Marriage is what brings us together today: Speeches at weddings

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a friend’s wedding back in the Midwest. It was a beautiful wedding and I was excited to get to take part and see a lot of friends that I don’t get to see very often.

I also got to witness a couple of examples of wedding public speaking.

The first and most obvious example was the toasts by the best man and maid of honor. The toasts this past Saturday were both very short, but they were nice and appropriate for the occasion. (Absolute best line and also the surest sign we were at a rural farm wedding: <the best man telling a story about how his brother, the groom, was thinking about buying some cattle with his then-girlfriend> “You don’t buy cattle together unless you’re in love.”)

Unfortunately I have heard too many wedding toasts that were not good at all. It is almost cliche to expect that the best man or maid of honor is just going to bumble around for several minutes.

I know I am biased because I enjoy writing speeches, but it upsets me when I see people who don’t put the effort into even putting up a passable toast.

It is a pretty easy for formula for a wedding toast:

  • Say how excited you are to be a part of the wedding of (bride) and (groom).
  • Tell one or two stories about your connection with the (bride/groom), how the couple met, or a story about you and the couple.
  • Transition the story to how great the couple is together now.
  • Repeat how happy you are for the couple and raise your glass to (bride) and (groom).

If you have the skills and ability to give a more complex speech, go for it, but keep it under about seven minutes. No one wants to listen to anyone for that long when you are keeping them from having cake.

My second encounter with public speaking at the wedding occurred about ten minutes before dinner when the groom asked me if I was willing to give the pre-meal prayer. I agreed to do it, promptly borrowed a pen and paper from my aunt also attending the wedding and wrote down a few notes. While I generally don’t have problems with impromptu speaking, for some reason I have never been all that good at prayers. I listen to the devotions of people like my father and my uncles and wonder why I can not do the same thing.

The prayer went okay. I ended up taking my notes with me and it still wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but I was able to get everything across that I wanted to. I got a couple of compliments, but I knew they were just being nice.

I had a blast at the wedding and look forward to being able to hear more post-nuptial oratory in the future.

Image credit: Princess Bride Wiki, 2011

Question: Have you ever been asked to give a speech at a wedding? What did you talk about?

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