As a bride, groom, best man or best woman, you might yourself in need of wedding speech tips. For a wedding guest, the speeches are often a highly anticipated part of the day. By the time they come around, drinks are flowing, a ‘length-of-speeches sweepstake’ may be circulating and everyone is eagerly awaiting previously-unheard anecdotes that are about to be dug up on the newlyweds. There is often a lot of hype around the speeches and everyone is urging them to go well…
Spare a thought, then, for the speech makers. Particularly if public speaking is not their forte. Some people revel in entertaining a crowd, but it’s not everyone’s thing to stand up in front of a room full of people. There are, however, ways to make it more comfortable for them.
Who should make the speeches and in what order?
Traditionally, speeches are made by the Father of the Bride, followed by the Groom and finally the Best Man/Men/Woman/Women. The role of the FoB is to thank everyone for coming; welcome the Groom into the family; talk proudly about his daughter and toast the newlyweds. Next comes the Groom wedding speech, who should also thank the guests (perhaps mentioning those who have come from afar), both sets of parents, the bridal party and then compliment his new wife (ending with a toast to her). Finally, it’s the turn of the Best Man who should also compliment the bride; dish out some great stories about the Groom (assessing his audience before he does so!) and again, toast the Bride and Groom. As I said, though, this is the traditional way of doing things…
Going against tradition…
More and more, I am seeing a modern approach to wedding speeches and I applaud all the girls who are standing up and having their say on their wedding day. Firstly, there should be no pressure on any of the men to talk if they really don’t enjoy it. Secondly, why shouldn’t the ladies have a chance to express their thoughts and feelings? A bride at a wedding I attended last summer performed an admirably-heartfelt speech for her new husband and I have the utmost respect for Mothers of the Bride, Maids of Honour and Bridesmaids who do the same. Equally, for same-sex marriages, both or neither half of the couple may like to speak and the same goes for their nearest and dearest.
If you do decide to have more speeches than you may consider “traditional” then my only advice would be to ask everyone to keep theirs a little bit shorter. Ideally, you don’t want your wedding breakfast to be longer than 3 hours (including speeches). Everyone will be itching to get on the dance floor!
When should the speeches be delivered?
The other tradition with speeches is to deliver them after dinner. Going back to my original point about public speaking not being everyone’s cup of tea, you may choose to rethink this tradition so that your speakers don’t have to wait until the end of their meal before they can relax.
Going against tradition…
As you want all your guests to enjoy the day, ideally, no one should be nervously pushing their beef wellington around their plate waiting for their turn to speak. What you may like to consider, is having the speeches before the wedding breakfast. Personally, I like this layout. However, if you are planning on doing it this way, do ensure your guests aren’t hungry! Either provide plenty of canapés during the drinks reception, or have the starter then have the speeches, followed by the main course and dessert. Obviously this would need to be agreed with your caterers.
Another option would be to alternate one speech with each course, breaking it up nicely. I’ve been to a wedding where the Groom speech was given as part of the outdoor drinks reception. I loved this idea as everyone sat around outside and listened, as they sipped on rosé, making it wonderfully informal.
Tips for the speech makers:
- If you want to read your speech word for word, it’s fine! This isn’t a public-speaking competition. However, you may want to print it out on stiff card, as paper often requires two hands to hold it. If you are going to read it, try to look up at your audience as often as you can, to keep them engaged
- If you feel more confident, write bullet points on cue cards and use them as prompts
- Deliver your speech slowly and clearly. Find out beforehand if there is going to be a microphone. If there is, practice performing your speech with something in your hand. If you are holding cue cards and a microphone, you won’t be able to gesticulate as much as you might wish
- Don’t drink too much before it’s your turn to talk. A bit of Dutch courage can help to settle the nerves, but best not to get carried away!
- Keep your speech short and to the point, especially if a lot of people are making one. You want everyone to be engaged from start to finish
- Assess your audience. If there are grandparents in the room, consider your content!
- Try to avoid “in-jokes”. By all means embarrass the Groom(s) a little – what else is the Best Man/Woman speech for?? But you want everyone to find the jokes funny, not just your close circle of mates
- Be original with your content and jokes. Blogs such as Hitched have some great wedding speech templates to get you started, but it does need to be personal and relevant to your couple