If your dog or someone else’s devours your wedding speech notes, what the hell do you do at the last minute? Panicking won’t help, but this article will. Read on, and relax.
You may laugh, but dogs do eat notes: I have four furbabies who gobble paper at astronomic speed. In their youth they have been known to eat anything from my own speeches and talks scripts to various articles of my clothing, especially shoes. In fact if ever I am missing a shoe all I need do is walk down the garden to a certain spot where my Gordon Setter (see photo) has a favourite den and hey presto, there it is. Chewed to smithereens.
However, back to business. It’s the morning of the wedding … you’ve already got changed into your wedding finery … your laptop’s battery has died and you have no printer to use anyway … and your printed-out notes have been eaten by your host’s German Shepherd. What next at the last minute??
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Start by remembering the wedding speech basics
First of all, here’s a quick reminder of the truly traditional roles, the order in which they speak, and what’s expected of them…
Father of the Bride (or someone else performing this role) – welcomes everyone and then talks and/or eulogises about the bride and says what a lucky man the groom is. Sometimes also welcomes guests who have travelled a long distance to be there. Proposes toast to the bride and groom.
Bridegroom – thanks all who should be thanked for the wedding, reception, financial help, gifts, bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc. Proposes toast to bridesmaids, groomsmen/ushers and other bridal attendants (don’t forget children).
Best Man (or woman) – thanks on behalf of the bridal party and then talks about the groom and their friendship. Can be funny and entertaining. Proposes the final toast to the bride and groom.
Bride – can speak anywhere within that running order. Is free to speak about anything although obviously should echo other speakers’ thanks as appropriate.
Other relatives – as for the bride.
Same sex weddings – father of the bride a parent or other close person of one or the other, then more or less as above; bridegroom one or both (sharing) of the bridal couple; best man usually a close friend of the couple; other relatives as above.
Quick cheats to get around your last minute memory lapses
Find some paper and a pen. Get ready to make notes.
Go and sit somewhere quiet. Yes, even the restroom if that’s all there is.
You won’t have forgotten the key elements of your speech, so write those down in the correct order. Leave plenty of space between each one.
What you may well have forgotten are specifics like the names of the family of twelve who have travelled all the way from New Zealand or which of the bride’s mother’s sisters made the wedding cake. If you have to thank them, use some cheat methods, e.g.:
New Zealand family … we’re so thrilled that nearly half the population of the north island of New Zealand was able to be here today … you know who you are! (START CLAPPING, OTHERS WILL FOLLOW) Thank you all so much for coming and I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in the Old Country.
Wedding cake … I’m sure you’re all looking forward to a piece of this superb cake made for us by (bride’s name) Mum’s clever, talented sister … it looks fantastic and I know will taste fantastic too. (START CLAPPING, THEN…) Thank you so much for all your hard work.
Write those types of point down in order so you have them ready.
Recreating the anecdotes about the bride, groom, etc.
You may not remember the exact content of your script which the dog ate, and in some ways that’s a good thing … because now you’re going to be telling the stories, not reading them, which will sound much more natural even if there are some “ums” and “ers.”
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Unless you have a memory as bad as mine, even at the last minute you will remember most of the key points of each story. Write those down as bullet points, fleshing them out as much as you have time for. Run through the structure of each one in your mind, or preferably speak them out loud (I’m sure the other restroom users would understand!) so they are fresh in your mind.
Finally, go back through the whole list a flesh out as much as you can elsewhere. You’ll be surprised how much comes back to you, even though you’re panicking.
And if all else fails?
If you do “dry” halfway through your impromptu new speech, here are some useful get-out ideas (to put into your own words)…
“There are so many more people I want to thank but as so many of you have been incredibly kind, to name everyone individually would take me until midnight. So for now let me offer you my/our heartfelt thanks for everything, and I/we will be down to thank you personally after the speeches.”
“Rather than make a complete idiot of myself and insult our overseas guests by pronouncing their names all wrong, let me just say how wonderful it is to see all of you here on this amazing day and thank you from the bottom of my heart/our hearts for honoring us with your presence.”
“I would love to tell you a few jokes now but although I think they’re hilarious I’ve been warned by (new husband/wife/daughter/son/etc) that I’m a terrible joke teller. (Name) even threatened to throw a glass of water/wine over me if I so much as cracked a smile. So instead I’ll save you the pain of the bad jokes and save myself a fortune in dry cleaning bills.”
Final thoughts if the dog eats your wedding speech notes at the last minute…
Don’t panic. You will remember more than you think, after you get over the initial moment of horror.
Don’t apologise or admit the dog ate your script or notes. It will make you even more nervous and won’t make any difference to the audience.
Try to relax and be yourself. That’s the most important part of giving any kind of speech, impromptu, notes and scripts or not.
Questions? Drop Suze a note on email@example.com