Speeches and vows are one of the most important aspects of the wedding day. It can be incredibly overwhelming when choosing to write and recite your promises to your partner, especially when it is in front of your family and friends. Allow your vows to speak to the soul of your relationship and capture your personality with the help of experts, Brian and Nicole Franklin, co-founders of Vows & Speeches.
We sat down with Brian to learn more about them, their company, and the services they offer.
Tell us a little bit about you, your background and what inspired you to start this company.
Nicole and I came from political consulting - and while it’s been good to us, these last seven years have been soul-crushing. I had been poking into new business ideas that were more scalable, but nothing ever really stuck. But in the pandemic, when a ton of wedding pros were on clubhouse, I got in a room and floated the idea of helping people with their wedding speeches. (I had done a fair bit of speechwriting in politics.) It was suggested to me that we add custom vows and ceremony scripts for amateur officiants - and a light turned on in my head. By the end of the day we had VowsAndSpeeches.com, a logo and a website. Literally the next day we had our first client.
The response from wedding planners and other pros was incredibly enthusiastic and Nicole and I saw how this could be something big if it’s done the right way. We want to normalize the act of getting help, and treat the content of weddings with as much professionalism and creativity as the optics. We’re working to make Vows & Speeches a major force in the development of this niche.
What do you all offer when it comes to weddings?
We help people write their vows, wedding speeches, and ceremony scripts - but we also assist with wedding website content, other event-oriented speeches, and even proposals! Once our clients have a draft they love, we then work with them to help them refine the delivery.
Why should a couple write their own vows as opposed to going with more traditional options?
Everyone’s story is different, and that uniqueness is what makes custom vows and ceremonies so powerful. We’ve all heard the generic vows and scripts so many times, and when they are customized, it is so much more powerful and fun. Also, not everyone in the audience knows you as a couple or knows your origin story. By telling it in the vows or ceremony or both, you get the audience invested in the rest of the night.
Tell us about your process when working with a couple. Do you write the vows for the couple? How involved are they actually?
They’re very involved. Whether we’re doing the vows, the ceremony, or a wedding speech - we start with an in-depth interview that gives us all of the raw materials. We then distill that down to 1-2 minutes of copy for the vows, 3-4 minutes for wedding speeches, and 8-10 minutes of narrative for the ceremony (notwithstanding passages or add-ons). Our clients get unlimited revisions - so if it’s not right, we work on it until they’re totally happy. Occasionally our draft unlocks what they want to say - and the client takes over… but most of the time we have minimal edits. It’s their words that are driving it.
Once they have a draft they love, and they’ve had a chance to practice it out loud a bit, we set up a time to work with them on the delivery. If they want multiple practice sessions, we can add those in.
When couples ask a friend or family member to officiate, that’s a fairly big burden—a lot of writing. Many amateur officiants either don’t have the skills or run out of time, and wind up grabbing a very generic ceremony off the internet or slapping elements together. In either case, it winds up lacking the level of personalization the couple was hoping for by picking them. In this case we interview the couple as well as the officiant that knows them, and craft a very personal ceremony with three perspectives.
Not everyone is a great writer or public speaker in the same way that not everyone can build a cabinet or fix a car. But there’s no reason you can’t make these moments powerful and special - and still be authentically you. Just contact us and we’ll help you!
At what part of the planning process do clients typically reach out to you, and what is your turnaround time?
It’s all over the map. We have clients that have come to us over a year out, and others that come to us in a panic two days before the wedding. We can service either, but the panic buyers deny themselves an opportunity to sit with the drafts a bit and time to practice to nail the delivery. Generally we recommend a minimum of two weeks to get it right, but probably a third of our clients come to us at the last minute.
We encourage planners to talk to their clients as early as possible - as it’s something fun they can do long before there are debates about who is invited or tablecloth covers or other details. Especially if they’re going to have a friend or family member officiate.
What advice do you give to couples who are trying to select those who will give speeches at their weddings?
Since these choices are steered more by the nature of the relationship rather than the public speaking or writing talent of the speakers, what we do is encourage them to think about who is most likely to go long, to ramble, and/or drink too much and go off the rails. Those people can and should be given help in advance. Same with anyone that is nervous about doing it because of a fear of public speaking. Those people go in with so much more confidence when they’ve had some professional guidance and coaching.
What is your expert tip (or tips) for someone delivering a wedding speech?
The wedding speech should be a tribute to both of the couple, should be short (3-4 minutes), and most importantly, do no harm. No joke is worth upsetting someone and to go long and hog the mic takes the air out of the room and kills what is a very carefully calculated timeline. Too many speakers think this is their opportunity for stand-up or overestimate their talent for holding a room past a few minutes.
This can’t be emphasized enough: read it out loud and time it. If it is longer than the time you’ve been given, edit it. Or get help!
What is the most memorable moment of your business so far.
It took a while, but when one of our clients first sent their wedding video teaser, 90% of the audio were of the two of them telling their vows to each other… the ones we helped them write. It served as a beautiful soundtrack to the video - and Nicole and I just completely teared up. Whenever we get a report back from our clients, it hits us hard. And reminds us that we made the right gamble— because this is so much better than politics!
Are there any cringe-worthy (or funny) speech moments you wish to share? (whether as a wedding guest or working with a client - it can stay anonymous)
In talking to the wedding planners from budget to luxury, we’ve heard so many stories from their past of disastrous wedding speeches. A father of the bride speech that went 45 minutes and killed the wedding. The best man who joked about how many of the groomsmen slept with the bride. The maid-of-honor who complained that the ugly-duckling sister got married first. It goes on and on. But that’s one of the reasons why we exist: You can’t assume the people in your wedding party will demonstrate the best judgment. Some of them need professional guidance.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Too many things! We love to travel. I used to be a professional musician and still occasionally dabble with recording. Nicole and I are boaters and love that whole scene… hanging out in the marina and having cocktails with our friends. I’m also a big car nut and spend way too much time looking at classic sports cars I will never buy and shouldn’t even be looking at.
Any final thoughts you'd love to share?
There’s no reason for any part of the wedding to be boring and impersonal, especially given the budgets people are spending. If you imagine a four hour wedding - the speech section alone can be 8-10% of the total time. Take 8-10% of your spending on the wedding and ask “Would I pay this amount of money to bore people? How can we make sure this part goes the way we really want it to?” That’s our value proposition: to provide some assistance so it will.