Weddings are spectacular feats of vision, organization, and love. A lot of tiny details go into making such a huge, significant event.
There are often so many details, i.e., photographers, venue, food, guests, decorations, and the rest, that more personal details frequently get overlooked.
Enter speeches and vows.
When making big declarations with the spotlight shining, finding the right words can suddenly become challenging. We can all probably name at least one rom-com that features a distressed groom-to-be agonizing over his vows the night before his wedding day.
The same goes for the maid of honor speech.
But writing these heartfelt presentations doesn’t have to be a struggle. In fact, writers like Katelyn Peterson believe it shouldn’t be. That’s why she created her site, WeddingWords.us, to help the everyday wedding participant articulate their feelings in a meaningful way.
After helping her dad write her grandfather’s eulogy, she learned she had a gift. She knew how to put all feelings and emotions into powerful words. Now she wants to help you!
Katelyn gives you some tips on:
- How to keep your vows brief yet still sentimental
- When you should start writing your speech and vows
- What to include in your speech
So take a couple of deep breaths, and keep reading!
Plenty of people give speeches at weddings. In a more traditional sense, the couple’s parents may give speeches at the rehearsal dinner while the best man and maid of honor give speeches at the reception.
Regardless of how traditional or non-traditional your wedding is, here are a few tips on writing those speeches.
While a speech doesn’t need to follow this structure, it can help organize your thoughts:
- Introduce yourself
- Memorable stories/qualities about your friend
- Personal stories/qualities about their new spouse
- Who they are as a couple
- Your wishes for their marriage
- Strong closing
Using this wedding speech template, you can begin to formulate your speech. Many people find that it’s easier to coordinate what exactly they’d like to say when they have an outline to follow.
Keep It Brief
Katelyn strongly suggests keeping your speeches short, sweet, and to the point. That’s not to say your address shouldn’t have sentiment, but it also shouldn’t be more than ten minutes long.
In fact, she recommends writing a speech between one and five minutes long. The longer you speak, the less impact your words have on the wedding guests.
Also, note the difference between a speech and a toast. These terms are often synonymous in the world of weddings, but toasts are often much shorter than formal speeches. If you plan to give a quick toast at the wedding reception, keep it to about five sentences.
Practice Your Speech
Katelyn also stresses this: practice, practice, practice!
One of the best ways to combat stage fright is to be prepared. Give yourself plenty of time to practice your speech alone and in front of a friend in advance. Be open to constructive criticism. Remember, this speech is not about you; it’s about your loved one. So, you want it to be natural, charismatic, and heartwarming.
Your words will flow better if you know your speech well, too. Getting very familiar with your words will allow you to make eye contact with the crowd.
That said, don’t try to memorize your speech. It’s perfectly fine to go up with a piece of paper or a couple of note cards in your hand. Katelyn additionally recommends printing the speech rather than reading from your phone.
Talk About Both Parties
Many maids of honor and best men make the mistake of only talking about the bride or the groom, respectively.
It’s important to remember that this day is about the bride and groom committing to one another, so be sure to mention both in your speech – whether it’s a quick story or words of encouragement.
Balance Humor and Sentiment
One final thing that Katelyn stresses is not to overdo it with comedy. Everyone loves a good laugh, but don’t force it. This isn’t your grand debut at a comedy club—it’s a sentimental, milestone event.
If you’re known for your humor and can come up with a couple of jokes, it’s okay to mix them in. Just don’t include too many.
And if humor isn’t your thing, don’t try too hard. Stick with what you know. Your loved ones chose you for this speech because they appreciate you for who you are.
A good rule of thumb for a quality speech is to maintain a good balance of humor and sentiment. Also, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say about the happy couple in front of your grandparents; save the embarrassing stories and crude language for the bachelor and bachelorette parties.
We all have varying levels of fear when it comes to public speaking, but it seems like those fears reach a peak when it comes to putting your most intimate, vulnerable feelings about your one true love out there for all of your extended family and closest friends to hear.
Wedding vows usually come with a lot of pressure, but Katelyn’s tips can help you make it through this daunting task while making a lasting impression on your spouse.
Just like with a speech, you can try following a basic outline to organize the structure of your vows. Try this pattern:
- Set the scene with a first impression or your favorite story about how you met
- Move on to things you admire about your spouse
- Detail your marriage promises (three to six commitments)
- Always end with an “I love you” in a way that’s special to your relationship
This structure obviously leaves many blanks to fill in, but that’s kind of the point. Your wedding vows shouldn’t be generic; they should be unique and specific to you and your spouse. But this structure can help you get a little more organized.
Schedule Time to Write
One of the worst things you can do for your vows is to wait until the last minute to write them. Writing your vows is an important part of the wedding planning process. No one wants to be that cliché character we mentioned earlier, so schedule some real time a couple of weeks before to sit and work on your vows.
Katelyn recommends several brainstorming sessions. You can start by writing sentences, notes, or even just words that describe your spouse and your relationship.
Pull from those notes later to construct your vows and piece together the best parts. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft, so don’t stress too much.
Consider Private Vows
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed about your vows, you might consider making private vows before your dream wedding.
Some couples will write their vows and read them together during their first looks. They’ll then simply use the traditional vows during the wedding ceremony.
Making private first look vows lets you express how you feel about your spouse-to-be without all of the pressure of public speaking. For many people, this allows them to be more open, vulnerable, and emotional.
Speeches and vows are significant moments during an important life milestone, but they don’t have to be scary or stressful. Using these wedding speech tips, you can turn your feelings into solid and meaningful words.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for more help creating an amazing wedding speech, you can check out Katelyn’s business WeddingWords, where she helps people like you write important speeches like these.
Read The Full Interview Transcript Below
Jake 00:00:04 Hey everybody. Welcome back to the wedding pioneer show. My name is Jake. I’m going to be your host today and today I’ve got a fantastic guest with us, uh, that I’m going to introduce it’s Katelyn Peterson of wedding words. So first of all, Caitlin, welcome to the show, how
Katelyn 00:00:17 You doing today?
Jake 00:00:19 Great, thanks for being here. So before we get started, obviously today, we’re going to get into, uh, the fantastic world of wedding speeches and writing vows and all of these, uh, exciting topics. But before we do that, I’m curious how you got into this business. So if you wouldn’t mind, give us a little background on yourself, you know, professionally and sort of how you got into this and, and what your, what your business is all about today.
Katelyn 00:00:44 Sure. So I studied journalism in college and how I got into this business specifically happened in the summer of 2017. I live in Brooklyn, New York, I’m originally from Michigan and I flew home to Michigan to attend my grandfather’s funeral. And my dad at the time was really struggling to write the eulogy for his dad. And so with my background in writing, he had me take a look at what he had already spent eight hours trying to come up with. And I said, you know, the details of what really make grandpa unique are what’s missing. And so I worked with him line by line to rewrite that eulogy by asking him questions. And then him telling me in his own words, what he felt about grandpa and using those details to rewrite the eulogy. So when I was done with it, he said with tears in his eyes, this is exactly what I wanted to say. I just didn’t know how to put it into words. So that experience made me think there have to be other people who have these milestone moments, where the two are really struggling to put their heart into words. And so fast forward a couple of weeks later, my now husband then boyfriend helped me throw up a website just to see if people were interested in hiring somebody to write their wedding vows and speeches. And now this is what I do full time.
Jake 00:02:03 Wow. Okay. So started then, like I’m just kind of curious on the business. So when you first put it out there and started offering this service, was it something that took off right away or did it take some time for people to find out about you and to get going a little bit?
Katelyn 00:02:20 It took a little while to gain some traction because people don’t know even today while it’s more popular, people still don’t know that this is a service that is available. You know, when you get engaged, you know, to book your photographer, a lot of people book their wedding planner, videographer your venue. These are all standard on your wedding to do lists itinerary, but hiring your Val writer or your speed brighter is not typically top of mind. And so I’ve gained more traction as people are just sort of Googling around for Val and speech writing tips, and then they stumble upon and realize, oh, I can hire somebody to help me do this. And then that’s when there’s this like sigh of relief people have that they don’t have to tackle this on.
Jake 00:03:04 That’s awesome. So I’m just curious, like, do some people struggle with the idea of like, especially a wedding, like if you’re giving a speech for your daughter or, you know, your husband, wife, whatever, do people struggle with the idea that like, it feels very personal. Like this should be my words and it feels a little weird, like having somebody a stranger write this for me, like, is that a struggle that some people have when they, when they first come to you
Katelyn 00:03:29 Beginning more so than now? I think that the pandemic helped to make things like zoom a household name. And so when people see that I conduct the interviews via a zoom video call like this, there’s already a sense of familiarity and comfort in knowing how you can connect like that. That was maybe foreign, you know, just before 2020, but there is still an element of that. And I think people are, are still surprised that in 20 to 50 minutes of speaking with me and then receiving the first draft of their speech, how I’m able to really synthesize their emotions and their thoughts from such a short period of time. But that’s where my background in journalism really comes into effect is I know how to ask the right questions, to get a lot of information in a short amount of time and to understand kind of the feeling and the sentiment behind just what they’re saying.
Katelyn 00:04:24 So they may tell me one thing, but behind that, they’re saying something else. And that’s where I’ll kind of dig into that more through that, like the journalistic interview style, a lot of these things will come to the surface. Many people tell me it feels like a therapy session after we talk because they come into it thinking, I’m going to tell you some of these fun anecdotes about my sister for her wedding and my maid of honor speech. And we ended up talking about things, you know, the relationship and how she helped her evolve into the woman she is today in ways that maybe she hadn’t really vocalized before or consciously thought of, but that are very key. Even if we’re not going to use those things word for word in the speech. They’re key for me as a speech writer to know what is the relationship dynamic life, to be able to place that tone and whatever energy we want to kind of push the speech forward.
Jake 00:05:16 Yeah. Very cool. I love it. So let’s talk a little bit about, we’re going to get into some specific speeches and pull out some of your advice and tips and some formulas maybe that work, um, that can help people that are struggling. But before we do that, let’s just talk basics for somebody who’s been asked to be in a wedding for the first time, not super familiar with this, like what roles in a wedding typically give speeches. Like, so I think the best man speech is a really common one. Like what else? Like who, who, who are the people you’re working with? And if there’s somebody that’s in a wedding party, like how do you know you’re going to be giving a speech you’re expected to give a speech?
Katelyn 00:05:54 No, that’s a great question. So this is of course us talking very broadly, like traditionally, but I always kind of have the caveat that weddings nowadays they’re made to break tradition and couples are so unique that they can make up whatever they want. So whatever advice I’m about to say is historically what might be done, but couples, you can do whatever you want. So, um, traditionally you would have at the rehearsal dinner, and this is, if we’re talking about a heterosexual couple, you would have the groom’s parents posting the rehearsal, the brights parents posting the Wayne Day. And the reason I mentioned that is because that kind of trickles down to who’s speaking at which events. So we’re not just talking about the wedding, the father of the groom, her mother of the groom may speak at the reversal. And then the father or mother of the bride may speak at the wedding in terms of people in the wedding party.
Katelyn 00:06:49 Those people typically are going to speak at the wedding and it’s traditionally going to be the best man and the maid of honor. And those are your key roles. I also recommend that the couple themselves in a speech, if only at one of those two events at the wedding, and it can be really short, it can be 60 seconds, but it’s nice for the couple to acknowledge their desk. Thank everybody for being there. And so those would be the key roles, but again, couples look completely different. And so their wedding party and her family dynamics, all of that, one of the things I love is like, I work with people who have all these different twists on their weddings. I’ve worked with more man of honors this year than I ever have. And that’s really fun to get, to see how brides aren’t just choosing, you know, their best girlfriend. They’re choosing the man that’s really important in their life to stand by their side. And so that’s why I have this big caveat at the beginning, because it’s hard to say what you should do. It’s really what you want to do.
Jake 00:07:47 Yeah, it makes sense. Very cool. Talk then a little bit about, um, in a similar vein, if you’re giving a, somebody who’s giving a speech versus somebody who’s giving a toast, um, I’m assuming that you’ve written both. So what are some tips there? You know, speech versus toast, like,
Katelyn 00:08:04 So in the context of a wedding speech and toast is usually used synonymously. If you’re getting down to the details, a toast is going to be something shorter, usually one to five sentences and a speech is going to be something longer, usually one to five minutes. But when somebody says, Hey, can you give the best man at my wedding? The couples probably expecting you to say more than a few sentences. So the toast part specifically is going to be that very end of your speech, where you raise your glass and you have a few words that people can choose to. But like I said, in the wedding industry, speech and toast, are you somewhat synonymously?
Jake 00:08:43 Okay, very cool. So what, what’s some general advice, obviously, uh, with your business, you’re writing the speech for the person, which is a great service, but then of course the person has to go out and execute, right? So words on a paper are one thing. Uh, but I would imagine that a lot of people that you’re writing for have a lot of anxiety, maybe they’re not super comfortable in front of people speaking. Um, so do you, you know, when you hand over a speech to somebody, like, do you give them any tips for kind of how to deal with those feelings? Like what would you say to somebody that’s struggling with that right now?
Katelyn 00:09:16 Absolutely. That is one of the main reasons people reach out to me is because they have a fear of public speaking, which is incredibly common. So I always like to tell people you’re not alone in that anxiety. And usually what happens is once we finalize the speech, people already feel a sense of relief because they can be confident in the words that they’re saying they don’t have to feel embarrassed or judged because they know that a lot of spot has been put into it. And it’s really representative of what they feel and what they want to say. So that right there is the first half, but that is only the first step. The second half is getting comfortable with. Now, like these vocalizing, these words that are printed on paper and the number one tip I have for that, it sounds maybe not that, you know, mountain moving, but it’s just a practice.
Katelyn 00:10:04 It practice reading the speech out loud several times, do it in front of somebody you trust to give you constructive feedback. Um, it might make you a little cringe-worthy at first, but do it like record yourself doing it and watch it back, do it in front of a mirror, all these things that you’ve probably already heard, but it, it really is key. And you just becoming more and more comfortable with it in terms of clients that I work with, I offer two different ways of helping them with public speaking. One is all of my clients who sign up for a custom speech writing service will receive a video of me giving public speaking tips once it’s done. So they’re able to watch that on their own side, take that feedback, put it into practice. Other people who really want to take their public speaking to the next level, actually sign up for another call with me where once the speech is done, they’ll read their call. They’ll read their speech over a video call and I’ll provide real-time feedback. So within that one hour call, they practice it as many times as they want. I let them know the things they’re doing really well, the things that they can work on and they’re able to practice that in real time.
Jake 00:11:09 Okay. Very, very nice. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about the best man speech. Um, and we’re going to get into a few different speeches and just kind of get your advice here. So when you’re writing or helping somebody out with a best man speech, uh, do you have a general template or an outline that you follow as far as like what to include, like, is that how systematic you’re doing it or how do you go about, so
Katelyn 00:11:33 When I work with clients, there’s, there are certain elements that I want to make sure we hit. You know, you want to make sure you talk about not just the person you’re standing up for in the wedding, but their new spouse as well. We want to make sure that you have a really strong closing that you introduce yourself at the beginning, but aside from hitting those key points, when I work with the way that I come up with the structure is based on our call. So I get the sense, you know, that there’s a certain theme that keeps coming up. Maybe, maybe you’re talking a lot about how your friend is very adventurous and they take every opportunity as a way to challenge themselves. Well, how can we not only show something about your friend through these stories that you have together, but then transition that into a, how are they going to bring a sense of adventure into career and how are they going to be a strong spouse because of that quality?
Katelyn 00:12:27 So when I work with clients, the first thing is really identifying a theme that we can illustrate stories through and tie into marriage. If you aren’t working with me and you’re sitting down to try to write a speech on your own, then the kind of structure I recommend would be to first start with an introduction, keep it really short. Uh, what I don’t recommend doing that, I think people give because they’re nervous is a lot of fluff at the beginning. We will starting by saying, oh, I’m not a great public speaker. So you’ve been warned or just so you know, this is my first time doing this. So, you know, be prepared. It’s, you know, that’s, that’s more for you than the crowd. And you’re already setting people up to judge you and question you, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do.
Katelyn 00:13:13 So just dive right by it, right in by having a simple one line intro. Hi, my name is Kaitlyn Peterson. I’ve known the bride since second grade and I’m honored to be her maid of honor here today. So you’re saying who you are, what your role is and how you know the couple, and then you can dive right into stories. So let’s say I’m a maid of honor standing up for a Bri. Then I’m going to dive into some stories about her qualities. I want to illustrate about her, that I really admire. And that section can be usually about a minute and then transition into talking about things I admire about her new spouse. Maybe some stories I have with them, then transition into who they are as a couple, any wishes I have for their marriage before tying everything together in a road, strong closing. So that’s my structure for somebody who’s working on a speech to keep in mind these different elements. So it’s not just heavy on the person you’re standing up for and you forget the other person or you know that you sit too long in any area or leave anything out.
Jake 00:14:16 Okay? Yeah. What you just said is one of my biggest pet peeves in speeches, and I’m no professional speaker, but I hae like inside. I just always cringe when somebody gets it, they’re like, I’m really nervous. It’s probably isn’t going to be very good. Oh, that’s just like,
Katelyn 00:14:31 It’s a way for people to feel kind of like when we announced our greatest spheres, they don’t feel as scary anymore. So I get the benefit in it, but it’s not really benefiting you because now people you’ve already set them up to just, like I said, be kind of watching these things that you don’t want them to notice. Even if you mess up, nobody’s going to notice. And at the end of the day, everybody has a fear of public speaking. And so when all the guests are watching, you they’re rooting for you. They want you to do really well and they can feel your nerves. Not because you’re showing them necessarily, but because their hands would be sweating if they were in your shoes. So you’re, you’re in good company. You can feel it to save space. And um, my other big tip is just look at the top of everyone’s head instead of in their eyes directly, it’ll look to them like you’re making eye contact, but it’ll make you less nervous.
Jake 00:15:30 That’s a good one. Talk a little bit about icebreakers specifically for the best man speech. Maybe the same would apply, I guess for maybe anybody maybe made them honor as well. But I think that’s a common thing people are looking for is how do I open up? How do I get this thing going? And so you talked about a concise little opening, but I’m just curious, like, are you a big fan of, you know, some kind of a humorous joke or story to like, get things going? Do you like that?
Katelyn 00:15:56 I love humor in speeches. I think that humor is necessary, but it’s also necessary to balance humor with sentiment. This is still a wedding. The couple wants you to know, wants to know what you really think of them. And once all of their guests to feel that as well. So, um, this, isn’t your opportunity to be a standup comedian and have it be your open mic night, but definitely inject some humor and have it be like a tennis match, you know, bounced between funny. I always say, you want to make them laugh and then you want to make them wipe a tear away. And ideally you want them to last throughout the beginning and end on them wiping a tear away rather than laughing. Cause you want that kind of like clutching like their heart, like, oh my gosh, that was so moving at the end.
Katelyn 00:16:40 Um, in terms of humor, I’m totally here for it, unless it’s a joke that we’ve already heard a hundred times that way, you know, refrain from a lot of those cliches, if you’ve heard it before. And that’s why it came to mind for you to potentially even the speech, chances are everybody else’s burden as well. So try to come up with something that is unique to the couple and your relationship with them. So think about your dynamic with the person who’s standing up for. What kind of jokes do you have if they’re inside jokes, don’t keep them inside for the wedding. Figure out a way to bring everybody into the joke with you. And if you don’t have a way to do that and weave the joke out because you’re going to have you and the bride laughing or the groom laughing, and that’s not enough people to, to be in on the joke.
Katelyn 00:17:26 So I don’t have specific jokes to recommend or icebreakers because I don’t believe in something that’s generic. I would say work with your strength of what’s in your lane. If you’re not a funny person, then don’t try to be funny. But, um, if you are somebody who is more playful and lighthearted definitely lean into that and play that, play that side of your personality up. And I always say your personality is whether you’re the, you know, the quiet wallflower or the life of the party. You want to bring 110% when you’re holding the microphone because your job is to engage all the guests that are in that room and you need to have the highest level of energy to be able to have people kind of, you know, have them engaged and feel the impact of the words that you’re saying. So
Jake 00:18:14 If I’m hearing you, you’re saying that you don’t don’t necessarily feel like you have to open up with a, you know, a one-liner or a joke if that’s not your thing and you’re not comfortable with it, but if you don’t do some cliche joke that everybody’s heard a hundred times exactly,
Katelyn 00:18:28 You don’t want to force it for the sake of being funny and specifically, you know, I have to bring up COVID since everyone, you know, at this point in time, it’s 2021. And a lot of people are affected by that is how to bring up COVID or not. So in 2020, I had a strong stance in don’t mention COVID at all. I got married in 2020, and I was so, I mean, the amount of replanning that went into our wedding, we had to uninvite 95% of our guests changed the venue. And at that point, you know, that’s all everyone was talking about. And so I just thought if we finally get to our wedding and people only want to talk about COVID and that’s what we hear the speeches like this, can we just not talk about it for this one day? Um, now that we’ve transitioned into 2021, my opinion on that has changed a little bit because life in the time of COVID has changed a little bit.
Katelyn 00:19:26 People are vaccinated, they’re getting out and doing things again, we’re enjoying life in the way that we knew before. So I’m not opposed to people mentioning COVID in their speeches this year, but there’s definitely a way to do it. And also to keep in mind, a lot of people lost, loved ones from this, and it’s a very sad and traumatizing thing that we’ve all been through. And so to be cognizant of the jokes that you make or how much time you give to COVID in your speech. So for parents who are hosting the event, you know, a way that I’ve worked with parents of the couple is to, is to say something like it means so much to have family and friends here to celebrate the love between this couple and having not got to celebrate with so many of you in person for the past year and needs even more to feel your presence here today. So that’s a way of acknowledging COVID without saying a paragraph saying, you know, the couples had to replan after three wedding dates in five venues and say, now like I’ve had people who, who have me reviewed her speeches. We talk about how all these things that went wrong. Cause the pandemic, those are the things let’s leave out and let’s just focus on like how joyful it is that we all get to be.
Jake 00:20:42 Yeah. That’s good advice. I like that. Very good. So we talked to about the best man speech, and you went in a little bit to at least in one of your examples about the, uh, like a maid of honor. Um, so I’m assuming those are similar speeches. Like you gave a really helpful kind of outline of how to, you know, if you’re constructing your own best man speech, I’m just curious, like, um, best man maid of honor, like, do you pretty much follow that same? Would you give the same advice to a maid of honors? The best managers? It’s
Katelyn 00:21:08 Pretty similar for both. I mean really whatever the role that you have in the wedding, it’s similar. You want to give a brief intro, how you are related to the couple, talk about each person in the couple, any wishes you have for, for them, their future, their marriage, and then a strong Posey. And that’s kind of the, the zoomed out structure. But if you are a parent, that’s going to look different than if you were the best friend or the sister or the brother, and you can play with those dynamics, but that’s kind of the general structure.
Jake 00:21:46 So I’ll ask you about one more that I’m just curious to get your thoughts on, which would be the father of the bride speech, which is another one that seems that people are frequently looking for some help on dad’s wanting to know, you know, what direction to go with this thing. So what about those speeches? Do they take on a different formula? And I guess how long should it be? Like, you know what I mean? Like what are some good things to get into? What are some things that maybe dash yep. That sort of stuff.
Katelyn 00:22:13 Absolutely. Yeah. I think, I mean, father of the bride speech is typically considered the most popular because historically it was the bride’s parents that would host the event and then the dad would take on the role of beginning speech. But to be honest, I see moms speaking just as often as debts now. I mean, at my wedding, my mom spoke instead of my dad and a big part of that was because he wouldn’t have been able to get through the speech without crying. And my mom is a great speaker. And so I think it’s really, as long as you have somebody, it can be a parent. It can be, if you don’t have parents who are active in your life, a mentor, somebody who you just feel, you’d be honored to hear from them. But to answer your question specifically around father of the bride, we tend to focus on stories from the daughter, from when she’s really young to the present moment.
Katelyn 00:23:08 So, you know, we don’t want to give this kind of biotic biography in chronological order of like her, she was born her first steps or first words I’ll hold these things, but finding kind of the temple moments of her life and the bond between the dad and the daughter and how that’s transitioning now to her becoming a married woman. And so for somebody, it may be a strong connection with sports that they share a bond over going to football games together, or that, you know, he really enjoyed taking her to every dance recital and how, you know, and then transition to talking about the first dance that they’re going to share at for wedding. And so just kind of finding fun stories from childhood that illustrate their relationship and her personality and then finding something to connect to the present day and her future merit.
Jake 00:23:57 Okay. All right. Good advice. What do you tell folks that, uh, do you have kind of a list of topics or just things that you should just never say in a wedding speech, like steer clear of these things?
Katelyn 00:24:11 Yeah, so, like I said, one of my biggest pet peeves is the fluffy intro. The talking about, you know, just kind of the, um, public speaking fears and nerves and all of that. The other thing is when it comes to jokes, I love humor, but let’s not roast a couple. So you want to find things that they’re going to appreciate that, you know, everybody kind of knows this trait about them. And it’s a kind of funny thing we can say, but if it’s something that is, you know, a quality that they’re going to be, self-conscious about maybe an anxiety they have that they’re gonna want to steer clear from that. This sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised, um, when it comes to speeches that I’ve seen, um, in anything that you wouldn’t say in front of your or someone else’s grandparents is like my rule of thumb.
Katelyn 00:25:02 So this is a joke that’s going to make grandma Shirley squirm in her seat, then best to save that for the bachelor or bachelorette party, because that’s easy. You can make a toast there that is as are rated, as you wish when it comes to curse words. Again, this might seem obvious, but curse words or something where I typically say don’t food in less. That’s how the couple of roles, as long as there are kids there where you’re going to upset those children’s parents and the couple is aware of it, then again, that’s, um, you kind of stuffing out the situation to know what is the vibe of the wedding and the couple, but in general, I think where people get hung up the most is in the humor element and not quite knowing how to play to the crowd directly. Also don’t feel like you have to memorize and speech.
Katelyn 00:25:49 This is a question I get asked all the time is, should I memorize it? And I always say, no, because if you forget one word or one line, your mind is going to go completely blank. It’s going to get tripped up, forget where you work. And no one is expecting you to have this memorize. I always say, look at somebody giving an acceptance speech at the Oscars, these actors and actresses, it’s literally part of their job to memorize lines. But when they go to give their acceptance speech, what did they all do? They bought a little piece of paper from their pocket or their purse, and they read their really short acceptance speech. So if they’re reading it, then no, one’s going to judge you for reading that. I just say, don’t read it from your phone because it looks distracting just being associated with being on technology. And there can be tech issues where Instagram notification pops up and all of a sudden lost your speech in the middle of it. So print, print your speech and credit couple copies case something happens.
Jake 00:26:44 Okay. I never thought about that. The, you know, it’s a good point for the people in Hollywood. If they need to print it out for their big moment, better do it too. Yeah. That’s, that’s probably also, I would imagine that’s kind of a calming thing, you know, to have your speech there written, maybe it takes a little bit of the pressure off yourself. You’ve got some comfort in totally blank here. I can look down and figuring out where I’m going. I think
Katelyn 00:27:09 Sometimes think, oh, it’ll be more heartfelt and emotional if I just say it without reading it. But I think it’s more emotional and heartfelt. If you’re able to have it down to where you’re so poised and polished that you don’t have to stare at the sheet of paper, but you can look up and make eye contact and no one’s going to make that connection of what you were still holding.
Jake 00:27:31 Okay. And then on like length of the speech, uh, you mentioned earlier, I think you said like one to five minutes, rough timeline, but anything beyond that, like are certain speeches supposed to be longer or shorter or is there a time where it’s like, you should never go past X? Like, what are you telling me?
Katelyn 00:27:47 Six minutes is the max. And I would say that’s reserved for the parents of the couple. Anything beyond that. There’s I always say it’s so much more challenging to communicate something in the shorter length of time than it is longer. We can all, I could talk for 20 minutes about anything, but to have to tell that same story in two minutes is much more challenging. What happens is you have greater emotional impact. And that’s, I use that word a lot impact because that’s really what you’re going for. When the microphone’s in your hands, you want to have impact in front of the couple and their guests and you want it to be emotionally engaging. And so if you’re standing up there for 10 minutes, it doesn’t matter how interesting your stories are. You’re going the longer you speak, the more impact you’re losing as every minute goes on because people are this over it. It just doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. It’s just, that’s, what’s going to happen, especially because you’re not the only one speaking, there’s typically going to be three or four people giving speeches. And all of this speech of buying should not go over 20 minutes. That’s when it starts to impact the wedding date, timeline of your dinner. You’re dancing, people are getting hungry. And so, um, yeah, I would say brevity is key.
Jake 00:29:09 You don’t want to be the guy out there keeping everybody from their dinner.
Katelyn 00:29:12 Right. And I’ve heard people tell me like, oh, I’ve received feedback that if it’s not 10 minutes, I shouldn’t even bother. And I don’t, I don’t know. Who’s giving that feedback because the majority of guests that I know who’ve sat through 10 minute speeches, they can’t bear it. My vows were about three to three and a half minutes to give you an idea. This is what I do for a living. And I, you know, I love my husband, but I could have probably said a lot more than I did in three and half minutes, but it wouldn’t have been as I think, articulate and meaningful.
Jake 00:29:40 Yeah. Okay. All right. So that gives everybody a pretty good idea of what they should be shooting for and how long to not go and ruin the wedding. So let’s talk as we’re wrapping up, I wanted to cover a couple of more things, both of which are services, um, that you offer. Uh, one is wedding vows, which you mentioned. So for couples that are, I presume writing their own wedding vows, you know, you can come in and kind of help them construct that. So maybe just in a general sense for somebody that is going to be, you know, writing their own vows, obviously they can hire you. And you’re just going to knock it out of the park for them and make them the star of the show. If somebody will, you know, DIY in this thing, um, how can they go about writing some, some good wedding vows? What are some tips you could give them on that?
Katelyn 00:30:27 So my first tip is to not wait until the last minute, a lot of couples procrastinate this wedding task because it’s so overwhelming and daunting to think about how am I supposed to convey all my love for this person in written form that I’m going to say in front of everybody else signed. Now it’s really intimidating. And so they put it off and we put it off and then it’s usually the week or the night before the wedding. So my first tip is to plan time, literally schedule it in your calendar time, work on your bowel, ready, the same way you would settle time to do your hair and makeup trial or your Tufts fitting. And then the other key is actually showing up to that time. And it’s easy to ignore it because it’s just you, that’s putting in the time of working on your vows, opposed to, you have to go to your dress fitting and there’s other people relying on you.
Katelyn 00:31:16 So maybe you even need to tag in your maid of honor, your best man, as an accountability partner to say, Hey, I saw on our shared calendar invite noon on Saturday, you’re working on your vows. How did it go? And to make sure you’re showing up and I would recommend booking three 30 minute blocks for brainstorming sessions. So where people get hung up is sitting down to write their vows and feeling like how, how can I write this perfect first draft, which doesn’t exist. So take the pressure off of you by not focusing on writing anything other than notes. So it’s going to be just like in school, a good old fashioned brainstorm. I call it a pen to paper exercise where it set a timer for 15, 20 minutes. And you do not lift your pen from the paper and just keep jotting down memories, feelings, anything that comes to mind about your relationship, your fiance, your future together, your hopes, your dreams.
Katelyn 00:32:12 So have a few of those sessions. Then you’re going to have your actual writing sessions and it’s not going to be as daunting because you’ll have material to reference. So you can look at all of these notes you have, and you’ll quickly see some themes of, oh, I’m, I’m talking a lot about how they always support me or how I always feel really seen and understood. So maybe I can write a section that’s focused on that before I go into some specific promises. So that’s kind of the, um, methodology I would recommend for how to actually make progress on your path when it comes to the structure that let’s say, there’s two parts you want to focus on. What a lot of couples do is they nail the words of affirmation part out of the park. They, they go on and on about all the things they admire about their partner, but the part that is often forgotten and it’s really the key to vows are the promises, because that’s what makes it, that are your promises of what we were committing to this person that you’d go into your marriage.
Katelyn 00:33:07 So I recommend anywhere between three to six specific promises, anything more than six, and it starts to do what we talked about earlier, where you lose impact. And it’s just overwhelming. So try to keep it concise three to six specific promises. I would recommend starting your vows, that kind of what I call, setting the scene. You know, what was your initial impression of this person when you met, describe flashback to your first date or the first time you’ve heard about them, your first interaction, what were you physically attracted to them? So you’re setting the scene and then you can go into things about what you admire about them, what you admire about your relationship, then the specific promises. And then you want to close the time of your wishes as you look into your future. And in a strong closing, that is going to have some version of letting them know you left them, you know, and some couples have it in different ways of saying that they have, that they always say to each other.
Katelyn 00:34:04 So I say, try to work that in any, any way that we can work in the things that are really do, whether it’s nicknames or quotes you have together, here’s where you can say inside joke. And I say, it doesn’t matter if you bring the guests in because, um, at the end of the day, while you want guests to enjoy hearing your vows, it’s, it’s really about you too. And you can choose to read them in front of your guests. Or a lot of couples now are doing private vows where during their first look they’ll, they’ll read their vows because they feel that they can be more vulnerable and have that more of that personal intimate moment.
Jake 00:34:34 Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. I love that advice about just putting pen to paper and kind of setting a timer. I mean, I feel like for a lot of people staring at that blank white page, that’s probably a really helpful exercise to just get it, get some momentum,
Katelyn 00:34:48 The pressure off of you, right? Like you don’t have to feel like it has to be perfect. You can just scribble down some notes and if you throw half of them in the trash, it doesn’t matter. No, one’s going to see
Jake 00:34:56 It. Yeah. Very cool. I want to ask you one more thing just because I saw it on your site there at wedding words about a service that you offered, which was writing a marriage proposal, right. As a service that you offer. I’m just curious, like, is that something that a lot of people, it just never occurred to me that somebody would come to a professional to, to write that for them. But, uh, I’m just curious if you’re seeing, that’s a common thing that people are looking for. And what’s your, what’s your advice on there? Like if somebody is just popping the question, I guess kind of going back to the beginning here, somebody. Absolutely.
Katelyn 00:35:30 So all of these services are really about putting emotional things into words that, that you might struggle to articulate. And so when it comes time to ask the, ask someone to marry you, that’s one of those moments where it’s like, oh my gosh, how am I going to articulate what I feel and smell mate. And so marriage proposals are really unique in that they can vary between somebody wanting to convey something in just a couple of sentences or somebody wanting it to be, you know, two minutes of this kind of confession of their love and why they’re choosing this person. And so if you’re trying to come up with a strategy for how to write your marriage proposal, I’d recommend first asking yourself, what is my goal? Is it just, I literally am going to be so nervous and emotional that I just want to focus on getting the question out, because if that’s the type of person you are, then don’t bite off the task of trying to read, you know, a two minute speech.
Katelyn 00:36:26 And so in that case, focus on what’s like one or two key things I could say as a lead up before asking the question where you, and maybe you don’t even ask it in that way. And maybe you’ve had some inside joke or story where you always say, oh, if I ever got married, I would say this. And so work in your personnel. And that way, if you’re somebody who, you know, you want it to be this bigger moment and the speech, maybe it’s in front of family and friends. And so you want everybody to hear how you feel then prepare and you can do it in a similar way that I recommended for the vows of the brainstorming session and really edit it down. Even if it’s going to be longer. I don’t recommend going above like one to two minutes because you know, your partner is going to kind of know what’s about to happen and nerves are going to be coming in more than even, I would say on your wedding day, maybe cause there’s that anticipation. And so, um, again, your brevity is really key.
Jake 00:37:19 All right. Well, that’s very helpful. I Caitlin, thank you so much for this. I, uh, I think you shared a lot of really great tips for people that maybe are freaking out right now. Uh, I think you would, uh, I know you said it earlier, but it’s probably never too soon to start. So if you got an event coming up, you know, months, even a year away, like it’s probably never too soon to be at least thinking about it and starting to put some of those thoughts on
Katelyn 00:37:44 They’re keeping a journal. That’s what I did. I would journal the year that I got engaged. I would just write down different things that my husband would do or say to me that I really appreciated. And then I went back and I referenced all my journal entries and I sort of highlighted parts that I might want to use in the bows. So, you know, whether it’s a notes app on your phone or a real journal, those are some kind of like low stakes, low pressure way for you to start preparing for your boss.
Jake 00:38:09 I love it. Well, tell everybody, before we wrap up, just, you know, if they’re interested in hiring you to just, Hey, I just want you to do this thing for me. How did they get in touch with you and just, you know, whatever, however they can reach out to you. Yeah,
Katelyn 00:38:21 Absolutely. I would love to help anybody who’s struggling with this. Or I work with people who, for a combination of reasons, either they struggle to put their heart into words. They’re just really busy. They have anxiety around public speaking, all of the above. So you can find me at my website, it’s wedding words.us. And also my Instagram, which is at wedding words, that us on my website, I have a contact form. You can fill out, I’ll respond within one business day. And, um,
Jake 00:38:52 Perfect. Well, thank you very much. Thank you for your time. I appreciate you being on the show with us.
Katelyn 00:38:57 Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you. Bye-bye.