Being asked to play an important role in someone's wedding is an honor—one that causes a rush of excitement (mostly related to bachelorette party-planning) with an undercurrent of dread: 'Oh god, I'm going to have to write and deliver a speech that's moving, heartfelt, and also doubles as a standup set.'
Which is where public speaking professionals come in. This weekend, the New York Times tracked the rise of ghostwriting services, not for athletes or political candidates, but for average Joes asked to make speeches for loved ones.
Brooklyn husband-and-wife duo Victoria Wellman and Nathan Phillips are the brains behind Oratory Laboratory, which, for the price of about $500, works with people to write personalized speeches through questionnaires and in-person meetings. There's also high-end lifestyle consulting business Insider NYC, where CEO Lindsi Shine keeps a team of ghostwriters to help "tongue-tied 1 percenters."
Why fork over so much money for such a service? "I'm from Indiana," Shine explains, "and in Indiana we go to weddings and we enjoy them. In New York, we go to weddings and we review them."
Despite the fact that both companies specialize in customization, they do have a few tips that apply to everyone: Don't use bland, nonspecific language ("If you say the groom's favorite thing to do on a Saturday night is drink wine and watch sports, I want to know what wine he drinks, what sports he likes, and what's so crazy about his devotion to the Steelers," Wellman says."), don't put too much emphasis on funny stories ("We always say a speech should be about 70 percent humor, 30 percent sincerity.") resist embarrassing anecdotes ('It's a toast, not a roast."), and err on the side of brevity.
Or if all else fails, you can always do as Amy Schumer does, and fall into the sorority sister trap of writing a series of horribly embarrassing rhyming couplets: