Why Weddings Need A Love Story
Some couples find the idea of having ‘a story’ a bit cringey or just plain weird, but you have one whether you like it or not. And let’s face it, a speech with a good old-fashioned story is loads better than one laden with clichés, thank yous, and wedding ‘jokes’.
Storytelling is powerful and important. On both a macro and an individual scale.
But when, exactly, do we have the opportunity to tell our story? When do we sum up what we’re all about and why we love the things and people that we do?
Unless you’re an Instagram influencer with cute hair, a cool backdrop and a quirky hashtag, the answer is rarely, if at all.
A wedding speech is essentially the yin to a eulogy’s yang. It is just as important, just as moving, and just as life-affirming, but – good news – you’re around to enjoy it.
Your wedding speech is important, not just to you, but to the people you love. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to thank your parents and friends, and tell them why you love them. And it’s one of the rare occasions when you can shout about how much you adore your partner without your mates sticking their fingers down their throats.
The flowers at a wedding might add beauty and the vows may add meaning, but the speeches? Well, they add the heart. They provide the day its personality and show what ‘you two’ are all about. Your guests may forget what they ate, they won’t remember what they danced to but, as Maya Angelou reportedly said, ‘people will never forget how you made them feel’.
The Power of Storytelling
Telling a good story helps sync your mind with your guests. When people hear an engaging story, they put themselves in your shoes and that process forms a deeper connection. Just like that.
Finding cracking anecdotes (short stories) is a crucial part of creating a great speech. And, to reassure you, we all have brilliant stories, even the desperate grooms we speak to who are convinced they’re ‘just a boring couple who don’t do anything exciting’.
A story doesn’t need to be long. It doesn’t need to be extraordinary. It just has to reveal something about you as a couple.
We’re not expecting your story to be War & Peace (bit odd if it was) but we bet it’s rather charming, a bit quirky, and crucially, unique to you.
‘When guests hear great stories, they feel less of a spectator at the wedding and more like they’re involved. As an Asian man, I go to loads of weddings and if you’re one of 500 guests, you might not know the couple very well. A good speech helps me connect with them.’ Shai Hussain, Speechy writer
‘Ultimately all you need is 3 good stories. Actually even one really great one can make a speech fantastic.’ Kat Williams, Rock n Roll Bride
‘When we start writing a speech, the first thing we both do is hunt out the best stories. Three or four ideally. We’ll literally just bash them out and whack them down on the blank page. Everything goes from there.’ Ed Amsden and Tom Coles, Speechy writers
Sometimes your story is hard to spot. Sometimes you can’t find any, sometimes there are too many to choose from.
Sometimes your story feels a bit too tragic or rocky to tell (of course, if you’re getting hitched that’s never true, no matter how many times you’ve split up or how many shirts have been cut up in the making of the relationship). As the Top 10 Love Stories of All Time shows, often the most romantic love affairs face a challenge or two!
As professional story hunters, we love working with couples and helping them find their stories. There’s no big secret to it. It’s just about asking the right questions and finding the quirky little things that make each couple unique.
Of course, you can do this yourself. Ideally, after a bottle of wine. That makes the creative process so much more fun.
It’s worth checking out this TED talk by Andrew Stanton (WALL-E & Toy Story writer) as he’s got some good advice on how to create a great story. Be warned though, there’s a terrible attempt at a Scottish accent near the beginning.
Story Dos and Don’ts
Don’t bother with…
- The proposal story – This is only interesting if it went wrong in some way. Detailing the romantic way you, or your partner, popped the question is generally predictable (it’s meant to be romantic) or seen as an attempt to show off.
- The stag / hen / bachelor party / bridal shower – Sure, thank your teams for organizing them and feel free to allude to any bad behaviour but do not consider this an ‘anecdote’. Again, these events often involve drinking too much and someone embarrassing themselves.
- Long or complicated stories – Generally (and there are exceptions), you need to be able to tell the story within about 100 words
Look for stories that…
- Tell the audience something new about you, your partner or love (or at least offer a fresh look at one of your classic tales)
- Provide insight into your relationship
- Are funny or poignant and thought-provoking
- Are easy to follow
Have a point. A good story needs a clear, central message that fits with the theme of the rest of the speech.
If you start your story-hunt by asking ‘What’s our best, funniest, most insightful stories?’ chances are you won’t come up with much, so here are a few tried and tested ways to kick-start your search.
A good story doesn’t need to be a major event or particularly important. A good storyteller can create drama, tension and comedy from the more mundane acts; like the tension of asking someone to go on a date.
Don’t worry about the stories being fully formed, having a meaningful message or a killer punchline at this stage. But, start to notice if there is a running theme that connects any of the anecdotes.
Now, let’s see what stories you can come up with…
1 – SEMINAL STORIES
The cornerstones of any relationship are likely to be interesting.
Even if you suspect that the majority of your guests know where you met, your retelling of the story may provide some refreshing insight.
Here’s a list of the classic ‘love stories’ to consider…
- How you met
- The first date
- Meeting the parents
- Going on your first holiday together
- Moving in together
- When you discovered they weren’t actually perfect
- Any embarrassing anecdotes
- Any challenges you’ve overcome together (comedic or otherwise)
2 – STORIES THAT CAN BE USED IN EVIDENCE
The opening moment of a film is often an establishing scene where we learn about the central character. It usually runs for just a few minutes and concentrates on the mundane reality of that person’s existence before the plot kicks in.
These crucial seconds are designed to tell us everything we need to know about that character and it’s the small things that often give it away.
Are they scoffing down their breakfast in the car whilst swearing at a red light, or are they eating their porridge whilst listening to Radio 4 and reading Time magazine? Often, a ten-second scene tells us more than a two-page biography would.
3 – STORY TRIGGERS
Sometimes you need a few prompts to get that brain working, like their online profile that claimed a passion for history but didn’t quite reveal this ‘interest’ would involve you having to visit military museums in every town and country you go to with them.
See if you can hunt down…
- Your online dating profiles (if you met there).
- If you met at work, do you still have your contract or job description? It could it be used for comedy purposes.
- If you’re childhood sweethearts, hunt out the school reports.
- And, obviously, look back at your photos through the years. This will inevitably trigger memories but don’t consider using them as part of your speech.