How to deliver a bridal speech with confidence

21 Feb 2018

It has been speculated that Meghan Markle is set to give a speech at her wedding, so should you speak at yours? Here's how to do so with a sense of calm and collected confidence

You’ve spent copious amounts of time and money making your big day one that you and your guests will enjoy and remember, so why is it that when the time comes to formally speak about it, you’re expected to sit mute?

It’s not traditional for the bride to give an after dinner speech; most probably because in bygone years the demands of public speaking were considered too great for 'the little lady'. Today’s brides - Meghan Markle included - have little truck with such sentiments. They see themselves as equals and consequently want to buck the trend and take to the mic.

But how should a bride approach a non-traditional speaking role? Wedding speech coach, Emma Taylor, shares her key pointers…

Decide where you're going to come in 

Before the big day comes around, know where you’ll come in to the speech order. You can come in anywhere except last - that slot has to be for the best man. It works well for the bride to speak after her father – or whoever is delivering the ‘father of the bride’ speech, as it gives her the opportunity to respond impromptu to some of her father’s comments.

Structure your speech

Open by thanking your maid of honour and bridesmaids for all their support. A funny hen do anecdote that captures the fun and dedication of your top girl team will always go down well. Keep it pithy; edit out the dull bits but expand and play out the big, humorous moments.

Now talk about your new husband; how you came to meet and the life journey you’re about to embark on together. Keep this light and witty. Don’t say: “And I can’t believe I’ve married my Prince Charming"... it’s been done to death. Instead, say something like: “And I look forward to the years ahead; converting Adam to the wonders of yoga, meat-free meals and moisturising.”

Thank your family and the groom’s family for any outstanding non-financial help they’ve given you - the groom should thank the families for monetary contributions. Maybe remark on the hours your mum put in accompanying you to wedding fairs and dress fittings. If you fear you’ve been a bit bridezilla during the wedding planning process then now’s the time to fess up and apologise. Finish by proposing a toast to the continued health and happiness of your parents and parents-in-law.

Avoid repetition

Speak to your other half about the content of your speeches. You don’t want to thank the same people for the same things, and guests don’t want to hear your ‘how we got together story’ twice. Unless you subvert it by revealing some surprising initial thoughts from both your perspectives.

Does your father have people to thank who’ve travelled a great distance to be at your wedding? If so, don’t feel you need to thank them again.

Format the speech for easy reading

In the run up to your wedding, you probably won’t have the time to memorise your speech so read your speech but format so you can bring it up from the page and make lots of lovely eye contact. Type it up in double-line spacing and start every sentence on a new line. Each paragraph can be on a separate piece of paper. And staple your pages together so that if you drop your speech, it isn’t too big a deal.

Kick off your shoes

When it comes to getting on your feet, your lower body will probably be concealed by the top table. This means that if you kick off your heels and deliver your speech in your stocking feet, then nobody will see but you will look much more balanced and feel much more comfortable. I urge you to do this for posterity. When you watch the video back, you won’t want to see yourself swaying and tottering and generally looking a bit trollied.

Smile

Guest love it when brides speak. That’s why they’re often called upon to say a few words. Guests know how much you’ve put into this day and how much it means to you, so don’t let adrenaline freeze you. Talk to your family and friends and let your happiness show - unreservedly. 

Emma has been giving public speaking training for 14 years. She is a working scriptwriter and a trained actor. She offers three types of coaching options: One-to-one coaching, a bridal speech party, and two types of open group workshops: ‘Simply the Best’ which is designed for best men, best women and matrons of honour and ‘Welcomes, Wishes and Cheers!’ which is for brides, grooms and fathers or mothers of the bride.