Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wedding Writing

I used to be painfully shy. Sadly, I also wanted to change the world. In sixth grade, I got up to give my speech to be Secretary of the SGA and stared at everybody for two minutes, then ended with, "vote for me" and sat down.  So I knew I was going to have to get over the fear of public speaking.  I joined debate team. I gave many more speeches to my class while running for office.  I won a few of those races.  I'm pretty comfortable with public speaking now, and will often volunteer to be the person who presents a group project to the class or speaks at an event.  So I've written a few speeches in my day - and I've got some tips.

The really hard speech writing is the speaking-from-the-heart speechwriting.  The speechwriting we do for weddings.  (Also funerals.)  To date, I've spoken at two weddings and two funerals.  These speeches have to be organic, and they have to be good.  They have to be funny, or touching, or both, or something else.  Because the secret to really good writing is simply inspiration.  And writing down everything. So here are a few tips to get the juices flowing.

1.) Stay sober.  Don't write the speech drunk; don't give it drunk.  (I gave one speech on a glass of wine on an empty stomach.  Everyone else said it was fine, I was totally embarrassed.  I've also seen people get really wasted and give toasts.)
2.) Write the bones of the speech about 2 weeks before the wedding.  Then it's done, and you don't have to stress about it.  Print it, fold it up, and put it in your evening clutch.
3.) Think about the person/people you are going to talk about.  Think about your favorite thing or things about them.  Think about their most annoying, but also endearing, trait.
4.) Have a pen and paper.  List those things.
5.) Walk away.  Come back after the list has germinated.
6.) Eventually, the speech will come to you.  If it doesn't, try this easy formula - think about your favorite thing about the person who you are standing up for.  Think about your favorite thing about their partner.  Then think about why they are good together.  Then maybe tell a (short!) story that shows they are good together, or when you knew they were perfect for each other.  Cap it off with a quick wish for the couple - I wish you a lifetime of happiness and really good beer; May you have many adventures together; etc.
7.) Don't be awkward.  If you are older than the person getting married, and still single, do not, do not, do not, make a comment like, "everyone's asked me if I minded my sister getting married before me."  It makes everyone really uncomfortable.  Don't try to diffuse the tension you know is there by being self-depreciating and making people laugh - it will only make people feel sorry for you.

Any more tips for wedding writing?


  1. So true! I think the best speeches are just original and heartfelt. There is nothing worse than a speech made up of cliches the speaker has obviously copied from the internet ("It seems like only yesterday she was crawling around on the floor dribbling - what a 21st birthday party that was!" Ha. Not.)

    The funniest speech I ever heard was where the bride and groom had met overseas and the best man read a series of "excerpts" from emails the groom had sent him, chronicling their early dates. Soooo funny and completely original.

    But if you are not naturally funny, don't try to be (same rule applies to singing!). Just speak from the heart and you can't go too far wrong. And totally agree you should keep awkwardness to a minimum - sex jokes are NOT ok!

  2. This is really helpful. I'm maid of honor in my best friend's wedding and I'm already a little nervous about saying the right thing.

  3. I'm a bride-to-be and am really enjoying reading your blog. I really want to give a speech at my wedding thanking my parents for all that they have done, so this post was especially useful. Check out my wedding blog...any feedback is greatly appreciated (i'm really new to this!).



  4. My dad told me that "Brides don't give speeches. EVER."

    I reminded him that this is the C21st and that it would be a rare thing for me to pass up a chance of having a captive audience while I talk at them.

    To be honest, it made me wonder whether he'd actually met me...