Well, the short answer is: nearly always yes, but sometimes no. If this sounds a little bit confusing then bear with me. There is one sure fire way, when it comes to wedding speeches, of giving yourself the best possibility of landing them, and that’s to make sure you know what you’re saying inside out. Once you’ve read it through several times, the blocks of content should start to form in your brain and then with a few prompt cards on the day you should be home and dry. Only reading through the speech as often as you can puts you in that position.
However, there are some big ‘no no’s’ in my book when it comes to wedding speeches practice and the fundamental one for me is reading it to other people. If this is going to form part of your practice then you are making a challenging task way more difficult than it has to be, and I’ve seen this happen many times. If your girlfriend looks puzzled at the joke you loved, or questions a play on words you’re really chuffed with then it becomes speech writing by committee and you’re now relying on the sensibilities, and indeed sense of humour, of another party. And who’s to say they’re right and you’re wrong?
Wedding speeches should always be pitched at the level where you neither offend nor isolate anyone present, there is absolutely no room for crudeness or rudeness. But that doesn’t mean the guy’s ones have to lose the masculine edge that defines them. If you start trying to write things that your girlfriend (and it is always your girlfriend) thinks suitable then what is likely to result is paler version of what you really wanted to say. And the same goes for the girls – don’t start letting the boys interfere with your speech on the big day because they’ll want to start shaping into the speech they were never asked to make.
The second fundamental rule of wedding speeches is: don’t change things that you were perfectly happy with at the beginning. If something makes you laugh first time round then go with it because that’s exactly what’s going to happen on the day. What can happen is that you read it so often that you’ll start to question the humour and sentiment of things that really work. So don’t mend something that doesn’t need fixing. At the very start get a version that you’re really happy with and stick to it. Changing it is counterproductive and unsettling.
And finally, if your idea of practice is to memorise the speech, then good luck and I’ll see you for counseling afterwards. I have to learn scripts as part of my broadcast work and I’ve got pretty good at it, but 1200 words? Not a chance. Unless you have circuit boards where your brains should be, memorizing a speech with either send you mad, or result in at best, a monotonus delivery. The most likely result is that you’ll just become so utterly lost in the forest of words, you’ll come to a grinding halt and the guests will have the opportunity to watch a very public breakdown.
Only you really know what’s going to work for your speech; what you want to say and how you want to say it. So have the confidence to go with something you believe in, because if you’ve got that, then the rest is easy.