When they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad, they’re painful. To help you perfect your gay wedding speech, we chatted to professional speech writer Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing. He told us two very different gay wedding speech stories, both of which he assisted with; and there are lessons in both…
Bob “By not thinking differently about the speeches because there were two grooms, I was able to write a funny, personable speech my best friend.”
The Best Man’s Speech
“Bob, who is straight, called me after he had been asked to be best man at his best friend’s same-sex wedding. Although he was thrilled to be asked, he became stuck on what his focus should be. He couldn’t work out whether to focus on the ‘gay wedding’ angle, whether he should be bawdy and play to the friends of the groom that he’d spent so many nights out with, or whether he should emphasise that he was straight.
“So I gave him some advice. I told him not to think about this as anything other than a wedding. His friend was getting married, he was in love and he had invited loads of friends to celebrate. I suggested he should forget that this was a relatively modern arrangement and that he should simply work from the basis of writing a great speech, and then his content would flow naturally.”
Lawrence’s key wedding speech writing rules for Bob:
- Start by thinking about the other guests. Yes, there will be a few people who wanted to get a warts ‘n’ all picture of him, but there will also be large numbers of relatives and family friends. It is vital to make your humour and approach relevant to them too; a gay wedding doesn’t mean exclusively gay guests!
- Work around your friend and what has defined him over the years. What has made him unique? What elements would hold together in a speech about him? In a room with so many gay guests, being gay won’t actually be unique at all.“Bob found what was much more interesting was that his friend had been obsessed by the film Chariots of Fire for about 30 years. So he built the speech around that and the influence it had on his life.”
- Consider your friend’s partner. Rather than thinking about him being a man, think about him as the person who has made your friend so very happy. As a best man, that’s all that matters: your friend being happier with his partner than without him. So, when it comes to writing a wedding speech, there really is no difference between a same-sex and different-sex wedding at all, except for the pronouns!
The Father’s Speech
Having already delivered his father of a bride speech at the wedding of his lesbian daughter some months before, and now tasked with writing another speech in celebration for his daughter and daughter-in-law’s first year anniversary, Martin sought Lawrence’s help. He felt his speech had been one of those bad speeches, where the focus was all wrong and he hadn’t got across the real message, which should have been one about love. This is his story:
“My daughter married a woman. It’s not unusual or in any way newsworthy. But for some reason I allowed it to get in the way of my thinking. I’m not embarrassed to say that I hadn’t expected to have a gay daughter, or that it took some time to come to terms with her being gay. But I now realise that the time to reflect on that wasn’t in my father of the bride speech.
“I was keen to show her – and her wife – that I was happy. And I tried to do it by making a couple of self-conscious ‘blokey’ jokes. I also gave quite a long, heartfelt explanation about her coming out and how it affected me at the time. “My daughter-in-law’s father didn’t speak, but a good friend did. He got it right by focusing on who she was, not what she was. It was a speech that would have been equally relevant had she married a man. It included a lovely piece about happy the couple are together, and how love conquers all. I learned that although there maybe many differences between a gay wedding and a straight wedding, the speeches aren’t the place to make that point.”
Great Speech Writing
Lawrence Bernstein is the founder of Great Speech Writing and, together with his team of writers, has worked with a range of speakers at different events. In recent years Lawrence and his team have seen more clients coming to them for help speech-writing help for civil partnerships and same-sex weddings. But their message never changes: don’t write for the occasion, write for the audience. Don’t worry about the ‘type’ of wedding, think about the people and be sure you include the right balance of humour and sincerity for both the couple and for their guests.
If you would like help writing your gay wedding speech, find out more or call Lawrence on 020 8245 8999.
Image Credit: Benjamin Stuart Photography