Wedding nerves are normal. Let's get that said right up front. Unless you've won the lottery, made it to the X-Factor final, or been acquitted of murder, your wedding day is likely to be the biggest and most nerve-racking day of your life to date, so there's no need to panic about the occasional flutter of butterflies in your ribcage.
Now, if you're tossing and turning at night over whether you've made the right choice, or whether to get married at all, we can't help you. For pity's sake, call your Mum! Call your best friend… your priest... your fiancee! The clock's ticking, and the cost of changing your mind gets exponentially higher - emotionally and financially - once you and your other half share last names. But that's not you, right? I mean, you're here to write your wedding speech. That seems like a pretty committed thing to be doing.
So what about the other kind of wedding nerves? In a 2014 survey, 25% of people listed public speaking as their biggest fear. That means that for a good portion of husbands-to-be, giving the groom's speech is a scarier prospect than spiders, heights, snakes or zombies. And that's where we can help. Firsty, by helping you to craft a kickass speech, so you can take your place at the top table confident that you'll strike the right tones and tick all the etiquette boxes. And secondly, by putting your mind at ease with this three point reality check. If you're suffering from wedding speech anxiety, you can relax, and here's why…
1. You're among friends
You'll never find a friendlier audience for public speaking than a wedding guest list. Sure, there may be the odd cantankerous uncle in the room, or that school pal whose new boyfriend can't hold his booze, but this is a crowd that wants you to succeed. Consider the worst case scenario. Even if your speech is less than electrifying, your audience has been preprogrammed by social convention to nod and smile, laugh in all the right places, and applaud politely when you finish. It's a wedding, for goodness sake; you're not going to get heckled. Provided you don't say anything wildly inappropriate, the room is on your side. If you're visibly nervous, they'll only share your relief when the job's out of the way. And if you make light of your nerves with a well-placed gag, you can even turn the situation to your advantage…
"I haven't felt this nervous since I asked Dave (the best man) to pay for a round of drinks on my stag night."
Alternatively, play it straight and use the opportunity to underline your love...
"I must admit, I'm a nervous public speaker. But I'd rather be nervous about this bit than at the alter. That part was easy. I've never been more sure of anything in my life."
2. You're not alone
Remember that fact from earlier? One quarter of the people in the room are likely to list public speaking as their number one fear, and it's bound to be somewhere on the fear list for a good chunk of the remaining three quarters, too! Think about it. If our wedding traditions included balancing a tarantula on your head, would you mock or judge the people who got nervous around huge hairy spiders? Of course not! You'd pat them on the back, tell them they did a great job, and toast their bravery. The point is, you may be nervous, but at least your audience understands why.
3. You never have to do this again
Okay, strictly speaking, that may not be 100% accurate, but if you play your cards right, this could at least be the last time you are called upon to give a speech in public until your own daughter's wedding, or the day of your retirement. If your palms are sweaty as you take to the podium, keep that in mind, because it's one hell of a pay off. And if you're still reluctant to open your mouth in public, consider the lesson of this cheeky groom who knows that in his marriage, opportunities to voice himself may be thin on the ground in future…