The first time I ever stepped up to a microphone at a wedding reception, I was 22 years old. It was my first time performing as a Wedding MC & DJ and I was absolutely terrified to introduce the Wedding Party into the room. Since that day, I’ve become significantly more comfortable with speaking in front of a group of people. So, for those asked to do a reading at the wedding ceremony and absolutely terrified of public speaking – I can relate.
I don’t claim to be a public speaking expert, but performing in front of wedding guests every weekend is no longer a fear of mine. In fact, I absolutely love the thrill of it. So, I feel I have enough qualifications to justify offering those of you asked to give a reading at the wedding ceremony with the following six tips:
Speak Into The Microphone
If you follow only one tip on this list, make it this one! The passage you’ve been asked to read is very important to the couple, so please step up to the microphone and be heard by all! For proper amplification, you need to be as close to the microphone as possible. Typically, the microphone should be no further than 2-4″ away from your mouth. Prior to guests arriving, do a soundcheck with your DJ or sound technician and make the proper adjustments. Trust me, a great soundcheck will only add to your confidence as a public speaker.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Please, do not do a “cold read” at the wedding ceremony. Practice reading the passage out loud well in advance, as often as you can. Whether it is a poem, song lyrics, a bible passage, or a blessing, practice performing it, as a performed reading will sound so much better than a cold, monotone reading. Make notes on where to pause for dramatic effect, what words or phrases to emphasis, changes in tones, pacing, and volume, et cetera. Finally, rehearse a few times in front of people you trust and listen to their constructive feedback.
Don’t Improvise, Nor Try to Add Humor
The wedding ceremony is a very serious moment for everyone involved. The risk/reward ratio for trying to add funny that isn’t already in the reading just isn’t worth it. If you do have a humorous idea or concept, please clear it with the bride and groom in advance.
Don’t Read Your Passage From A Folded, Wrinkled Piece of Paper
Presentation is everything! Print your passage and apply it to a nice stock card that matches the color scheme of the wedding. For a vintage look, browse your local thrift shop or secondhand bookstore for a nice hardcover book to insert your passage into, or pick up this faux book via my Amazon affiliate link. For a modern touch, read it off your phone or tablet. Make sure you have a nice cover (again, presentation matters!) and turn your brightness down if you are in a dimly lit room.
Speak Slowly and Clearly
If you’ve rehearsed in front of others, they will indubitably tell you if you are speaking too fast, stumbling through words, or mumbling. This is good to know! Constructive feedback will help you practice slowing down because come wedding day, nerves and adrenaline will only amplify the speed at which your brain operates. A tip from someone who speaks in front of hundreds of people each weekend: take a deep breath before you step up to the microphone, clear your mind, and speak your first line at a slightly slower pace than you normally speak. Psychologically, this technique will set your mind’s reading pace, and you’ll perform just fine.
Remember: It’s An Honor and a Privilege To Give a Reading At The Ceremony
Whether you hate public speaking or not, just remember that of all the people in attendance, the couple personally chose you to serve a prominent role during their wedding ceremony. You’re an integral part of one of the most important days of their lives. So, even if you want to faint, remind yourself that they are confident in you, so there is no reason not to be confident in yourself.
Originally Published: June 1, 2018
Last Updated: December 28, 2021
Photo Credit: Lauren Cross Photography