QHotels reveals top tips for writing a winning wedding speech

Wedding Speech at Slaley Hall

Feeling the pressure of writing a wedding speech this summer?

As QHotels searches for the UK's best wedding speech videos in its first-ever Wedding Speech Awards, the hotel group is here to give some tips on writing and delivering the perfect speech, with the help of two of its expert wedding coordinators, Leanne Bulpitt and Libby Volpe.

Having worked closely with couples to create their perfect day and ensure everything runs smoothly, Leanne and Libby know a thing or two about speeches.  So, if you don't know where to start or you just can't seem to put pen to paper, here's some top tips and steps on writing, preparing and delivering an award-winning speech.      

Do your research

Leanne says: "Before you begin planning your speech, do some initial research to understand what's expected, who your audience is and how the speech section of the day will work."

Before you pick up a pen, make sure you can answer these questions:

  • How do you want your speech to be remembered? Do you want your speech to result in laughter, tears of joy, a blushing bride or groom, or perhaps all three?
  • Who is your audience? Is it a small family wedding or mostly friends?  Do you know them well or will it be the first time you meet most of your audience?
  • Where will you be presenting? Will you have to project your voice across a large room? It's no good using a video or slides with a projector if you're giving a speech outside.
  • How long are you expected to present for? Most wedding guests would agree that 10-15 minutes is a good length of time to keep your audience engaged

"I always suggest thinking about having speeches before the wedding breakfast to make for a calmer meal all round.  This is becoming an increasingly popular option," explains Leanne.

Put pen to paper

Libby advises: "The best speeches are those which are deeply personal. Telling forgotten stories always goes down well and reflects the strong relationship between the speech giver and the wedding party."

Writing your speech is a process of getting everything you could possibly include down on paper, then ruthlessly cutting out content so you're left with the best bits. Start with the following steps:

  • Write down the sentiment or message you want the audience to remember.
  • Have a think about all the other potential jokes, stories and points you could include.
  • Choose just three of these that support and flow nicely into the main point of your speech.
  • As you start to put pen to paper, remember to write as you would naturally speak.
  • Incorporate memorable phrases and even images to illustrate what you're saying.
  • If anything doesn't flow with your speech, remove it!

"Keep a notebook with you at all times so you can write ideas down as they pop into your head.  Writing everything down will help keep your mind clear," says Libby.

Don't be afraid to try something different

"More and more people are looking for unique and alternative ways of doing things during their wedding and that doesn't stop at speeches. We have seen a huge increase in the use of props and slideshow presentations during speeches, particularly by the Best Man, whose job it is to add some humour and embarrass the bride and groom just a little," explains Leanne.

Once you've written your speech and you're happy with the flow and structure, think about how you want to present to your audience and the different props you could incorporate to help bring your words to life.

  • Some people may prefer to keep their speech simple and to the point. However there are lots of different props you can use, from slideshows to musical instruments, to help make your speech more engaging.
  • If you're a nervous speaker, using props may help you feel less like you're in the spotlight and could take some of the pressure off. Or, you could think about involving other people in your speech
  • Start by watching some real wedding speeches on QHotels' Wedding Speech Awards YouTube playlist to get a better idea of what you like and what might work for you.
  • However you choose to present, make sure the style you use suit you.  If you're not a confident singer, don't feel pressured to turn your speech into a song! 

"Slideshows can seem daunting but they can be as simple as using photographs to add a personal touch and to engage more with the audience," Libby adds.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Leanne says: "Start rehearsing your speech as early as possible - the sooner you can start practising out loud, the less daunting it will become."

The rehearsal phase should be the most time-consuming element of your preparation.  No time spent rehearsing your speech will be wasted. Here are some tips for the rehearsal stage:

  • Writing your speech out in full is often the most useful but if you prefer to list topic headings on cards, do whatever works best for you.
  • It's best to rehearse your speech in the same way you'll deliver it - standing, aloud, and with the passion and movement you'll use on the big day.
  • If you want to take things even further, you could try recording yourself delivering your full speech then watch it back to work out which bits you want to practice more
  • Consider performing in front of a trusted friend, particularly if any of your jokes could be risqué!

Deliver with confidence

Libby says: "Whilst almost every speaker is excited about their role in the wedding, most are also extremely nervous.  My top tip for overcoming nerves is to simply take a deep breath in the knowledge that everyone is there to enjoy the day and they really do want you to do well.  It's not often in life you get to present to such a friendly crowd!

If you've put the time into your rehearsals, you should now be on track for a confident delivery, so remember:

  • You can't give a great speech by reading every word from a script or relying too much on notes.  Providing you've rehearsed you'll be able to give your full attention to the audience.
  • Take some deep breaths - this will calm you and help avoid you speaking too quickly.
  • Look at your audience to remind you that you're communicating with a room full of friendly individuals.
  • Smile - this will help you relax and engage with your audience.
  • Move around the room, if this feels natural to you.
  • Above all, remember to enjoy yourself!

"Now that you've perfected your speech technique, we'd love to see you in action.  Make sure a wedding guest films your wedding speech on the big day - a camera phone will do just fine - and enter the video into our Wedding Speech Awards competition to win some amazing prizes and inspire other wedding speakers," says Leanne.

People can enter a speech into the awards by sending a link to the wedding speech video with #Weddingspeech, stating the category they are entering, to @QHotels on Twitter or post onto QHotels' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/QHotels.

Any speech given at a wedding reception can be submitted, provided the speech is on a video that has been uploaded to the internet and is publicly available. Nominations can come from the speech-givers themselves or another wedding guest.

Prizes - including an overnight stay, a golf lesson, spa day, afternoon tea and vouchers for QHotels - will be awarded to the winning speech-giver and nominator of each category.

For more details about QHotels Wedding Speech Awards and how to enter, please visit www.qhotels.co.uk/weddings/wedding-speech-awards. The deadline for entries is 28 August.

Photography courtesy of 2Tone Photography.

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