We write memorable, sensitive wedding speeches that the celebrants will listen to again, in future years, with pride and a smile. A speech that engages audiences and brings applause from, and pleasure to, all family and friends.
How did the business start and how long has it been going?
Being a professional writer, I was often asked by brides, grooms, best men, and maids of honour whether I could help write their wedding speeches as they ‘didn’t know where to start’. I thought to myself: ‘Now, that sounds like an opportunity to fill a niche!’
Who works at The Wedding Speech Expert?
I head up a team of professional writers and presentation coaches.
What is your background and how are you qualified to create speeches for others?
Being an established author, an international motivational speaker and speaker coach, for over 20 years, I believe I have the relevant experience to help write speeches and show people how to deliver them.
Great Speech Writing provides speeches and presentations for weddings, international conferences, high-profile events, think tanks, dinners and a wide-range of social occasions. Our sole focus is to help clients write and deliver a speech that we would be proud to give ourselves.
How did the business start and how long has it been going?
I worked in the City wondering if this was all there was to professional life. I had always loved writing and found myself spending my summer weekends writing groom and best man speeches for friends and family. In 2005 I put a single classified ad in Private Eye offering my services as a speech writer. This attracted some interest, so I decided to place a second ad. Within two years, interest had grown so fast that I decided to take the plunge and develop a full-time speech writing business.
I now manage a small team of writers from my office in Highgate, and split my time between running the business and writing.
Great Speech Writing now has private and business clients based all over the world. They range from senior people in the private and public sectors giving high profile speeches, presentations and pitches, to best men, fathers of the bride and nervous grooms worried about their wedding speeches.
On first inspection you’d probably think a wedding would rank somewhere between, “Small girl with ice-cream” and “parcel delivery” on your average bloke’s internal list of terrifying situations to be confronted with. But when you start to break it down the Big Day contains a number of situations that rank wayyyyy higher on the Terrifying-O-Meter; perhaps even somewhere between “Rooney broken bone” and “getting things caught in zips.” So what is it that’s giving your groom, best man or father of the bride a nasty case of wedding nerves?
Walking down the aisle
Sounds stupid doesn’t it? The bride’s the one who has to do the aisle-walking dressed in the big frock and pokey shoes and yet the father of the bride is the one who’s sweating over it. Why? Well mostly because it’s his big moment. All those eyes turn towards him, he has to stick to that weird slow-walk rhythm and he knows that at the end of the aisle he has to hand his daughter over to some spotty oik he’s only met twelve times.
How to combat: Practice makes perfect on the walk and try to have the big, “You know I’ll always love you Dad” talk a month or so before, not in the car on the way to the church.
Saying his vows right
I do, just two little words that give men more problems than nearly any other. In this case though it’s not the weight of the ceremony or the pressures of commitment that petrify him, it’s the sheer bloody simplicity. Someone says the words and you just have to repeat them, that’s easy! Exactly, so you’d be really stupid if you messed them up wouldn’t you?
How to combat: Get hold of the text of the wedding ceremony you’ll be using and go through it a few weeks before. You can even practice if you like. Then it’s up to the registrar or vicar to put you at ease. Fortunately, they’re nearly all very good at their job and if you schedule in a meeting a few weeks before then they’ll help put you at ease.
This one is perhaps the most understandable. After all, writing a wedding speech is difficult enough when you consider the formalities and the etiquette you need to observe, and that’s before you factor in that it’s supposed to be eloquently emotional (the groom/father of the bride) or effortlessly entertaining (best man). Twin that with most people’s natural hatred of public speaking and you’ve got the perfect storm of fear.
How to combat: If they’re struggling to write it send them to a professional speechwriter like Burn The Toast or Great Speech Writing for help with their speeches for weddings. Alternatively, move the speeches to before the dinner, restrict everyone to toasts only or cancel them altogether.
Ahhh, where would the romantic comedy genre be without this old trope, that secretly men fear the idea of living with a woman more than they fear sharks, fire, or sharks on fire? It’s almost unheard of for men to actually act anything like the male characters from Friends. The closest most men will ever get to the commitment question is when one of their more laddish mates says, “You know that means you can only sleep with one woman for the rest of your life?” A question that’s easy to contend with because the friend in question last had sex in 2001.
How To Combat: Ignore it. He’s bought the ring and gone down on one knee, he’s not about to flit now.
About a month ago I was asked to be Best Man for a very good friend of mine. Like most people, although I was honoured to be asked, one of my first thoughts was – “I’m going to have to write a speech. AAARRRGGGHHH!”
I have never been best man for anyone before, but I did of course give a speech at my own wedding. The groom’s wedding speech though I believe is relatively simple in comparison. The groom is generally just expected to say a few thank yous, say how much he loves his newly crowned wife, say how fantastic the bridesmaids look and what an amazing day it has been. The best man’s speech on the other hand is expected to be a witty and funny insight into the groom’s past that will not only produce lots of laughs, but will also not offend anyone and will contain a fair amount of sincerity as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I was nervous about my speech when I was the groom. I am not a great public speaker and would have preferred it if tradition had missed the bit where the groom says his piece. But I was in front of my friends and family, and was basically just saying what had come from my heart. When the time came I was actually ok about it. I think the adrenaline of the day helped a lot and I just went with it, did what was ‘expected’ of me and sat down to watch my best man do a fantastic job of entertaining our guests with tales of my past misdemeanours.
Now it’s my turn to be the headline act and, although the wedding is not until next year, I am already getting a funny feeling in my stomach every time I think about it. Luckily though I will not be completely unprepared, as The Wedding Community’s speech writing expert Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speechwriting has sent me a copy of his fantastic booklet “The Great Speech Writing Guide – The Best Man”.
This handy A5 sized booklet takes you through every aspect of the best man’s speech, from planning and preparation, to writing a draft, fine tuning and delivery techniques. The booklet inspires you rather than tells you what to say, meaning you can take a lot of the points on board and create a speech that is totally unique.
To start with, Lawrence takes you through the basics of preparing for your speech – How to ensure you keep it relevant so it works for each group of people who will be hearing it, how to judge the suitability of your potential material, where to gather your material from, how to play to your strengths, potential pitfalls and the “Must Haves” and “Might Haves”. This all helps you to decide what you should, might and can’t include.
Once all this groundwork has been done you should be in a good position to start putting pen to paper. Lawrence then explains how to structure your speech, how you should actually write it to make delivering it easier and how to decide what goes into the final cut, and once you have your completed speech the advice doesn’t stop there.
There are pointers on how to practice your speech, who will be speaking and when, whether to have your speech down on paper, cards or memorise it, what to do if things don’t go entirely to plan, how to deal with a heckler and how to deliver your speech.
Finally there is an at-a-glance action plan that goes over the key points again for before, during and after your speech.
I would highly recommend this booklet. It has made me feel more confident about my speech and I will certainly be going back to it when the time comes for me to start planning my masterpiece.
If you would like to treat yourself or someone to a copy they are just £5 (+ 99p postage) and can be ordered here or you can email Anna at Great Speech Writing – firstname.lastname@example.org.