There was this moment during a wedding speech I gave for my sister, on a golden May afternoon in 2016. I sipped a drink and scanned the room, taking a pause after what I thought was a reasonably good joke about the time my sister thought Wales was an island because it can accessed via a bridge.
I knew many of the guests, but not all, and I was drawn to looking for affirmation in those I knew. On a couple of tables I saw pockets of laughter, smiles above rows of waistcoats and dresses, and something that looked like encouragement. During that moment I thought to myself, ‘this is going much better than expected‘.
And I remember that clearly, because I don’t remember much else about that day.
When you tell people that you’ve been asked (/appointed) to give a wedding speech, most tend to ask if you’re nervous. It’s fair enough — it’s quite an unusual thing to do, stand up in front of a cluster of people you know, many you don’t, and talk about one of the people they’ve come to see dressed in weighty ceremonial clothes.
There you are, perhaps feeling like it’ll be great fun, perhaps feeling like you’re not the best person for the job, or perhaps just taking it in your stride. Nervous? Maybe.
The second wedding speech I gave was in a room overlooking a ski slope inside the arctic circle, in Lapland, February 2019. It was long since dark by the time that the speeches started, but I was very aware of the expanse of white behind me — the luminescence of the snow, and the way that the arctic night can dance above you. It felt like a special day.
That sounds lofty — the reality is that by 9:30pm I’d had more Finnish specialty alcohol than is wise, and stood up to give my speech knowing it would either go very well, or a room full of people would witness a spectacular ego meltdown. I got lucky that day.
Later that year, I was fortunate enough to be giving a joint best man speech in a beautiful barn in Wiltshire. That wedding had something about it — an electricity in the room that elevated every moment. Weddings are good like that.
Joint speeches can be a menace to get right. We’d practiced in the few days before, and were feeling confident enough (as in, OK). Right before the speeches, a coin was dumped in the bottom of the full glasses of white wine me and my fellow best man had poured ourselves. It’s a universal language, and we necked the drinks like we knew we should. It added some risk to the speech. But I think we got away with it (if you were there that day, please agree with that if only for my sleep cycle).
As someone who has dabbled with writing over the years, every now and then a friend will ask for some help with a speech. And it’s always my favourite thing to do.
There’s a particular delight in seeing someone get a wedding speech together. It’s the detailed thought, the mechanics of the stories, the opportunity to say some really considered and just nice things about someone important to you. That’s what it feels like to me.
I’m grateful for having had chances to deliver a wedding speech on a few occasions. It’s an unforgettable experience. Yet, like you, I’ve also seen a portion of wedding speeches in my time that haven’t quite landed — not disasters, but some poorly thought out speeches that have relied on templates and naff, worn jokes that left the room a little chalky.
I started Better Wedding Speech with the simple, slightly lofty thought that I might be able to help you make your wedding speech better.
If you’re new to wedding speeches and want to do a great job, I’ve been there — I can help you review your draft, looking at structure, tone, content, delivery, and style, to give your speech some real firepower.
If the thought of writing a wedding speech makes your head turn soupy, then I can help you with writing the whole thing. We’ll go through your stories and thoughts carefully, and put together something unique to give you some edge on the day.
Whether you’re working on a best man speech, father of the bride speech, groom’s speech, bride’s speech, sibling of speech, or bridesmaid speech — I’d love to help.
Take a look around. You’ll find information on the packages I offer, some more words about me and this site, and loads of tips on writing a great wedding speech in the blog. For anything else feel free to send me a message.
No templates, no tired jokes — just unique speeches.
When I was writing a speech for my sister in 2016, the advice that left the biggest impact on me was simple: Make it matter.
After closing with a toast, I put my punch down — for some reason I’d obsessively held a cup of punch during the whole thing — and hugged my sister.
It was one of the most special moments of my life.
Yours could be, too.
Subscribe below, and never miss a tip to make your wedding speech better.