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Weddings and the fear of public speaking

Updated: Aug 21, 2018

As a wedding celebrant, when meeting couples for the very first time to discuss their ceremony, invariably the topic of expressing their vows in a public forum, quite often conjures up a nightmare of biblical portions.


The popular theory, is that public speaking, is like the moment a hungry white pointer shark is bearing down on you or diving into murky water and seeing the bulging eyes of a 4-metre crocodile!


The importance of the wedding, is magnified by the build-up, and expectation of the day, thus generating excessive adrenaline. As a result, speech may sound racy, palms will be sweaty, and a heartbeat that would feel like a thousand African drums beating on your chest.


These physical effects occur, because the body doesn’t know what to do with its excess adrenaline.


Now the challenge for the bride, groom, a nominated reader, and even the best man at the reception, is to somehow suppress negative thought patterns, to overcome stage fright. Preparation prior to the event, and self-belief, is of the upmost importance. The old adage, practice makes perfect, can never be underestimated. It may be a good idea for the wedding participants, to rehearse as many times as possible out loud, say in front of a mirror, is always a good one leading up to the ceremony.


Being mindful, of slowing your speech down, to allow the wedding guests to digest the spoken word. The power of the pause, should also be considered, as certain words or phrases are very powerful. Say to yourself mentally “I feel relaxed; I feel calm”. Believing in yourself, is half the battle. Dryness of the mouth can be reduced, by taking a throat lozenge, prior to speaking. This will enhance mouth saliva, enabling you to feel at ease.


Eye contact between the bride and groom is essential, and holding hands, believe it or not, will give you strength as a couple. Whether you’re a nominated reader at the ceremony, best man, father of the bride at the reception, try to remember when your speech begins, look for a friendly or sympathetic face in the crowd.


Understand that perfection in whatever we do or say, is unrealistic. Realize, that when we speak in front of an audience, we will make mistakes, omitting a word, or a slight stammer is not the end of the world. The crowd attending is not hostile, they are having fun, and will be receptive, it’s a wedding after all. If you love the moment, and have a positive mindset, you will succeed.


Marriage ceremonies are a celebration and public speaking is the icing on the cake, enjoy, there is not a white pointer or crocodile in sight, thank Goodness! there is only a microphone!

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