I’M GETTING MARRIED IN THE MORNING… PULL OUT THE STOPPER! LET’S HAVE A WHOPPER! he says: quite right! That’s from the great musical MY FAIR LADY. BUT GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME!, he goes on to sing.
Many people need a bit of assistance to make sure everything is in place for their big day.
I’ve just started working on my second wedding speech in the last three weeks. Not ‘my’ wedding speech in the sense of it being my wedding you understand. Helping, in this case, two grooms to get their thoughts together and shape them into some kind of speech fit for the occasion.
There’s been a bit of a lull – for understandable reasons – so it’s good to see them reappear. I love working on wedding speeches. It’s like a working on a scene from a play – but the play’s ‘real’ of course, not something to be spoken or sung about eight times a week on a West End stage.
In my acting days I was in the Stephen Sondheim musical COMPANY. There’s a pre-wedding scene there where the bride has a mini nervous-breakdown as she prepares for the ceremony. Paul, her groom-to-be sings, TODAY IS FOR AMY AMY I GIVE YOU THE REST OF MY LIFE… perhaps he’s rehearsing his wedding speech.
She sings, to the imagined guests congregating in the church, PARDON ME, IS EVERYBODY HERE? BECAUSE IF EVERYBODY’S HERE I’D LIKE TO THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING TO THE WEDDING…I’D APPRECIATE YOU GOING EVEN MORE…
Hopefully there aren’t too many brides, or grooms, with wedding-nerves like that: she does go through with it in the end. Her main fear is that he, Paul, is so good, and that perhaps she is not good enough.
I have very often worked with wedding speakers who think they’re quite up to the getting married part of the wedding but not quite convinced about their speech-giving capabilities.
I had a father-of-the bride who asked me if it might be possible for someone else to give his speech. I said I thought this might be a bit upsetting for his daughter. ‘What about if I could do it in another room, not where the guests are…I don’t want to have to look at people…’ he then said.
I’ve had best-men, full of fear, ‘I said I would never never do this again…not after the last time…I’d decided I would just ad-lib my way through, and then stood there unable to remember anything I wanted to say.’
I do also offer to do a bit of script-editing – and I’ve more than once ended up writing the whole speech, when, usually the groom, is so busy doing all the other thousand-and-one things that wedding prep demands that they run out of time and energy. ‘What did she say…and then what did you say?’, I ask, sitting at the computer with my fingers poised. ‘And then what happened?’.
I always insist, they have to speak whatever I’ve written, out-loud, a good few times, to see if it feels right for them. And then we change any words or phrases that don’t sit comfortably.
And I love that there is a timer on these proceedings. That wedding date might have been firmly in the diary for months. So we know we’ve got to get the work done!
The secret, if there is a secret, is to find your way of saying what you want to say. They are the very best speeches. Yes you might find interesting ideas on the internet. But will it be what you need to express to assorted loved ones on that special day.
I’m afraid that I can’t resist quoting from a few emails I’ve received after clients have done their wedding speeches:
Alan, just to let you know that my speech went extremely well and I managed to get over my nerves and enjoyed the day! Many thanks for your help and advice.
Alan, just a quick note to thank you for your help with my speech. It went really well and despite some crippling nerves beforehand, as soon as I got into the speech I felt completely comfortable, which is largely down to you. The weekend went perfectly and the speeches played a large part of that. I will recommend your services to other soon to be grooms!
I wanted to write a quick note to say an enormous thank you for all your kind words, support and help along the way in getting me across the line with the speech. It was a great success, and I somehow managed to actually enjoy it (!) whilst up there in front of the masses!! I had an overwhelming reception and response after too, with a huge number of people being incredibly complimentary, which was unexpected and hugely flattering. Thank you for everything, I feel hugely indebted to you.