Poetry is a great way to heighten a wedding speech. It is traditional and deeply romantic when chosen with a careful touch. But how do you choose a poem which encapsulates you as a couple, sounds organic, not forced, and engages your guests? Katie Hedges from Great Speech Writing shares her expertise to help you find one that works for you…
1) Set a Theme
Decide on a theme for your speech, otherwise the poem itself will be impossible to choose.
“A great speech requires a clear structure;” explains Katie, “decide on a theme that will hold your speech together and write it in short, seamlessly flowing sentences.”
Choosing the theme is up to you – you may want it to coincide with your wedding theme (if you have one), or perhaps you’d like to dedicate it to something more specific. Once you’ve made your decision, start looking at a poem to complement it.
2) Make it Personal
Don’t just pick a poem you think is suitable for a wedding setting, nor for a clichéd old favourite by the likes of Keats and Shelly (unless you feel it fits perfectly with your speech); a verse from a song or a poem by Allen Ginsberg or Ezra Pound could fit just as well.
“Using song lyrics or a poem written by your favourite band or poet can create a brilliant, original structure for your speech,” suggests Katie. “You don’t need to sing it to the audience if you don’t feel comfortable, but it’s vital that you retain the original metre. Song lyrics can be just as effective as traditional poetry, if chosen with care and delicacy.”
Find something that resonates with you: our selection of alternative wedding readings and poems may help.
4) Consider Length and Tone
Make sure your poem cultivates the right tone – whether that’s solemn, romantic or lively; and keep it the right length – you don’t want to bore your guests!
“Generally, we recommend 10 minutes as an optimum speaking time,” advises Katie. “So make sure that any poems or quotes you pick won’t mean that you’re talking for too long.”
4) Deliver with Confidence
It isn’t just choosing the poem that’s important, it’s the performance itself. Remember that you’re speaking in front of your friends and family, so relax, stand tall and speak clearly.
“When delivering your speech, make eye contact with the audience, use positive body language and have a clear voice,” says Katie. “If you look confident and natural, the speech will come across as all the more heartfelt.”
This applies doubly to poetry; sound as if there’s genuine meaning to each word.
5) Mean What You Say
Performance is all very well, but to truly immortalise your day, choose a poem which you are emotionally connected to; one that you can read aloud and truly mean every single word. Being honest from your heart is the most important thing of all.
Great Speech Writing
Katie Hedges works for Great Speech Writing, a specialist team of speech writers based in London. If you would like help writing your gay or lesbian wedding speech, call Katie on 020 8245 8999.
Image Credit: Paola de Paola Wedding Photography