Meet the Toronto ghostwriter behind hundreds of wedding speeches
'A good one first and foremost has to come from the heart,' Wendy Dennis says
We have all sat through them, but when it comes to writing a wedding toast a Toronto woman has a remedy to help you avoid a cringe-worthy speech that sends your family and friends beelining for the bar.
Ghostwriter Wendy Dennis says she has seen an uptick in demand for her wedding speech services in recent months —from everyone including the bride, groom, best man, maid of honour and parents — due to social media, which she claims is influencing people's awareness of how their speeches come across.
It can be really hard, even for a professional writer, to craft a speech where you have to hit all the right notes in three to five minutes.- Wendy Dennis
"What unites my clients is they really care about making a good impression and are willing to spend the money because they realize they may not have the skill," Dennis said.
Typically these include professional communicators, such as lawyers or marketers.
When it comes to writing a compelling wedding speech, Dennis explains it starts with an initial conversation that typically lasts up to an hour, in which she draws out the emotional component for a five minute toast.
"What I like about it is that I interview people about a really deeply meaningful moment in their life, so it gets intimate very fast," Dennis says.
From there, she relies on her background as an author and journalist to weave the narrative.
"Often I'll use their words, but I'll just be shaping it or crafting it a little better so it's like they're putting on a really good outfit to make themselves look better, but it's really them," she said.
'They don't realize it can be really hard'
Over the last decade, Dennis says she has sat through her fair share of horrific wedding speeches, which included one by a best man who had been friends with the groom since high school.
"You're expecting this sort of affectionate story about these best buds, and he did this story that went on and on, and he wound it up and wound it up, and you're just waiting for the punch line [which] was essentially: he was a bully then and he's a bully now."
It's like they're putting on a really good outfit to make themselves look better, but it's really them.- Wendy Dennis
Why are so many people tone deaf or tuned out when giving their wedding speeches? According to Dennis, some people think, how hard can it be getting up there and saying a few words.
"They don't realize it can be really hard, even for a professional writer, to craft a speech where you have to hit all the right notes in three to five minutes, thank people off the top, be witty, express some wisdom, be touching and funny. That's a tall order, so every word has to really work hard."
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Dennis's services typically cost $550, which covers the initial conversation and a couple of drafts.
During peak wedding season, Dennis asserts she will write about a dozen per month.
What sets the memorable speeches apart is emotion, she says, calling it a nuptial necessity.
"A good one first and foremost has to come from the heart," said Dennis.
"I find that most people get that wrong and they tend to kind of have a laundry list of points they want to hit as if they're writing a brief or a report, but really you have to think about how you feel about the person. Then use the stories that work to express the emotion."