How to write a wedding speech

Word count: 645 words

Reading time: About 2.5 minutes

Have you ever been asked to give a speech at a wedding? This post on how to write a wedding speech will give you a better idea about how to approach the task…

My husband belongs to a family that has the best weddings. Although we missed the last one in Perth, Australia — we couldn’t afford the time or the airfare for five — we caught the most recent one, earlier this month, on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Like the first wedding in this branch of the family (they have four adult kids), it was held on the beach in front of their home.

Although the family lives in a modest house, their location — on the top of a hill with a spectacular outlook of the Strait of Georgia – to my mind makes it worth at least $10 million. (Granted, I’m prone to hyperbole, but check out that view, above!) There’s a trail down to the beach that’s precipitously steep. I tried counting the steps on our recent visit and lost track once I’d hit 100.

How to write a wedding speechI can’t fathom how the bride managed the rustic path in her extravagantly poufy white dress, but she was able to walk down it — in flat shoes —  without getting mucky. Is there a metaphor in there, somewhere? We sat on driftwood benches, manufactured by the groom’s handy dad. My kids ran bets on how many people would be foolish enough to show up on the beach in high heels. (Winning answer: four.)

At the dinner reception, held in a community hall, we listened to many speeches from both sides of the family. Normally, I dread wedding speeches. The endless blah-blah-blahing delivered by people who are too nervous, too drunk or too ill-prepared makes me impatient for the dancing to start. But, almost implausibly, everyone at this wedding hit a home-run.

If you research “wedding speeches” on the internet, you’ll find lots of crazy or vague advice. “Find a balance,” says professional speaker John Bell. Thanks, John. Never would have thought of that. Hard work and great gobs of time are involved, according to a site calling itself Wedding Speeches. “A good wedding speech can take time, time and more time to write,” it says. Great advice for scaring people off. Speakers should begin by making a list of things they appreciate about the bride and the groom, according to E-How. But how will you ever turn that into a speech, e-how? (Too bad they don’t think to suggest mindmapping.)

To me, a great wedding speech does one thing: it tells a story. At this wedding, the groom’s sister, Anna, did that by recounting an early-in-the relationship story about bride, Devon, and groom, Robert. One day, Anna recalled, the couple was heading back to Vancouver from the Sunshine Coast. After climbing on the ferry, Robert looked for his wallet and couldn’t find it. This was a deal-breaker because he wasn’t just heading back to Vancouver, but on to Edmonton by plane. Devon looked up and said, “We have to go back to get it.” No recriminations. No fuss. Ferry officials, who had just finished loading the cars,  thought it was too late but Devon managed to talk her way around them. “Perhaps yodeling was involved,” said Anna – a line that made everyone smile for its goofy charm.

Initially, I wasn’t equally impressed by the speech from Victoria, the bride’s sister. She told what was at risk of being an irrelevant anecdote about the bride’s determination to get better grades in school. In grade 2 when she got a C, Devon had apparently marched up to the teacher and asked permission to resubmit her project. She received it, redid it and got a better mark. “Fine,” I thought. “That sounds like Devon, but who cares?”

Then Victoria delivered her punchline: “Devon dated many boys over the years. Most of them were Cs and Bs. We’re so pleased that, in Robert, she’s found her A.”

Shazam. Victoria nailed it. Succinct. Great story. Even better ending.

That’s how to write a wedding speech.

What’s the best wedding speech you’ve ever heard? Or given? We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)

Photos courtesy Robert Carson and Eric Watts