Giving the perfect bride’s speech at your wedding! Top tips from 166 Photography
A brilliant guest blog by Lincolnshire wedding photographer 166 Photography
When it comes to speeches on a wedding day, most of them are traditionally from the male perspective. The standard format for wedding speeches is: the father of the bride, followed by the groom’s speech and ending with the ritual humiliation that is the best man’s speech. Women’s voices rarely feature.
But, what about the bride?
How does a bride’s speech fit into the day? Well, like many wedding traditions (let’s not get started on the word obey in vows!) things are changing. More and more brides are looking to give a speech at their wedding. And of course, not every wedding has a groom! But what should you say? What should you avoid? And where in the speeches should it happen? Read on and let’s answer some of those all-important questions and help you deliver an amazing bride’s speech on your wedding day.
WHY GIVE A BRIDE’S SPEECH?
The simple answer is because you want to. A bride’s speech can help create a more balanced and inclusive atmosphere to the speeches. It gives that all important female perspective and allows the bride to share her personal appreciation for her bridesmaids and her family in planning the wedding day and of course her spouse.
A bride will always have a different journey through the wedding planning to the groom and this should be celebrated too. There may be some people who have been instrumental in helping with the wedding that the groom may not mention in his speech and these people deserve to be thanked in front of everyone.
One of the nicest things about giving a bride’s speech is that it allows the bride to show her love for her spouse. It is lovely to hear how much you mean to someone else, but to see their face when you let them know how much they mean to you is priceless.
WHAT TO INCLUDE (& WHAT TO POSSIBLY AVOID)
The traditional format of a groom’s speech will be to thank the bridal party, thank both sets of parents and then show his love for his spouse. It is a good starting point for a bride’s speech too, but don’t forget to add your own spin to things, otherwise, your guests may feel like they are just hearing the same speech twice.
The key thing is that you don’t want to say the same thing as your husband or wife. Typically the bride’s speech will be immediately before or after the groom’s speech – if you’re two brides, your speeches can be one after the other, or together. Rather than simply thanking the bridal party you have the opportunity to express how much they mean to you. You can tell the stories about how they helped in the lead up to the big day, or how they have always been there for you. One of you can cover the thanks to your bridesmaids, the other should cover your love for them.
This brings me to the main thing to avoid. Be careful about including too many in-jokes or stories that will only resonate with a few people. Remember your speech is for everyone and so it’s best to save those in-jokes for the wedding morning when you can all enjoy them. This also goes for embarrassing stories (no matter how much romance there may be within them). They may be hilarious, especially in the right company, but some stories may not be suitable for the audience you will have in front of you.
BE YOURSELF (everyone else is taken)
I cannot express this enough, please don’t try to write a speech that you feel you should make, write a speech that is 100% you. Remember, this is not your GCSE English exam, you are telling those who mean the most to you how you truly feel about them. They want to hear you speak from your heart, so make sure you do just that.
You may want to include a quote in your speech. The key thing is that it resonates with you and your partner. It can be easy to look at classic poets or literature. But, if you, as a couple, are more The Simpsons than the poems of Shelley, then you should include a Simpsons quote. Your wedding speech is not the time to show you are schooled in classical romantic poetry, it is a time to tell your partner what they mean to you in a way that resonates with you both. Remember, you want your partner to say “awwwww” when they hear the quote you picked, not “huh??????”
WHEN TO MAKE A BRIDE’S SPEECH.
That is totally up to you. A good way to make it a really special part of the day is for the newlyweds to speak first. The important thing is to plan where you will make your bride’s speech so it doesn’t just feel tacked on to the day.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY SPEECH BE?
A good rule of thumb is to aim for around five minutes. Speeches will take around 30 minutes in total and while it may be hard to stick to five, if you keep it in mind as a goal, you won’t start to wander into the 10-15 minute territory. What I have seen in the past is that when speeches go past 40 minutes, your guests tend to get bored.
SHOULD I HAVE A COPY TO READ FROM?
When it comes to having a copy of your speech on the day, I would tend to suggest cue cards. These are small, stylish and mean that you can’t fill a page with too much information. Whilst it might be convenient, I would never suggest using your phone to read your speech from. We generally associate staring at phones with boredom and that is not something you want to convey to your guests.
I would suggest rather than printing out your whole speech on A4 paper, you have a series of key words and prompts to help you remember your speech. Whilst it is easy to be confident you will remember it, the excitement of the day combined with a few nerves mean this might not be the case. By using a series of prompts and things such as quotes noted down, you will remember everything you want to say, but won’t get caught up in simply reading it out rather than being present in the moment. If you change your speech a little on the day or forget to include something don’t worry, nobody will notice.
HOW TO CALM YOUR NERVES
Most people get nervous when they speak. Even those who have done it hundreds of times. The key is to remember those around you love you and they want to hear what you have to say. Try to avoid staring at your cue cards as you make your speech. Look for someone who helps you stay calm and make eye contact with them. If all else fails, a good technique I learnt from a musician who was always shy about being on stage was to look just over the heads of the audience to a wall behind them. Everyone naturally assumes you are looking near them, but you don’t have to watch for their reactions to your speech. Also be careful of a drink or two to stay calm, it may have the opposite effect.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The key to giving a great speech is to start planning early and practice regularly. Start with an initial version and don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for feedback. Once you have something that you are OK with, start reading it out loud. Not only will this help you memorise it, but sometimes things sound different when you read them out loud. Keep refining your speech til you are happy with it. Again read it to someone close to you for feedback and then keep practising. It will get easier, even if it doesn’t initially feel like it.
As I said earlier, you will probably make a couple of mistakes on the day. Nobody will care and everyone will be happy to hear what you have to say. Nobody is going to heckle you and your spouse is going to be over the moon to hear you express your love in front of everyone.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful and that if you were debating whether to give a bride’s speech, this has encouraged you to go for it. It’s normal for the thought of this to be a little scary, but you can do it. I am sure it will be the best speech of the day! Good luck!
Further reading: How to be happy making a speech at a wedding
Book recommendation: A modest book about how to make an adequate speech, by John-Paul Flintoff