This is a guest post by Mr STG (Karen’s husband)
“Your wedding speech — it’s important”
I say your speech but I do not mean to imply that it’s only about the groom’s speech. At our wedding Mrs STG made a great speech. Why was it great? Because it was well thought out, it was original and it was straight from the heart….that’s Mrs STG all the way.
Further to my first post, I have thought about what additional contribution I could make to the ever flourishing Smashing The Glass and I thought back to our wedding to think about what I might be able to offer and I kept on coming back to my speech.
My speech was not something I was really looking forward to with relish. Like many of us I am not naturally given to making speeches even though through work I have had training and the need to do so, but making a speech at my own wedding felt very different. Why was I especially apprehensive? On reflection I think it was because this was a one-off opportunity to speak to the group of people who meant the most in the world to me.
The reason for this offering is to suggest that you take great care in making a speech and that you make it the very best you possibly can because it really is important.
Karen, founder of STG, making a speech at her wedding to Mr STG
This is the first point I wish to share. It really is the opportunity to express; your gratitude, your love, your feelings and perhaps above all else yourself.
When I say “the” opportunity I mean that there are very few other life events when your world comes together to celebrate and be joyous and that is why I strongly suggest that you seize the opportunity.
Don’t waste the opportunity
I distinctly remember attending a wedding when after a long day of ceremony and reception in the late summer sun….(I suspect you already know where I am going with this one) a groom got up after an equally long dinner and rambled and mumbled some incoherent thanks, he had to be prompted a few times to mention certain bits and pieces and I remember thinking at the time what a waste of such an opportunity.
PPPPP (aka Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance)
Your wedding day is a maelstrom second to none. There is an enormous amount going on and unless you are one of those very fortunate people who can get to their feet without preparation and deliver a coherent, witty, entertaining speech whilst remembering everything that you wish to say then you will need to prepare.
I knew I wanted to speak to a few people directly in my speech whether to express love and / or to thank amongst other things. The task was how to collate and deliver those themes in a way that involved everyone and without being boring. I suspect that this is the basis of everyone’s desire who gets up to say something on their wedding day.
Write Down Your Speech
My advice is that you need to write out your speech and I mean every word. The exercise gives you the thinking time to organise what you want to say, to give your speech structure, shape and form.
This bit does come from some of my training. Your “audience” will be the most receptive and supportive of audiences you are ever likely to speak to but they still need to know what they are going to get.
In the time honoured fashion;
- Tell them what you are going to tell them.
- Tell them and then
- Tell them you have told them.
In summary an introduction, a middle and a conclusion. Think about your speech in this structural form and then you can begin to pick up anecdotes and quotes to fit what you wish to say. And if you conclude your speech in a way that refers back to your opening comment or quote, you really are half way there.
On thinking about speeches I had heard and either enjoyed or been impressed by, I was aware that the successful speechmaker had always grabbed attention from the start. You need to be true to yourself here but starting with a quote can be helpful for two reasons; one you can use someone else’s words to begin to convey what you wish to say and they may have put it better than you can (certainly in my case), and secondly you can settle your nerves by knowing precisely what you are going to say to get started.
An engaged audience (including my sister-in-law being moved to tears!) during Mr STG’s wedding speech
Breathe… and other physical tips
One other great tip about starting your speech (again a tip picked up from someone highly skilled in the giving of speeches and in fact a former Lord Justice of Appeal)…..BREATHE.
I know it sounds trite and silly but what she, yes she, said was breathe out a proper deep breath, this relaxes your voice box and torso so when you begin to speak your voice will sound relaxed and resonant as apposed to high pitched and stressed. This tip really works.
The other physical tips include pacing yourself, do not speak too quickly, if you do not need a microphone don’t use one, have some water available, be prepared for audience participation whether its applause or heckling, as you may very well get responses that you do not expect. If you know your speech well enough you will be able to ad lib your response and come back to where you departed your script.
Practice your speech, record yourself giving your speech, listen to the recording carefully to ensure that it all works. Do not be afraid to re-write and edit.
A meaningful quote
I started with a quote that I had heard, read and seen on film, and which had struck me each and every time.
I think it worked far better than “Ladies and Gentlemen”….or “Fornication…for an occasion such as this” ha ha ha. Anyhow here is the quote which I used then and share now and I still read it every now and again and find it equally moving. I hope you do too…
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion only. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are.”
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has ebbed away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when some of the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.” Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!”
These are the words that Louis de Berniers gave his character Dr Iannis to say to his beautiful daughter Pelagia in Captain Correlli’s Mandolin.
Mr STG’s wedding speech
The Middle and the End
This is what you make of it. Be personal, be direct, “make them weep and make them laugh” or put better allow, guide and entice your audience to cry with you and laugh with you and at you.. why not?
Make sure you thank those you wish to, but be careful about listing names unless you are sure you have included everyone.
Do also remember that less is more. Much better to leave your guests craving for more of your charisma and charm than to bore your audience into submission or to lose them to their own more interesting conversations.
It is important to ensure that the flow and structure of your speech allows you comfortably to get to a conclusion whereby you have elegantly said what you have wanted to say and you can sign off in style. It will be one of the final notes of your celebration so make it count.
I hope that this post assists you during your preparation and on your day, and that when you sit down having made your speech you get a hug from someone you love deeply that says that you have touched and moved them by what you have said. I was lucky enough to have this happen to me.
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