To Speak or Not to Speak; that is the Question!
By Kara Schultz
Wedding Photographer, Kara Schultz – Storyteller
Many people don’t know in my previous life, I wrote and gave a lot of speeches, some in front of just a small crowd, others in front of hundreds. Being a communications major, I understood and had to study the differences in speeches and what made a good speech and a bad speech. As a wedding photographer, I see more speeches than most do in a year, some are great, some are not so great so here’s a good guide on what to do and what not to do.
Time – first, under 5 minutes is best, under 3 is even better. For speeches at a wedding, most people are hungry, in between courses and generally have been drinking through cocktail hour, their attention span is sort, make it short and sweet. Time yourself reading it aloud at the pace you are going to be giving it. Do not read it to yourself, not aloud, you will think it’s shorter than it really is, always read it aloud to actually judge the time.
It’s a toast not a roast – while you may think it’s funny, don’t roast your friends, they may feel uncomfortable or grandma will be in the front row at their wedding. If you want to spill some dirt on them, do that at the bachelor/bachelorette party instead of at the wedding in front of all the guests.
Ditch the inside jokes – one is fine. 5 minutes about how you and the bride or groom only understand is just boring and you’ll lose your audience, this often turns into the previous category, the roast and it’s just not appropriate and may make the bride or groom feel uncomfortable.
Past relationships – don’t mention them at all. End of story.
Memorize your speech – Memorize it and deliver it to whoever asked you to give the speech. Not only does it look bad in pictures when you have a paper hiding your face but it also shows that you really cared and took your part seriously in the wedding. And if it’s under 3 minutes, you can do it! Bullet points on a 4×6 index card that is sitting on the table is ok but don’t read it. You will give a more emotional speech without the paper.
Actually write out what you’re going to say – If you’re going to say something more than a few lines, write it out. Do not try to fly by the seat of your pants and not be prepared for this. The couple has trusted you to take this job seriously and not preparing for it does not show them that.
Jokes are only sometimes okay – again, back to the roast comment. If you’re not laughing all the time with your friend, don’t try to be the jokester on the wedding day. Wish them well in the future and give them a cheers, you don’t need to go on for a long time and don’t try hard to be funny, it will only look like you’re trying too hard.
These are just some guidelines for speeches, but things that I have seen over and over again. There are exceptions to some of these rules, but you have to really know how to give speeches to do so. The best ones are ones that come from your heart, are meaningful and actually for the couple.