Giving your wedding speech an overarching theme can be a great way to both structure your words and generate material, but only if you apply the topic with the lightest of touches. Shoehorning every single reference you can think of will soon ensure your speech falls flat on its arse. So with that in mind, here is our brief guide as to how you can theme your wedding speech without overdoing it.
Step 1 - Pick A Topic
Is your groom a martial arts master? Perhaps the bride is a tech-obsessed cyber-geek. It's often best to theme your wedding speech around something relevant to one of the major players, and if you can generate a theme that suits both of them, that's even better. The example we're going to demonstrate with is the Olympics, which may be well-suited to a sporty couple, but other more general themes include growing from childhood to adulthood, employment, hobbies and current events.
Here's an example of how you might introduce the theme of your wedding speech early on - a crucial part of the process unless you want everyone to spend your entire speech with a confused look on their faces:
"As you all know Rob and Lori are a very sporty couple. They go jogging together, they go swimming together, they probably even go lycra shopping together. So with that in mind I've chosen to theme my speech today around the Olympics, because if there's one thing I know my daughter understands - it's how to be competitive!"
Step 2 - Structure The Speech
Before you go trying to make funny connections between the Olympics and marriage you must first decide how your speech will be structured. This too can be influenced by the central theme if you like, and using our Olympics metaphor you could quite easily break up the timeline of the bride and groom's relationship into separate sporting events. Perhaps you'd describe the early years as the qualifiers, with the groom trying to prove his abilities to his future bride. This could then be progressed with a structure including semi-finals, the final, crossing the finishing line and receiving the medals.
Alternatively you could attempt to draw parallels between certain events in the happy couple's lifetime and events within the Olympic calendar. Was the groom for the high jump after being caught flirting with another girl? Maybe it took a marathon effort for the bride to finally woo her gentleman suitor. Try to think of the major anecdotes and events you want to mention, and then see if any kind of pattern emerges. If not, don't force it, because the theme can easily be referenced through a few well-timed gags instead.
Step 3 - Generate Material
Here's the fun part. Now you get to let your brain go mental and make random connections between the idea of marriage and the Olympics themselves. Feel free to let loose when you're writing this material down, but bear in mind that at least 90% of what you come up with will end up in your recycle bin.
"Marriage is like a marathon, but in my experience the wedding night is more of a sprint."
"Clearly John won the gold medal when Meg agreed to marry him, but for a long time it looked like he might not even qualify!"
"We've got a few of our own Olympic-style events coming up later today. We've already had the sixty-metre aisle dash and the bouquet tug of war, but later on we can also expect to see synchronised drinking, dance-floor gymnastics, and probably some wrestling if Aunty Jean overdoes it on the gin."
Not all of it has to make you laugh, though. Heartfelt statements which also draw upon the central theme will seem just as witty without the need for a punch-line.
"This weekend the Olympic Flame finally sets out on its 67-day journey around Brazil. My new son-in-law David reckons that's nothing though, because he's been carrying a torch for Jennifer for 14 years!"
"Marriage, just like the Olympics, reminds us that people can achieve the most when they reach the highest. It shows us that whoever we are, we all share the same hopes and dreams, and it is inspirational moments like this that make the effort worthwhile."
"If you work hard for something every day, eventually your dreams will come true, and Jenny is proof positive of that. Some might say today represents my gold medal, but in truth this girl has made me feel like a winner from the day we met."
Step 4 - Cut the Crap
This is the hard part - editing the material you've got into a speech that flows and which doesn't rely on the main theme too heavily. If more than 10 percent of your jokes, anecdotes and compliments have been twisted to fit the Olympic theme, you might want to consider chopping some out, or simply reverting them back to their original non-themed form.
Give your material a few days to mature whilst it sits on your desktop, and then return to it with a fresh and hopefully more critical eye at a later date. You should be able to easily tell the duds from the zingers, and at this stage it's best to be harsh. Ditch anything that's too wordy, too convoluted or just not funny enough, and stick to the lines that actually make your speech better as a whole, rather than retaining those which are hilarious by themselves.
You'll also want to reword your jokes if any of them are long-winded. Here's an example of how you can cut down an over-long explanation of a drawn-out metaphor into a single line with a much sharper punch.
"A new wife is like an Olympic velodrome; all sleek curves and the promise of dreams fulfilled. But remember, Phil, all too many Olympic velodromes are woefully underused after the initial excitement has passed. Indeed, many fall into disrepair and are eventually redeveloped as community function halls or mid-priced venues for corporate receptions. Don't let that happen to Sarah."
And the short version.
"A new wife is a lot like an Olympic stadium; sure, at first they're all sleek curves and full of promise, but eventually the excitement will pass, and if you don't fill it…someone else will."
So there you have it, our simple guide to applying a consistent theme throughout your wedding speech. If you structure everything properly, use the theme sparingly and take the time to generate and edit enough quality material, you'll end up with a cracking speech that is bold, original and memorable.