A couple of years ago I was a groomsman at a friend’s wedding. Living in the UK, I had no idea what a groomsman was, but my buddy was marrying an American girl, so she wanted the traditional English wedding to have some American undertones.
It turns out a groomsman is just the American equivalent of an usher. Someone who is important to the groom, and who the groom wants to be a visible part of the wedding.
So, that seemed pretty cool. Thing is, my buddy also asked me to make a speech, but not your usual end of dinner, stand up and tell a few jokes type of speech.
He wanted me to stand up in the church and be part of the core ceremony, by reading a passage from a book or reciting a poem.
Dang, I figured this was way trickier than the usual make fun of the bride, tell your pal he’s a slob and then turn it all around and tell everyone they are beautiful at the end of the wedding speech, raising a glass, blaah, blaah, blaaah.
This church wedding speech had to be more of a crafted, sensible, poetic outpouring of metaphor. I was screwed.
I’m not religious. All the evidence points to us having one shot at this life and there’s no eternal reward waiting for us. I figure we should be moral, kind and empathetic because it’s the right thing to do, not because of any ill-promised eternal reward.
Anyways, that meant that a reading from the bible was out. Plus, I’d rather say something that gives meaning to the occasion. The only way that’s completely possible is by writing something specifically for the situation in hand.
So how did I go about writing my wedding speech? And if you’re in the same position, how do you go about writing a groomsman’s speech, an usher’s speech or a best man’s speech?
The main thing is to write it in the first place. Yup, that’s definitely the most important part. If you don’t write it down and you try to free-style it on the day instead, you will be in a whole top-hat-and-tails world of pain. Truth. So write some stuff, yeah?
The hardest thing I find with writing a speech is the starting point. I really struggle with coming up with those first tiny seeds of ideas that can spread out into a vocal tapestry.
The way I get around this is by forgetting about the structure to start with and just writing down anything that comes into my head. I don’t worry about the order, the story or any themes. I just write. When I have enough ‘stuff’ I delete the meaningless things and begin ranking what’s left into some kind of order. That gives me the loose framework to start to build on.
From there, I fill in the gaps, clean it all up and I’m almost done.
Give it a shot. Writing a speech this way may help you as well.
Now, very importantly, once you’ve written it, read it. Read it out loud, get used to the cadence and add some feeling to it. Once you’ve read it out loud a few times, read it out loud in front of somebody: your girlfriend, your brother or sister, a buddy or even the mail man, just so you get comfortable with reading it to a human audience. No, pets, cuddly toys or dollies do not count, you chump.
You probably only need to do the ‘reading to a human’ thing the once.
The delivery is almost as important as the words that you say, so the more time you invest in reading through what you’ve written, the more confident you’ll be in the content and the more natural you’ll feel when delivering it.
And don’t be afraid to change things. Saying something out loud is a lot different to reading it in your head, so what seemed to work when it was written down may make you sound like an idiot when you say it.
Change stuff that doesn’t work, monkey around with the order and finesse that sucker until you’ve written a wedding speech that you’re proud of.
All this advice applies whether you’re writing a best man’s speech to read after dinner or, like me, you’ve been asked to stand front and centre during the ceremony itself and throw out something significant.
I hope this has all been of use to you. Here’s my groomsman’s wedding speech that I delivered at the church for my good buddy. Maybe this will be of use to you for some ideas too, though it’s not really the stuff of after-dinner speaking, it’s a bit too flowery for that.
And that’s the most important thing to remember: make sure that your speech fits the occasion. Oh, and just enjoy it, stand in the moment and soak it all up!! Good luck, you crazy kid. Be a sensation.
We all move along our separate journeys, our anchors shifting and dragging as time passes and times change.
Chains and bonds break and are reformed as we go our different ways, traveling our routes to explore the worlds we are presented with, but always returning to our natural home: a place within the mind, not a location on the planet.
And though we may see magic in this world, the true magic is hiding within the relationships that we build and the people that we call our friends and loved ones. This is the magic that we discover beyond the fringes of our world, these are the hidden dimensions and these are the answers that await us.
Just as our hearts control the flow of our blood and our minds control the flow of our ideas, the companions that we choose to take on the journey control the flow of our happiness. A happiness that Mark and Olivia have discovered in each other. A happiness that is love and will be their inner companion as the external world becomes illusion and their vows expand across their future universe.
And their companionship on this journey is sealed within us all today, as superficial elements fall away and the bond of love is shown to us all.
Time passes and times change as the anchors shift and drag, carrying us all over different paths, letting us drift away and then bringing us together, though never to return in quite the same way.
But for now we all float here in a lake of expectation, united by these two people that we care for, celebrating the next stage of their journey together.
And as time becomes encased within time, many friends and travelers will join in the lives of Mark and Olivia and many will depart, but from the ever-changing kaleidoscope will flow a constant. A glimmer that will forever lay beneath the surface. A commitment and a love that they will carry from this day. In their minds, in their hearts and in their journey together.