No two wedding speeches should be the same. However, the best speeches are topical and relevant which means that they are affected by events in the outside world.
For example, we had endless requests in May 2010 for speeches referencing the new ‘coalition’ (get it?!). And a few speeches last Spring avoided references to volcanic ash.
It is difficult to know what the trends for 2011 will be. Anyone marrying between March and May in 2011 will be plagued by the inevitable comparisons with the royal wedding. A pithy line or two about how the bride and groom compare to Wills and Kate will always go down well. And for the more outdoorsy couples, the ‘other’ royal wedding between Sara Philips and Mike Tindall will generate more possibilities.
Sports events often feature highly in wedding speeches, particularly when bride or groom are passionate about a particular team. And so England’s Ashes victory will pave the way for a number of cricketing (and Australia-related) gags, as will the Champions League Final that is being held at Wembley this May.
But whereas topics like these are transient, wedding speeches also reflect the trends in the wedding community at large.
For example, internet romances have increasingly become the status quo. It is no longer the ‘unmentionable’ in the wedding speech and can actually provide ample material for humour and memorable dating stories. There is a huge amount of potential in speculating about how the couple’s profiles may have been read had they been a little more honest about their interests and achievements.
On a related theme, the internet has spawned huge numbers of international marriages, with couples sometimes living thousands of miles apart for much of their engagement. In these cases the speech giver needs to give thought to the two different cultures involved, how best to deal with language barriers (simple English, extracts in translation and photos can help), be sensitive to the distances travelled by guests, and incorporate any key cultural toasts or traditions.
Meanwhile, the traditional agenda of three speeches at every wedding given by the father-of-the-bride, groom and best man is also being revolutionised. More and more weddings are witnessing speeches by the bride or a bridesmaid. And it is not unusual for mother’s to give away their children and speak at the reception.
Multi-cultural weddings have also introduced new speech-related customs. Swedish weddings often include a brief speech from anyone who has the inclination (or the right amount of Schnapps) to take the microphone. Hindu weddings regularly include a number of speeches by members of both families.
And with an increasing number of Pink Weddings every year, there are a separate series of decisions to make regarding who speaks when and says what about who. And almost without exception, this room for flexibility can lead to the funniest and most memorable set of speeches of the entire season.
Whatever the trend, your speech should always be original and relevant. Don’t look too far afield for your material, or try to be too clever with it. Remember that every ‘DIY’ speech site has a load of useable material within it, but the best lines will all have been used at thousands of weddings before yours.
If you need any help or advise you can call me on +44 (0)207 118 1600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to another year of Great Speech Writing!