For the past 20 years I have coached numerous speakers, from self-important politicians to driven business leaders. The tips and advice were the same for both women and men.
Should advice for the bride be different to that for the groom? Today the answer is, surely, no!
We have come a long way since Jane Austin who portrayed her female characters crocheting, while waiting patiently for their D'Arcy. The sentiment of that beautiful opening line rings false: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
While most wedding ceremonies place the bride in the starring role, historically marriage as an institution owes more to male influence. The word itself comes from the Latin "mas" meaning masculine. The Anglo-Saxon father saw marriage as a way of expanding the labour force. Brides stood, as now, to the left, allowing the groom freedom to use his sword (to fight off 'bride-kidnappers'), best man being chosen for defensive skills.
The tradition of three male speakers, FOB, groom and best man is perhaps not surprising but today, anyone can speak- mothers, best women and, of course, the bride.
These ten tips will help any speech.
Start preparing early. Procrastination causes needles pressure as the big day gets nearer.
Do your research. Gather all the background, facts anecdotes, before putting pen to paper. Try mind mapping.
Begin by saying thank you. To someone for something! It's a great way to start your speech. Single out the person by name and lead the applause.
Tell stories, not jokes. Unless you are an Amy Schumer let yourself off the hook of being a stand-up comic. Your audience will lap up personal stories, told naturally.
Hang it on a thread, a narrative that holds the speech together. Your stories can build it to add interest and memorability.
Don't embarrass anyone. Sometimes a story wildly funny to many can be cringingly awful for a few. It's not worth the cheap laugh.
Don't go on and on. Your gown can be as long as you like but when it comes to your speech keep it short. 3 to 7 minutes.
Don't read from your script. As your eyes look down you 'dismiss' your audience. Prepare brief 'signpost' notes to glance at if needed.
Rehearse for confidence. Nerves are natural but, like an actor, you should rehearse to someone. The more you rehearse more confident you will be.
Be yourself, but better. Michelle Obama lets her feelings show and speaks with an authenticity that sets her apart from any speaker on the world stage, man or woman.
Unaccustomed as I am...: The Wedding Speech Made Easy by Michael Parker is out tomorrow.