You turn to your beloved to recite the vows you wrote yourself and knew by heart and…you go blank. Or it’s your turn to toast the happy couple and…you forget what you were going to say. Or you say it…and there’s no reaction.
Holly Blum aka The Word Whisper, owner of A Speech To Remember in Chappaqua, has a remedy for these embarrassing situations: Have your vows, toast, or speech written by a pro. Blum specializes in custom-written vows, toasts, and speeches, and has recently expanded her services to included customized wedding ceremonies. “This is great for couples looking for a more personalized, less traditional approach to their ceremony,” says Blum, whose clients include not only brides and grooms, but their parents, best men, and maids of honor as well.
Aren’t vows, toasts, and speeches supposed to come from the heart? Yes, which is why Blum takes steps to ensure that everything she writes has the right tone, and reflects the speakers feeling and intentions.
“I ask each client to think about the tone of their speech and to make a figurative pie chart laying out the ratio of funny to witty to inspirational to sentimental they wish to deliver. As I interview clients, I spend a lot of time listening to how they talk. What expressions and jargon do they use? What’s their intonation like? Using their own words and ideas helps me make the speech sound like they wrote it themselves.”
Is there an ideal length for a wedding speech? Absolutely. “They should be three to five minutes, max,” says Blum. “Anything longer and you will lose people’s attention.”
Like many people, Blum says, “I’ve sat through my fair share of cringe-worthy wedding speeches. That’s part of what inspired me to start A Speech To Remember. Through the years, she’s noted that the biggest mistakes generally come when people decide to “wing it and show up wholly unprepared.”
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Another big no-no, she says, “comes people who feel the need to share embarrassing or inappropriate stories — best men tend to be the worst offenders — and people who try to take the edge off and have one too many drinks before delivering their speech. These are usually all recipes for disaster.”
So what makes a good speech? Blum says that a successful wedding speech should:
• Tell a story
• Connect with the audience
• Reflect the speech-giver’s personality
• Strike a balance between humorous and heartfelt
• Have structure — a beginning, middle, and endâ€‹
When choosing stories to tell and memories to share, “it’s critical to only include those that will resonate with everyone in the room, regardless of age, background, or relationship with the bride and groom,” says Blum.
It’s also important to be authentic. “I always tell my clients to be themselves. If they aren’t typically funny, the wedding toast isn’t the time to pilot their stand-up routine.”
For those who want to write their own speeches, Blum suggests “taking a trip down Memory Lane” for inspiration, since many people find that the hardest part of writing is simply getting started. “Look through photos, videos, yearbooks, and cards or letters for inspiration. Make a list of fond memories, personal stories, and anecdotes that resonate with you. Once you have your raw material, start building a framework, with special emphasis on your opening and closing, and remember that your words will be spoken, so they should sound natural and conversational.”
Blum charges a flat fee of $500 for a three- to five-minute speech. This includes a comprehensive interview, drafting, revisions, and coaching tips. Fees for custom vows and ceremonies vary depending on length. Blum recommends booking her services at least two months in advance.
To contact Blum, call 917.538.9300 or visit www.aspeechtoremember.com.