You may have seen in the news recently the story of a man named David Byrne who spent ten months getting celebrities to contribute a line each to his wedding speech video. Many called it the greatest wedding speech of all time, but if you haven't got the best part of a year to spare then don't worry, you can still add a touch of showbiz glamour to proceedings without needing to actually court the rich and famous. Let's find out how.
First of all, ask yourself why you're choosing to reference celebrities in the first place. Is the bride obsessed with Hello magazine? Does the groom bear a passing resemblance to Andrew Lloyd Webber? If there's only a tenuous link then keep the celebrity themed bits short and snappy, but if it's a more substantial observation you might want to consider theming the entire speech around one particular idea.
This is a risky strategy, so like a man with an injured Johnson, make sure you play with it carefully. The best strategy is to generate some material first and see what you come up with. If there's a paucity of decent stuff, either ditch the theme or keep it short. Here's a brief example which varies in approach to describe a football fan using a range of different references:
"Alan is notoriously football mad and I can't help but notice he shares a lot of traits with famous players. He's got Peter Crouch's height and Wayne Rooney's hairline, with a voice like the lovechild of Harry Kane and Gary Neville. Like Joey Barton you'd love him on your side and hate him if he's not. He's as left wing as Stuart Downing and up front more often than Ruud Van Nistelrooy. But most importantly for Hannah's sake, he's got the loyalty of one club men like Matt Le Tissier, Paul Scholes and Ryan Gi… erm… forget that last one."
Once you've decided on how much of the speech will be celebrity themed, you need to figure out whether your audience will actually get the references you're making. Will the old folks know who Taylor Swift is? Are the young-uns really going to sit through four pages of Frank Carson references? Try and obtain a balance and mention things that everyone can understand and enjoy, or at the very least make sure you cater for those who have no idea who you're talking about:
"Jack's always had a bit of the Kanye West about him. A right cocky bastard with a love of bling, bum and boobs… for those of you who don't know who he is, Jack's sat there next to the bride."
Picking out traits of various celebrities and applying them to the bride and groom is one easy way to generate gags, but you could also go for a less direct method and simply use the famous folk as a jumping off point. Here's an example of how that might work:
"Samantha's got a bit of an obsession with the Spice Girls, and at various points throughout her life she's been every single one of them. As a baby she'd be all cute and innocent, but when she turned seven she instantly became scary. Eventually Sam managed to channel this aggression and star in her school's hockey team, becoming sporty in the process. And an accident one night with some home hair-dye led to a brief stint as a ginger, until mum nipped to Tesco's for some colour corrector. But today our Sammy likes to believe she's posh… as she sits there with her elbows on the table and her glass of Lambrini trying to hold in her burps."
Another way of generating some good material would be to take a famous person and deliver a small piece of the speech in their style. You don't have to be good at impressions to do this, but make sure once more that the celebrity you are aping has relevance to the subject at hand - don't pull out a John Wayne-style speech just because you've got his southern drawl down to a T.
There are plenty of ways to approach a celebrity themed list and the examples in this article are just a few of the angles you might take. Your chosen celeb doesn't even have to be real - you could reference a character from the Simpsons if it's relevant. Alternatively, try and think who might play your subject in a film, or which musician seems to sing a lot of songs that describe them perfectly.
There's also a lot of material to be found in framing your piece as a celebrity interview, Oscar acceptance speech or an episode of Celebrity Big Brother. The last one makes particular sense, since most weddings involve drunken shenanigans and a lot of people who nobody has ever heard of before. Whoever you decide to reference and whatever style of jokes you go for, just make sure it all makes sense and knits together well. And with the right combination of observations and humour you'll end up with a rip-roaring wedding speech so good you may even end up famous yourself!