Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Carrie & Andrew will be getting married this October in San Diego. And all wedding journeys must start with the engagement (photos) ! It was such fun hanging out with them at Sunset Cliffs. Despite being breezy and overcast, we had fun and I am so excited to photograph their wedding day in a couple of months !
Thursday, June 30, 2016
You want your speech to go down in history ... for the right reasons. David Litt, President Obama's former speechwriter - and now a head writer for Funny or Die DC - spills his best hacks. Cheers to that !
If you write speeches for the president of the United States, it's only a matter of time before you also end up writing speeches for your friends. During my five years in the White House, I did all sorts of pro bono work for fellow 20somethings: birthdays, graduations, online-dating profiles. In my experience, however, nothing scares people more than wedding toasts. A year ago, I was outside the White House when I was cornered by a coworker I'll call Steph.
"Can I talk to you for a second?" she asked. The urgency in her voice didn't bode well. Steph was a high-ranking lawyer in the White House Counsel's office. In a best-case scenario, I was going to have to rewrite a speech. Worst case, I was going to jail. I braced myself as she continued, "My sister's getting married next weekend. Can I run a few ideas by you?" Steph hadn't struck me as a person who'd be nervous about this. She'd helped shape President Obama's legal strategy. Saying a couple of nice things about her sister hardly seemed intimidating.
At the same time, I get it. Weddings bring together two camps of people who often barely know each other. At the end of the night, the only thing they'll have in common is that they've listened to the same set of toasts - quite possibly toasts so rambling or inappropriate that the shock outlasts the honeymoon. No one wants to be that person. And you don't have to.
While there's no one formula for a perfect wedding toast, there is a way to nearly guarantee yourself a good (or at the very least, not horribly embarrassing) speech this wedding season.
1. INTRODUCE YOURSELF
Any speech begins with a simple question: Why are you the one holding the mic? Writing for POTUS, the answer was pretty obvious. If you're not the commander in chief, however, you have a little explaining to do. You know the uncle from out of town, the one who missed last Thanksgiving and no one in the bride's family even noticed? If you want to give a toast everyone can follow, make sure that even that guy knows who you are. Don't tell us about every single class you took with the bride or the year you had a friends-with-benefits situation going on with the groom. Instead, let us know, in just one sentence, who you are and how you know the happy couple.
2. SHARE A STORE ONLY YOU CAN SHARE
A former boss of mine used to tell me, "Speeches are won or lost in the research." That's as true of weddings as it is with addresses on housing policy (although housing-policy addresses would be way more fun with a DJ and an open bar). Make a list of your favorite moments with the person you're celebrating. Are any of them R-rated or, heaven help us, NC-17? Cross them off immediately. Are any of them really about you instead of her? Cross those off too. Then sift through the rest for a story that describes what makes your friend unique. You don't have to be hilarious, but try to be detailed. What was the model of that beat-up old car she drove in college? You want to show your audience your favorite side of this person, the one that you know better than anyone else.
3. PINPOINT A BEST QUALITY
"Show, don't tell." If you've ever taken a writing class, you've almost certainly been given this advice, and it's almost always worth following ... just not for speeches. For your toast, try a show-then-tell approach instead. After painting a picture or your bride or groom with your story, tell us the moral we're supposed to take away. What's the One Big Thing we should remember about this person, long after we've forgotten the name of the groomsman who had a highly inflated opinion of his ability to Nae Nae? If you're still stumped, try filling in the blank. "No matter what, I can always count on [insert name] to _______." Note: If the answer is "have a half-empty bottle of tequila in her purse," this thought experiment may not be right for you.
4. MAKE THE COUPLE THE STAR OF YOUR STORY
You know the old saying, If you don't have something to say, don't say anything at all? Here's an exception. If you don't have something nice to say about the person your friend is marrying, fake it. Maybe they bring out the best in each other. Maybe she's got a nice family. Whatever it is, find something. Better yet, if you actually do like the person your friend is marrying, tell us why. You've already told us about a special person, now tell us about a special couple.
5. FINISH WHERE YOU STARTED
By now, you should be about four minutes into your speech. (An extremely useful wedding rule is that if you're going to speak for more than five minutes ... don't.) There are lots of ways to finish a speech, but here's an easy trick: Go back to something you said at the very start. Grab one of those details from your story. Repeat your One Big Thing. Remind us of a funny line or a favorite saying that seems more profound now that we know something special about the couple. Then raise your glass, wish the newlyweds a lifetime of health and happiness, and take a seat.
Or if that sounds like too much work, you could e-mail the White House and ask President Obama to deliver your wedding toast for you. That guy really knows how to give a speech. *