have traveled far to the venue staff – and their speech turns into a tedious thank you list’ says Heidi. ‘Sure, couples need to be grateful and welcoming but what your guests want from your speech is an insight into your relationship and to be moved or entertained by it.’
Humor is also important from a guest’s point of view. ‘Every speech – not just the best man’s – is better if it makes people laugh’ Heidi says. ‘Laughter has been proven to be the ultimate social bonding juice. If you laugh with someone, you feel connected.’
Of course, rather than googling ‘wedding gags’ Heidi advises you avoid the cheesy ice-breakers.
‘Remember the adage, it’s funny because it’s true. Instead of searching the internet for jokes, look at the reality of your relationship and pinpoint the quirks that make it different to other people’s.
Don’t pretend your partner is perfect, instead pay a tribute to the wonderful weirdo they really are!’
CREATE A WEDDING DAY HIGHLIGHT
Yes, there’s no denying that planning, writing, and delivering a great speech takes effort.
But as Heidi says ‘I loved my wedding dress, it was absolutely rocking. But on the day, I got more compliments about my speech than I did about my dress and I hope the tributes I paid to people in my speech will still be remembered for decades to come.
There was one line that my groom said to me that still makes me tear up today. A great speech can last a lifetime.’