Do I or Don’t I? The Trouble with Bride Speeches / by Katrine Mikkelsen

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I think all women agree that men get more than enough opportunities to speak. We get interrupted on countless occasions daily and we get ‘mansplained’ to, so on your wedding day you are entitled to speak if you want to! You might even be more comfortable with public speaking than your partner.
If you’re a blushing bride who normally shies away from the spotlight then don’t worry you have the right to say ‘no!’ and pass the mic along to someone whom you’d rather hear speak than yourself. But in this egalitarian world that we live in, particularly if you’ve paid for the wedding yourself, you have the right to stand up and express yourself. No more are the speeches purely a masculine domain occupied by the Father of the Bride, the Best Man and the Groom. MOBs (Mother of the Brides) are giving speeches, Maid of Honours are giving speeches and, most importantly, Brides are delivering far more speeches. It’s entirely up to you what you decide to do. Just remember that you have the freedom to do whatever you want to do. This applies to your whole wedding. Don’t feel forced to do something just because tradition tells you that you have to. So if the idea of a particular tradition sets your teeth on edge just thinking about it, then don’t worry. Just talk to your partner and tell them how you feel. He, or she, is the person of your dreams and they want you to be happy on your Big Day.

If you do decide to deliver a speech then you need to know that for many people what you are doing is still controversial. The issue seems to be that women are still not expected to be funny, despite the vast number of female comedians, going back as far as Joyce Grenfell to Amy Schumer. If you are a funny person and want to deliver a humorous speech then go for it. If you’d rather just deliver a touching, romantic missive to your spouse and a massive thank you to both of your families for their support and you feel comfortable doing that then do that! On your wedding day of all days you need to do what makes you happy.

If you’ve already decided to deliver a speech but you’re worried about it being a success then I have some helpful hints to get you through this high-pressure situation.

1. Don’t take too long! And don’t say “I won’t talk for too long” or “I’ll keep this brief”, it implies that you think you’ll be boring or even that you don’t have the right to be up there delivering a speech.

2. Don’t improvise! Prepare and rehearse your speech long in advance. This is the one thing you don’t want to leave to the last minute as all eyes will be on you when you stand up.

3. Be specific but not too specific! You need a few specific anecdotes to support the points you want to make about how wonderful you think everyone is, just try not to be too specific! If your Maid of Honour is extremely neat and tidy, then don’t support this by telling everyone that she keeps her Seat Ibiza miraculously pristine.

4. Don’t read your speech off your phone! This looks like you left writing your speech until the very last minute and makes you look disorganised. Even if you just handwrite your speech on some pretty card, rather than printing it out, it will look a lot more polished.

5. Say thank you – Saying thank you to your family and to the family you are joining is the most important element of your speech, aside from thanking everyone for coming that is.

6. Be confident! Whenever you’re speaking in public, you should take a few deep breaths first, smile, stand up straight and look your audience in the eye and say your words calmly and with deliberation.

7. Professional delivery! In addition to slowing down your speech and looking your audience in the eye, always pause for laughter to subside, don’t look down at the floor, up at the ceiling or at the exit, try not to ‘um’, ‘errr’ and ‘aaah’ even though it’s very difficult to avoid. Rehearsing your speech several times should help you avoid this.

Of course, the most important person to thank during your speech is your spouse. Make your speech as personal, heartfelt and intimate as possible with plenty of anecdotes about your shared experiences and lives together, maybe even look back on how and where you met and compare that to where you are today. Above all, don’t forget to say why you are certain that you will love each other forever and why you think you are about to set off on your greatest and best adventure together as a newly married couple.