A Beginners Guide to Readings & Speeches

If the mere thought of public speaking leaves you tongue-tied, fear not. Here’s how to banish those tumbleweed moments!

Readings and speeches are a lovely way to personalise your big day but for most of us, delivering those words can be a daunting task. So if you are hiding behind your hands and considering faking Laryngitis, take a deep breath because the good news is that with a few simple coaching tips, just about anyone can deliver some winning words. Here’s how to move your audience to tears, for all the right reasons!

While including a reading is not a legal or religious requirement, most couples choose to include two or three to help make their ceremony unique. Readings are commonly used to reflect a couple’s love and commitment to each other, along with hopefully bringing some romance, fun or humour to the occasion.

Including a few readings is also a great way to give a special role to close friends or family who are not already part of the wedding party. Being given a wedding reading is a great honour and most people will be over the moon to be asked (once they have had a stiff drink, that is!).

If you are having a civil ceremony you have lots of freedom in terms of what can be used- anything from a poem written by your nephew to lyrics from your favourite song can work brilliantly. The only rule is that your reading cannot contain any religious or spiritual references, so be sure to have your chosen text approved by your registrar beforehand.

If you are having a church wedding, your choice will be a little more limited. Christian services usually incorporate one or two passages from the Bible to reflect the underlying spiritual element to the ceremony – sometimes with an additional non-religious reading. What will or will not be accepted as a reading largely depends on who will be conducting your ceremony.

Once you have got your readings sorted, you will then need to tackle the two words guaranteed to strike fear in any (sane) man or woman. The speeches. Well delivered, they become one of the most intimate and memorable parts of a wedding. But done badly, the whole experience can make a Bride want to jump head first into her wedding cake. Traditionally given after the wedding breakfast, the usual running order for speeches is for the father of the Bride to speak first, followed by the Groom and then the best man- but many modern couples are now choosing to have their speeches before sitting down to eat. And the Bride, Bridesmaids or mother of the Bride may also like to say a few words.

Knowing what to say is admittedly tricky, but thankfully the perfect speech does not depend on writing Apollo-worthy jokes or channelling power ballad passion. Being yourself usually does the trick. Relax because anything remotely funny is guaranteed to get a laugh at a wedding because you are surrounded by people who love you.

We love alternative speeches! When Mcfly’s Tom Fletcher decided to sing and not speak his wedding thank yous, his guests, and over nine million people on YouTube listened – could this work for you?

Finally, remember to keep your family and friends on side by thanking the people you should! It is usually the father of the Bride’s duty to thank all of your guests for coming, to compliment his daughter on how amazing she looks and to welcome her new husband to the family, before toasting the Bride and Groom at the end.

The Groom should then remember to thank guests and both sets of parents, say a few gushing words about his Bride and best man and thank and toast the Bridesmaids (yes there is a lot of thanking to be done!). And last but not least, the best man’s job is to talk about the happy couple and embarrass the Groom before toasting the Bride and Groom for the final time. Well, if something is worth toasting, it’s worth toasting twice, right?

Jessica at Gosfield Hall

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