Planning my wedding nine years ago, I kept it chilled.
My dress was £100 from Debenhams (nicer than it sounds), I had décor by Ikea (pot plants no less) and invites printed on the work printer (shh, don’t tell the boss).
But one thing I did care about was the speeches. In fact, I ended up spending three days working on my speech and, er, my groom’s speech.
Yes, I wrote my husband-to-be’s speech for him. And almost a decade later, I’m now a professional wedding speech ghost writer, which, it turns out, is an actual ‘thing’ and we get hundreds of enquiries every month.
So why are so many grooms ‘cheating’ with folk like me? And, more importantly, should brides be bothered if they do? Clearly, I think not.
Around 700,000 wedding speeches are (generally) given every year in the UK alone but, let’s face it, most of them are rubbish. Full of clichés, googled gags and if you’re really unlucky, a PowerPoint presentation.
When I got married, I wanted the speeches to be a hell of a lot better than the ones I’d sat through before. There had been some truly awful examples (a best man who went on for over 40 minutes and a drunken best man trio who got told to stop by the mother of the groom).
But worse than the terrible speeches were the really boring, forgettable ones. The tick-box, heard-it-all-before ones that everyone smiled through but only with the aid of the wine in front of them.
I wanted belly laughs. I wanted tears. I wanted everyone in the room to feel a little more loved and I wanted our speeches to kickstart the party with a bang.
And quite frankly, I knew my partner wasn’t up to the job.
After two years of living together, I knew Roger’s text-message communication and Valentine’s cards were not up to scratch. They were the literary equivalent of a bunch of supermarket flowers wrapped in cellophane.
To keep the romance alive, I left him a section towards the end which said ‘INSERT HEARTFELT COMPLIMENTS HERE’ (Picture: Heidi Ellert-McDermott)
Meanwhile, as a TV producer and scriptwriter, I was used to writing for people like Sharon Osbourne and Richard Hammond – so why not utilise that skill?
Roger happily took me up on the offer of me writing his speech. I knew the people he wanted to thank, how to make his mates laugh and how to divvy up our best couple-stories between both our speeches.
To keep the romance alive, I left him a section towards the end which said ‘INSERT HEARTFELT COMPLIMENTS HERE’.
He ended up telling a story about me buying a tin of soup and talked about my ‘bootylicious bum’. I know. Real tear-jerking stuff.
I realised grooms need help, so I made it my mission. It turned out setting up your own business with two toddlers wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped but, within three years, Speechy was born.
I’ve since personally helped hundreds of grooms. I love it when I stop them employing overused words like ‘soulmate’ and instead help them hunt down the things that make their partners truly unique. Speaking on the phone, or these days over Zoom, it’s clear some just don’t have a clue.
‘What do you love about your partner?’, ‘Er, they’re very nice’. Really? Is that all? Oreo cookies are nice.
What about the way they add just the right amount of chilli flakes to your scrambled eggs when you’re hungover? Or their excellent Boris Johnson impression? Or their ability to put up a tent in less than 15 minutes?
And when I ask ‘What makes you two special?’, a surprising amount of grooms are stumped… ‘Hmm, we’re just kind of average and boring I guess’. Wrong. Every couple has a story, just not the made up, fantasy one we’re expected to recite.
One of my favourite questions is: ‘What frustrates you about each other?’ – seems a weird thing to ask but guaranteed to provide great content for the speech. Recognising all the parts that make up your partner, even the annoying ones, shows you get them. And then it’s all the more amazing that you want to tolerate them for the rest of your life!
A lot of brides (or grooms in same sex unions) would be furious to think their men get help with their speeches and, when we once exhibited at a national wedding show, the vast majority complained ‘that’s his one job!’.
I get it but, surely, in 2021 gender ‘duties’ need an overhaul? And I reckon the speech is one of the things you don’t want to leave to your other half.
But if brides don’t want to get involved, we’re happy to step in.
Grooms generally get in touch two or three months in advance of the wedding (it’s the best men who call the night before) so it’s not that they are lazy, it’s that they care about getting it right.
Some grooms confess to crying after reading our first drafts (happy tears hopefully!). They are romantics at heart; just struggling to find their inner-Byron.
Rest assured, we don’t put words in people’s mouths – we help grooms develop their insights, hunt down their best anecdotes and articulate their thoughts better. I mean, you know what sort of flowers you want, you know what type of cake you want – but you get help putting it together right?
When we work with brides (happily a growing percentage of our clients as they are making speeches, too) they are generally open with their partner about using our services – but the men usually keep it secret because they think their partners wouldn’t approve.
Considering our sales have risen more than double from 2019 to 2021 (we’re ignoring 2020), your groom may just be working with a ghostwriter like me whether you like it or not!
What’s better ladies? Meaningless clichés and googled gags? Or your partner ‘cheating’ and delivering a speech that will make you (and your loved ones) laugh, cry and love him a bit more?
For more information on Speechy’s services visit here.
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