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To speech or not to speech?

To speech or not to speech?

Written by Katie Byrne

That is the question - here, Christina Quaine (pictured above on her wedding day) reveals the reality of brides speaking up


Here are some things I’d like to tell you about Will. He is the only person I know who can successfully carry off a tank top and he can brighten up the most hopeless of days with a silly joke, a made-up song and a cuddle. 

My friends and family know I love Will, but did they know about those little details that helped form my decision to spend the rest of my life with him? Wouldn’t it be nice to tell them? And wouldn’t it be nice to pay tribute to everyone who had helped make our day so special? It was in this spirit that I decided to give a speech at our wedding last December. 

Now, I’m not a comfortable public speaker. The last time I’d spoken in front of a crowd was for a university presentation in 2001. I became sweaty, my voice took on a strangled-sounding quality and I almost burst into tears – none of which a woman dreams of on her wedding day. But I was resolute. Of the 12 weddings I’d been to in the last three years only two brides made a speech. With so few female voices at weddings, I was determined to make a stand. 

The best way, I decided, to deal with the impending terror was to delay speech-writing until the last minute. After all, I had hair to dye, nails to be manicured and legs that needed tanning. If I had too long to agonise over it I might change my mind. So the night before the wedding I climbed into bed at my parent’s house, pen and paper in hand, and started scrawling. Thoughts, feelings and anecdotes about Will, his parents, my parents and my bridesmaids fl ashed through my mind and found their way onto the page. 

I did my one and only run-through the next morning in front of my three sisters. When I got to the part where I thanked my parents I felt my voice catch in my throat, but my sister Geraldine offered the single piece of advice that saved the day: “Think of something mundane and devoid of emotion and that will carry you through,” she said. 

“Mustard!” I replied triumphantly. It was the first thing that came to mind and weirdly, it worked.

Any bride will tell you that her wedding day passes in a whirl of hugs, best wishes and generous compliments about how brilliant she looks. This meant I didn’t have time to get too nervous.

Still, my hand trembled as I took the microphone. I peered out at 100 expectant faces and felt my voice wavering as the words came out. But after a minute or two I got into my stride. I began to enjoy myself. People (very kindly) laughed in the right places and when the inevitable emotion came, the mustard trick worked a treat. I even made it an anecdote which people laughed at. I felt elated afterwards. Will hugged and said he couldn’t have been prouder, while friends and family congratulated me on my success. 

I’m so glad I took the leap. When else do you get the undivided attention of 100 people, as they listen to you pay tribute to the people who matter most to you in the world? So if you’re considering taking the microphone at your wedding, then do it. And feel free to use the mustard technique.

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