With Meghan Markle set to break royal protocol and make a speech at her wedding, we're predicting many brides will be inspired to do the same. Your wedding is one of life's few opportunities to thank those you love: your partner, parents, grandparents, even your best friends. Why let that moment pass you by? Just because it's not tradition?
"People spend a lot of their effort and money on the location and set-up of the big day. But what a lot of people remember most about a wedding is the speeches," says David Stacey of Be Heard Now, which specialises in coaching clients - from actors to CEOs - to be truly effective public speakers.
But giving a speech at your wedding, for some, is easier said than done. According to a 2014 YouGov survey, 20% of Brits have a fear of public speaking, which is also known as Glossophobia. So, if you're a Glossophobic, then perhaps tackling this fear is best done at your wedding while surrounded by your nearest and dearest.
"Once you've learnt how to deliver a speech at your wedding, it's a skill you can take to work. Public speaking is a vital tool for most professions," says Be Heard Now's Milly Ellis, who helped Pippa Middleton make her first after-dinner speech.
Here, Milly and David share their best tips for a bridal speech
Prepare, prepare, prepare
"Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail." It's as simple as that! It's important when preparing your bridal speech to give yourself time to work on its story and narrative. Of course, your speech should always give thanks to the most important people in the room, but it's also nice to think about your own narrative. How did you and your partner meet? Why have you decided to embark on this adventure together?
Practise your speech and rehearse in the space
What reads well on the page might sound completely different said out loud. So, it's essential that you practice delivering your speech. Simplify it with each practice.
It's also really important to rehearse in your wedding space to get a feel for it. Practise with the mic; make sure the sound system works. Look around the room and, if you're going to be referring to people, map out where they'll be sitting.
All of these things will help you have the confidence you need to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Find your voice and tell your story
The groom's speech often focuses on thanking the bridal party, parents, ushers and best man. Typically, he'll also talk about himself and how you met. From there, it's nice for a bride's speech to follow. You can then thank other people if you wish, and also tell your side of the story. And if those stories differ, it can make for a great laugh.
In addition to humour, don't be afraid to also acknowledge sad topics. Sometimes it's nice to mention family members who may have passed away, just to bring them into the room, and bring a tear to your families' eyes.
Put the audience before your nerves and breathe!
If public speaking scares you, one of the best ways to calm your nerves is via your breath. Taking time for deep breathing will slow your heart rate and help you feel more in control.
Once you're calm, you can then give yourself permission to be confident and present. It's important to begin your speech with energy, so your audience doesn't worry or think, 'oh no, she's nervous, now I'm feeling anxious'. Instead, what you need to do is put the audience at ease by believing that you are poised and self-assured.
Take time to pause if you're about to cry
If you're prone to being a blubbering mess at weddings and you're nervous you'll cry during your speech, taking time to breathe will, again, help control your emotions.
If you've practised your speech, you'll know the moments that might sabotage you, and so you can breathe into those moments. Also, don't be afraid to give yourself permission to pause, collect yourself, and then continue.
Always have water (not Champagne) nearby
Dutch courage really doesn't work. While a cup of coffee or dairy products can affect your voice. Instead, try and stick to water before your speech and keep a glass of water close by while speaking.
Make sure your friends are sitting at the front
This is key for calming your nerves and to get the laughs going. When you deliver that first joke, you know your friends will laugh and that will get everybody going.
Avoid repeating your groom's speech
Without giving anything away, it's always good to cross-reference what your partner is planning to say. Sometimes it can be fine if you're planning on telling the same story, but just make sure it's from a different angle to avoid saying the same thing.
Keep to time
A bridal speech doesn't have to be long - just two to three minutes. When you're practising your speech, it's a good idea to time it and print your speech on an A5 piece of paper (not A4 - it's too big) on the day, so you can stay on track and on time.
Still scared? Work with a vocal coach
Working with someone like Milly from Be Heard Now is a great way to fully prepare. Working with a coach usually require around three sessions. During these sessions, they can help you develop your narrative, as well as teach you the tools for managing nerves, give you confidence and help you deliver a powerful message on one of the most important days of your life!