By Michael Davenport, professional wedding speech writer.
The style of speaking at weddings has changed over the years. What was once exclusively a male reserve has now thankfully opened up to include the Chief Bridesmaid/Maid of Honour, Mother of the Bride as well as an opportunity for the Bride herself to hold the floor.
But the one thing that hasn't changed and still unites both sexes is the sheer terror involved in getting to your feet in front of a room full of people and speaking for up to 10 minutes without a quaver in your voice.
At my own wedding I adopted the Scottish tradition of having all the speakers perform their duties before the meal. It meant that they could all enjoy the dinner rather than try to wash it down with the attendant nervous acid over their forthcoming address.
The fact is, however, if you're not used to public speaking the prospect of giving a speech is somewhat daunting whenever you have to give it.
But as with most fears it's the thought of it rather than the actual act itself. Most speakers find that, if their first joke is received well, they're really rather comfortable holding court. Some even start to milk it. It is, after all, one of the easiest speeches a person ever has to give. You're not being paid and everybody is on your side because you're all celebrating the same happy occasion.
Having spent a number of years writing wedding speeches to order via an internet website I've had a lot of feedback from Best Men, Grooms, Mother, Fathers and Bridesmaids and it appears the two key elements of a successful performance are obtaining a speech you're comfortable with and sufficiently rehearsing it.
You don't have to have memorised every word but knowing what the rhythm of your speech is and being comfortable with the text will make for a more stress free experience.
Actually writing a speech, however, is something that the majority of people will put off. It can be expensive to engage the services of a really good speech writer so when Endeavour Press approached me about publishing some value for money e-books for every conceivable wedding speaker I saw it as an opportunity to create a template into which could be inserted their own personal touches. Providing a substantial piece of text to customise takes the fear out of staring at a blank piece of paper and I've received a lot of positive responses about the series so far.
Weddings nowadays are also occasions that can be immediately shared via social media websites and often there are photos of the wedding party online before the photographer had had time to download and print the official photos. These are elements that can be fun to acknowledge in a 21st century wedding speech.
But the one thing that doesn't alter is that everyone wants their speech to be unique and by removing the necessity of constructing the traditional scaffold that houses those stories and reminiscences makes the writing process exactly what it should be - fun.