Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A wedding speech is…--Carolyn Wilker

This year my husband and I have two daughters getting married. One wedding took place in August, on a beautiful sunshiny day at an outdoor venue. The second wedding is coming up very soon. We hope for sunny weather for that day too, even if the ceremony will be indoors.

At our own wedding, my husband gave the speech. Short and sweet, with no extra words—thanks to parents, attendants, and anyone else who had helped us get ready for the day. No stories, no jokes. Tops, maybe 3 minutes. Not a speaker by nature, unless the topic is work, weather or mechanics, his response is short.

I wasn’t a speaker then either. Standing up in front of 25, 50—or in that case, more than a hundred—was daunting; I was glad I didn’t have to do it. 

Since then I learned, on my first interview as a published writer, that learning to speak would be a good thing. I joined Toastmasters in 2004 and  since then have given many speeches at my club and beyond, including speaking at two contests. I’ve also given workshops and taught writing.

Fellow Toastmaster, Tony, is fond of recalling my first speech at the club and reminding me, and others, just how far I’ve come.

In 2005, when our middle daughter and her fiancĂ© announced their wedding date, I told my husband that I would give the speech. I’m sure I didn’t imagine it—the quiet sigh of relief.  Then I surprised my family by getting up and giving the speech.

Since I’ve set the bar, I announced again that for these two weddings, I would give the speech. I asked the bride for permission to speak as well as the required length of time.

I wrote and rewrote. The product on the first try was not very remarkable even if there was good stuff in it. The day I gave my speech at the club, I had made more changes. When I delivered the speech, I promptly forgot some changes and remembered others.

One of our Toastmasters is a wedding officiant. She noted that I had more stories for the bride than for the groom. She was right. It also seemed to her that I had a little more of a roast than a wedding speech; it hadn’t been intended that way at all.

 We’ve attended enough weddings to know that all kinds of stories come out—including the humorous variety. I think of the one that my father shared at our wedding. One day a young man came driving in our country lane, and my Dad, thinking that the young man had come to see him on church business, soon learned the fellow had come to see me instead. Gentle humour from my father, at his own expense, so good that I’ve remembered it all these years.

Thus I went back to my copy and reworked it again. A wedding speech, after all, is not one we give very often. My husband asked if he should be up there with me, and so I came up with a plan that would include his voice in the closing.

 All that practice paid off, because the day of the wedding, though I had my notes with me, I really didn’t need them. And all of that impromptu speaking practice?—I was paying attention. I commented on others’ speeches—points not included in my script. There was even some humour. My husband came in perfectly on the last line. Tony would be so proud.

The bride and groom were pleased, and I received several compliments on my speech. The groom got roasted, but not by me.

 Now to do it again. I have permission and the allowed time from the second bride-to-be. My speech is written and is not the same one I delivered on her sister's special day.

 I have practised again, with my fellow Toastmasters as audience, so that I will be ready. (Thank you!)

 What is that line again? Ah, yes. Practice makes perfect.


Peter Black said...


Thank you for this inspiring family narrative.

As we look back, isn't it wonderful to reflect on how encouragement and coaching, along with timely opportunity, has helped us grow and succeed.

Two down -- one to go: you'll complete your family "hat-trick" at the next wedding, I'm sure! :)

Carolyn Wilker said...

Things were far too busy to respond the week of the wedding, but now our feet are coming back to touch earth.

All three are married. Our middle daughter was first to do it, back in 2005 and we have two little granddaughters.

Thanks for your kind comments, as always.Coaching is a good thing. :)

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