Unsurprisingly, after pouring all her time and energy into planning the perfect day, the modern bride is no longer content to revert to a ‘non-speaking role’ once the vows have been made, nor to be reduced to merely a decorative object that sits and smiles while the men in her life toast how beautiful she looks.
However, while there is a tried and trusted approach to the other speeches, the concept of a bride’s speech is still evolving and consequently has no set format.
So, where do you begin?
* Ask your partner how comfortable they are with public speaking. If they're anxious, offer to take on some of their speech responsibilities in your own such as thanking guests for coming or remembering those who cannot be with you.
* Include ‘my husband/my wife’ early on in your speech as you are guaranteed to get ‘aahs’ and cheers from the audience and it will boost your confidence!
* Express affection for your new family and how welcome they have made you feel. While the groom historically thanks the bride’s parents for opening up their home to him, it’s only with the advent of the bride’s speech that his parents get to hear first-hand from their new daughter-in-law what they mean to her.
* Thank your bridesmaids yourself rather than going down the traditional route where your new husband thanks them for you. After all, you are closest to them and it’s therefore much more personal and heartfelt if the words come from you.
* Balance the affection scales by talking about how much your other half means to you and how you knew they were the one. We always hear these things about the bride when the groom speaks so it’s the perfect opportunity to share what makes him special with everyone
* Raise a toast at the end either to your new husband, your future together or to ‘love’
* Relax! Everyone in the audience wants you to do well so ride that wave of good wishes and enjoy the experience
* Be put off by those who aren’t on board with the concept of a bridal speech or their negative comments. After all, if the royal family can cope with Meghan Markle giving one then Great Aunt Siobhan can come to terms with you getting up and saying a few words!
* Go for the ‘obvious’ solution by giving your speech before or after the traditional speeches as it will come across as being ‘tagged on’ to the ‘main event’ rather than being an integral part. To maintain a sense of flow consider following your father’s as you can thank him for his kind words and talk about how your parents’ love and care have brought you to this happy day before talking about your new husband and the future
* Repeat material that is going to be used elsewhere. Either give the other parties a rough idea of what you hope to cover or, if you want it to be a total surprise, ask an independent third party to check each speech over to ensure that the same ‘hilarious’ anecdote isn’t being repeated three times!
* Make it too long. Nobody wants to sit through hours of speeches, no matter how touching or funny. Instead, ask the other speakers to each donate a bit of their time slot to you so that, even with adding a speech to the traditional line-up, the overall speech duration is the same.
* Steal the best man’s thunder by incorporating embarrassing anecdotes into your speech. Funny or cute stories – maybe about how you met, early dates, how he proposed or the highs and lows of wedding planning (because you can laugh about it now!) – are all perfect fodder for a bride’s speech but leave the real roasting to his best mate
* Forget to thank the people who helped you to create your perfect wedding. They may not have an official title such as Matron of Honour but if your friend Charlie helped you hand tie three hundred favours with ribbon or your Godmother’s flower arranging class helped with the church displays then do give them a mention.
* Give a speech off the cuff. You can guarantee that the other speakers will have pored over their drafts for weeks so don’t try and cobble something together in your head at the last minute
And just think, this might be the beginning of an even bigger sea-change where mums give the ‘father of the bride speech’ or we see the formal introduction of the ‘matron of honour speech’. What’s clear though is that the traditional wedding format is changing and a new generation is putting a very personal stamp on their big day.
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