Meghan Markle's 5 Wedding Speech TIPS!


Yes, yes , yes more & more women are doing it, I’ve done it, a few brave friends have done it… and now Meghan Markle is doing it.  Do you know any women who are planning to speak at their wedding?  

If you do decide to buck tradition, like Meghan Markle, or you know a woman who’s up for it.  Please do send them this – the essential and helpful top dos and don’ts of wedding, in fact, this is just as helpful for men too.

My Wedding Speech Story…

Why oh why back in 2003 did I decide to do a speech at my wedding?  

I was on after the best man, Richard, who’s funny and after Adam, my other half, who was really well rehearsed.

The nerves built up…my cheeks were rosy-red.  I thought I’d have one glass of champers for a bit of Dutch courage? (Bad idea it dries your mouth out!)

My mind went blank and I couldn’t remember anything, I completely missed the other speeches and forgot all about the ceremony because I was feeling sick and in a haze.

When I started to speak, everyone was already standing up and because I am rather short, not everyone could see me.

I literally felt 2 inches tall.  

My voice went quivery, my rosy-red cheeks turned crimson and I started to shake and sweat. Then I had a kind of out of body experience and I looked down at myself and thought…  “What are you doing, you fool, you imposter”

My voice cracked and I was too quiet, so I tried to increase the volume but we had decided not to use microphones (bad idea).  In the room of 100 people you NEED a mike.  

My little brother Tommy (who’d had had a few) shouted, 

“Esther, louder, speak up”.  

I tried but that made it worse, my nerves had choked me.  My mouth had NO saliva at all.  Oops, shouldn’t have had the champers!

My intention had been to raise a glass to my late father, who died in 1977 (that was 26 years before the wedding so I thought I’d be able to handle it) but the tears started to flow.  

In short, what could have been a brief heart felt speech turned into a sobbing, quivering DISASTER!  Or did it?

My brother Tommy shouted, “oh come here, little sis” (note I’m 6 years older than him)

He brought me a huge glass of champagne and said, “Down that!”

Everyone laughed and clapped…which gave me 5-10 seconds to compose myself.

I bottled out of the planned emotional speech, I raised my glass to the guests, thanked everyone for coming (which was fine) – then they all cheered and clapped.

I felt I’d let myself (and women) down because I put so much pressure on myself and I failed.

It’s hard to believe that now I speak for a living! I’ve made my phobia into my comfort zone. 

I never thought I’d be in front of large audiences myself when I left the BBC to help people speak. 

So now it’s my mission to get more women to speak up.  And a great starting point is at their wedding, just like Meghan Markle. 

I don’t want women to crumble like I did.

Meghan may be an actress but she’ll still be nervous.

But how will you cope, a ‘normal person’ who has no actor training?  

You can make a success of your wedding speech (gosh I wish I’d known this in 2003).

My TOP 5 Meghan TIPS!

1. What Does The Queen Want To Hear?

Start by thinking about your audience - serve them before yourself!

Forget what YOU thought you were going to say for a moment – focus on what will make the audience laugh, cry, clap and cheer!

In Meghan’s case The Queen of England has to like it.   My advice to her would be to ask herself these questions about the Queen…

Does she have a sense of humour? Yes

Does she want you to be perfect? -No

Does she want you to be respectful to British culture? Yes 

Does she want genuine stories? Yes 

Name drop as much as you can and mention people in the audience - parents, guests, 

“My husband” “Wills”


The audience likes to feel wanted. 

2. Charm Them With A Personal Story

Tell personal stories – rule of thumb 2-3 maximum.  

Eg when I first met the Queen ... or when Harry proposed I remember ....

3. Keep It Short

I remember one of my best friend’s weddings was beautiful, a country church, a quaint country garden with a marquee for the dinner and speeches, absolute perfection, all apart from one thing… her dad’s horrible speech. 

He literally went through a long winded version of my friend’s CV which started from the moment she was born.  It was a blow- by- blow account of her life.  One LONG list of achievements. I lost the will to live and so did the rest of the guests.

TIP 4.  Use Appropriate Humor.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when it comes to wedding speeches is:

'Shall I start with a joke?’

Big rule of thumb – use humour, but no, you don’t ‘have to start with a joke’ particularly if it might be offensive in any way.  

Meghan – you’re American – so what is funny in the USA may not be perceived the same way in the UK.  

My rule is AAH – Audience appropriate humour.  (Unlike the dog joke from Will’s best man)

5. Don’t Wing it 

Whether you’re in front of the Queen and X billion TV world-wide television viewers or in front of a crowd of 20 – you must not WING IT.

If you’re an ‘off the cuff’ person – great. But at least prepare a couple of stories, a strong beginning and a good sign off, even if it’s just…. cheers! 

One wedding speech I had the misfortune to witness was in a massive church on front of hundreds of guests. 

It was one big cringe – the groom, got hold of one of those generic speeches he’d found on google and he read it on his iphone.  He didn’t have his reading glasses so he couldn’t see the text, he was nervous, flustered, wobbly and developed a stutter.   It was a disaster.  

Do not leave it to chance. 

Bonus Tip:

Smile.  Oh yes, eyes and teeth!

If all else fails, smile, breathe, pause and tell a simple story followed by a….cheers!

You’ll look confident and as if you’re enjoying yourself.  If the audience thinks you’re relaxed and confident , they’ll feel relaxed and confident about you.  

So please do share these tips with nervous wedding speakers you know!  (I wish I’d been given this advice before I ballsed up my wedding speech!)

Eyes and teeth! Now relax.

If you want to contact me about your next speech, fear not, I can help – email me

Esther Stanhope