ASK PETE: Leaving It Late To Start My Wedding Speech

160614_nervous guy“Help! I’m getting married next week and I’ve done nothing about my wedding speech. I kept putting it off as I thought I had loads of time, but now I’m staring at the very real possibility of standing up on the day with nothing to say. All my mates keep telling me I should relax and just make it up on the day, but I really don’t want to let my fiancee down and make a fool of myself – what should I do??”

-JC, London, UK



I’m a firm believer in giving yourself as much time as possible when it comes to preparing for your wedding speech for so many reasons. In particular, the longer you have to practise, the more comfortable you’ll be with your speech: and as a result your speech will be better and more polished and you’ll be a lot less nervous.

But I don’t think the old “I told you so” is going to help in this situation, so what can you do if you’ve only given yourself a few days to do your wedding speech?

First off, don’t panic. You need to believe in yourself that you will do a perfectly good job. Panicking is a self-defeating emotion and will just paralyze you, making you more nervous and less likely to be able to perform on the day.

Next, think about what you can talk about – get hold of a pen and paper and jot down everything you can think of. You’re going to be speaking as the groom, so you could talk about your wife-to-be (how you met, how you proposed, how you feel about her, your hopes and dreams for your future together), your family and friends (anyone you need to thank for helping out on the day, anything you can say about your parents and how they’ve brought you up, and your future in-laws and how they’ve welcomed you into the family), or the day itself (anything you can say about the venue, the occasion or the guests).

Once you have a long list of things you could talk about, it’s worth giving yourself a day or two of not looking at it, to give you a bit of distance from it. But obviously, that depends on how much time you have left! Then you should look at your list of ideas critically and cross out anything which won’t work or isn’t relevant or might upset people.

Then you need to mould it into a speech. I have a handy free e-book which can help you here – it’s very short and practical and includes a free template which can be used for any type of wedding speech – simply click below to get instant access.

How to Write a Great Wedding Speech - In 5 Easy Steps!

Don't worry about not having enough material, or try to pad it out with random jokes and one-liners. There are 2 key rules to bear in mind which apply across all wedding speeches (in fact, for most public speaking in a social context):

  1. Shorter is best - ideally you want to be speaking for between 5 to 10 minutes, but it's perfectly acceptable to stand up and just say a few words and a toast. People are more likely to complain if your speech is too long than if it's too short - remember that the wedding speeches usually come at the end of a long and tiring day, so people will get restless if they're forced to sit and listen to seemingly endless speeches.
  2. Personal stories work so much better than off-the-peg one-liners or jokes. People are there to hear you talk about your new wife and what the occasion means to you, not to watch you do a stand-up comedy routine. They'll respond so much better to stories they can relate to - and those stories will be much, much easier for you to remember! Of course, this doesn't just apply to the groom's speech - the best man and father of the bride should also take note of this...

Finally, with whatever time you have available, practise as much as you can. Don't overload yourself so that you end up panicking and losing the plot, but make sure you're as familiar as you can be with what you're going to say. If you do find yourself panicking or forgetting bits, strip it down to the bare minimum (thank yous, nice words about your new wife, end on a toast).

Good luck!

**If you have any comments, or questions that you'd like Pete to answer, feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page**




Peter D Oxley
Pete Oxley is a freelance writer and business manager who lives in the English Home Counties. He enjoys reading and writing in a wide range of areas but his main passions are sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction and Steampunk. Influences include HG Wells, Charles Dickens, Neil Gaiman, KW Jeter, Scott Lynch, Clive Barker and Joss Whedon. Author of the non-fiction book "The Wedding Speech Manual" and the historical fantasy series "The Infernal Aether". He lives with his wife, two young sons and a slowly growing guitar collection. Probably a masochist: aside from writing and willingly speaking in front of large crowds of strangers, Pete spends his spare time playing music badly and supporting football teams that play badly.

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