Being asked to give a speech at a wedding is an honor that most people receive with gratitude, but then panic when it comes time to actually write it! If that’s you, you might be wondering how to write a wedding speech that could possibly communicate everything you want to say. But, don’t worry! Writing a wedding speech is easier than you might think.
As a wedding photographer, I’ve heard hundreds of wedding speeches! The toasts are always a special part of the day but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that not all wedding speeches are created equal. All are meaningful - but the best ones leave you with laughter (or tears!) long after the speaker sits down. I’m here to help you with how to write a wedding speech that is truly unforgettable.
How to Write A Wedding Speech
Want to know how to write a wedding speech? These are my 6 key points to set you down the path to wedding speech success!
Brainstorm Your History
When it comes to how to write a wedding speech, the first step is just like any creative project: take the pressure off and start throwing ideas around. Brainstorm about the couple: your history with them, who they are, what they love, and what sets them apart.
As you do this, you’ll want to focus on two main strands: the personal qualities of the happy couple and stories about them. Your speech is a celebration of their lives and love - so who are they? Why does everyone in the room love them? Brainstorming a few key qualities about the couple will give your speech a good opportunity for structure and focus when you write it later on.
This is also the point to dredge up anecdotes and key memories, but don’t worry about being funny or moving quite yet. In this stage of how to write a wedding speech, you're just looking for content that you’ll eventually narrow down as you decide on what you’re going to say.
Focus On Your Audience
The next stage of how to write a wedding speech is to tailor your content to your listeners. This will help you narrow down your stories (remember, grandma will be in the room!) and it will help you hone your focus. The key to how to write a wedding speech is to remember how you want your audience to feel - joyful, amused, affectionate, and above all, celebratory.
So pick some common ground. Even if you are a bride or groom, the speech isn’t fundamentally about yourself - it’s not your time to highlight how funny or eloquent you are. A wedding speech is about the love of two people for one another, and the love of their community for them. So steer past inside jokes and obscure references and choose to mention quirks most people will recognize and stories that people will enjoy.
Pick a Theme
Once you’ve assembled the key pool of content that you could pull from, it’s time to hone in on a theme. This is a crucial part of how to write a wedding speech. In the blur of an amazing evening, people won’t remember a speech that is too long or hard to understand. Instead, it will be your main point, key story, or punchy one-liner that will stay with people forever.
So keep it simple and focused. Maybe you’ll choose several key qualities about the couple and use stories to show them in action. Maybe you’ll pick a metaphor that you return to at the beginning and end to tie the speech together. Or maybe you’ll repeat a phrase as you speak. Don’t stray too far from your key message: stay on track!
Mention Both People
If you’re a parent talking about your child or a bridesmaid talking about your best friend - this can be hard! You have so much to say about your loved one that it can be tempting to focus solely on them. But remember, the day is about two people, and about half of the room is there for someone else!
When you’re thinking about how to write a wedding speech, make sure you acknowledge your loved one’s new spouse with an intentional comment that’s more than skin-deep. A great way to do this is to talk about the effect they have had on their partner - how has your loved one changed or grown since meeting them? That’s instantly romantic!
Keep It Short
Five minutes might sound like a long time to fill, but by the time you’re writing out your stories and memories, you’ll be surprised by how quickly those minutes fill up. The real trick to learn is how to write a wedding speech that packs years of emotion into three to five minutes!
If your speech is going too much over that time, be brutal with yourself and cut it down. You have a lifetime to reminisce over old college stories, but only a few minutes to hold this crowd’s attention - so make the moments count!
Practice, Practice, Practice
And not just the morning of the day itself! Practice giving your speech in front of the mirror and in front of other people. Ask for feedback: what hits as funny, what goes on too long? Getting other people’s opinions will show you how to write a wedding speech that is not only meaningful but grabs the audience and captures their attention.
Then practice some more! It might even be a good idea to record yourself practicing and then listen back for anything you can improve. And make sure that you practice giving the speech using the exact kind of notes you will be using. If that’s a print-out, print it out. If that’s an iPad or a phone, practice with that - and make sure you know how you will maneuver your notes with a mic in the other hand!
There are some key guidelines to follow as you are preparing to give a speech at a wedding. But if someone were to ask me to sum up my advice for how to write a wedding speech in one word, it would be this: authenticity.
Don’t try to bury your personality under some public-speaking persona. Don’t dumb down your feelings. The best thing you can do when that microphone is in your hand is to be real. Let your real love and joy for your friends and family show. When you do this, you’ve already won - you’re already unforgettable!
And if you’re looking for a wedding photographer in Austin, Texas, check out my work!
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