Meghan Markle is reportedly set to break away from tradition by delivering a speech at her spring wedding.
The bride-to-be, who will marry Prince Harry in Windsor Castle on 19 May, is thought to be planning a few words of affection towards her new husband, with a handful of jokes thrown in for good measure.
For many, the prospect of delivering a speech can be nerve-wracking enough, without the added pressure of completely foregoing centuries of tradition and making your mark. So where do you begin when it comes to delivering an Oscar-worthy bride’s speech?
Wedding planner Susie Evans tells HuffPost UK: “First and foremost, remember you are with your friends and family and not a group of strangers so stand tall, breathe and look at all your guests with a big smile before you even say a word.”
Michelle Shulman, who runs La Belle Cake Company, gave a five-minute speech at her wedding 20 years ago because her husband hated public speaking.
“Back then it was very against the ‘norm’ and did raise a few eyebrows,” she recalls. “I filled my speech with emotion and humour as my speech was immediately after my father’s, so I was a little emotional, but I bought it back with a few humorous comments.”
London-based wedding planner Andri Benson says there are no set rules when it comes to delivering a bride’s speech. That said, she advises to “take the speech as an opportunity to speak from the heart and share what is meaningful to you”.
A good place to start, for example, is with gratitude - thank your guests for attending, as well as your bridal party, family and friends for their help. Evans adds you might even want to mention those who couldn’t be at the wedding, such as deceased or ill family members.
Everyone agrees that the main focus of your speech should be your partner. Benson explains: “Talk about what you mean to each other and your hopes for your future married life. Everyone loves a story so tell your guests about your life together - how you met, how you first knew your partner was the ‘one’.”
Emma Killick married her wife in August 2016. “As there were two brides, I felt at least one of us should do a speech. Plus we didn’t want the speech section to be really short with just two fathers of the brides and a best man speech.
“My wife is usually the one who takes the ‘protector and provider’ role - so I wanted to do something nice to surprise her and tell everyone there how much I love her and how beautiful she looked.”
Wedding planners agree that the perfect length of speech is about five to 10 minutes. Note cards (or notes on your phone) are useful in case you completely blank on the day and it’s totally worth practising your speech a few times before then. Wedding planner Carolyn Louise recommends practising in front of someone close, such as your mum or bridesmaids, before the big day: “The more you practise, the more confident you will feel giving the speech.”
Evans adds that you should try and look directly at your guests when speaking. “Try and pause before you speak to avoid those unnecessary ‘um’ and ‘ers’,” she advises. “Your guests will appreciate this, allowing them time to listen to your speech.”
Benson suggests that if you struggle with writing a speech, you could use words from a poem, favourite song or lines from a film to help express what you can’t find the words for.
Last but not least, it’s always good to wrap the speech up by making a toast to your guests and your new partner. Plus, your throat will thank you for it.
“My biggest tip is to enjoy it,” Evans adds. “It is a once in a lifetime experience to deliver a speech at your own wedding, so enjoy every last second of it.”