October 22, 2013
Writing your perfect wedding speech
You’re getting married! He finally popped the question: “Will you sign the prenup here and here?”
Oh, and he asked The Big One, too. Since you said yes, Vera Wang has been gowning, Jimmy Choo, shoeing. Mothers have been kvelling. Daddies have been liquidating portfolios — and that’s just for the cake.
Now you have to write your speech. And you want it to be worthy of your sparkling day. Here are a few suggestions that never miss.
Dig for original thoughts, not what the rest of the world has already recycled. Aren’t you more special than that? Surely you don’t want your speeches clogged up with clichés.
Don’t expect your remarks to pop out whole and perfect in 10 minutes. Start jotting down notes. In those notes, make a list of things you might want to include. Like a grocery list. Don’t cross anything out. Save it all. There are no wrong answers. You can choose the best items later; now you’re just scribbling down ideas and feelings.
On your “grocery list,” instead of “linguini, zucchini, scaloppine and gum,” you might write, “Just thinking about you makes me happy.” Then start a new page for all the reasons you’re honored to be your fiancé’s life partner. After that, tell a story or two about your courtship, and you’ve already got a good start on your wedding speech. See?
Procrastinating is normal. Even with everything you do to avoid writing, the warm-up is part of any creative process. Each warm-up is different. While you’re doing it, you will feel completely nuts. But you aren’t.
As an example, here’s what I do. While getting ready to write, I go shoe shopping, take long walks, devour candy corn (Brach’s brand only), lock my phones in the trunk and grab my writing ritual stuff: a blue glass of water, a second chair on which I rest my right foot, and Post-its saying “I can do it I can do it I can do it” that I hang around my computer monitor. Next, I roll my shoulders backward and forward, stretch my jaw six times, and finally type something silly, like, “If Brad Pitt divorced Angelina Jolie and begged me to marry him on Wilshire Boulevard in rush hour traffic, I’d have to say no because I love you and…”
At that point, I actually have something on paper, and I’m playing with the words, instead of clobbering any syllable that isn’t perfect. I revise and revise and revise. Eventually, something clicks in my gut saying I’m finished.
Here are five additional tips for writing your wedding speech.
• Start early. Don’t wait until the flowers flop over before you commit quality time to what you want to say. As soon as that ring is on your finger, set aside five minutes a day.
• Practice. Once your speech is finished, rehearsing will help you relax. Honest.
• Be brief. This is about love, not a debate on health care.
• Say what you feel, what only you can say because nobody but you is you.
• Be a little funny, a little teary, and finish on a happy note.
To show you the importance of choosing every word carefully, I was contacted many years ago by The Hershkowitz (not his real name). He had already asked a remarkable lady to marry him, twice, and got “no way” both times. So he asked me to write his marriage proposal.
I did. She said yes. He and Julie have been married 27 years.
Now the pressure of the proposal is behind you and your fiancé. And as you approach your wedding, you have all the tools to be sure that somewhere inside you there’s a basket of beautiful words from which to choose just the right syllables for your one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime wedding speech.
Molly-Ann Leikin is an executive speechwriter and Emmy nominee living in Santa Monica. Her Web site is anythingwithwords.com.