We’ve got the wedding speech experts at Speechy to give us the lowdown on who should really give a speech.
Traditionally, it was the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. Three blokes and only one of them was meant to be funny. In a world where we have same sex marriages, more diverse family set ups, people getting married later in life and, who would believe it, women who are funny – we don’t agree. The traditional etiquette can work a treat (and it might work wonderfully for you) but consider your options. Ideally you don’t want more than four speakers (with clear guidelines on expected durations) so pick wisely…
It’s fair enough if you’d prefer to sit back and scoff the champers while others say nice things about you but there’s a lot of benefits to bride’s giving a speech. Firstly guests love it; it’s fun, fresh and still unusual enough to be cool. It’s also a sure fire way of speaking to everyone on the day even if it is via a microphone. You might also find it’s a rather lovely opportunity to be really lovely to your new husband. If you can’t quite tackle the nerves of giving a solo speech, consider giving a joint Mr & Mrs speech. Your groom might jump at the chance of taking the pressure off him.
Maybe your dad isn’t around or maybe you just think your mum would relish the opportunity to get a word in. We also find the mother of the groom generally has a lot to say so consider all options. Whether it’s the mums or the dads, reassure them that their speech doesn’t need to be long; certainly no potty-training anecdotes required.
The old or the young
It’s lovely to have a quirky speaker in the line-up; someone who has absolutely no etiquette to follow and immediately puts a smile on people’s faces. We heard a great speech by an 89 year old grandpa; there was no formalities, no toast but a few good anecdotes and a great sense of love and affection. Another idea is considering a younger speaker, perhaps a teenage niece’s take on love or a Winnie the Pooh passage read by your godson.
Maid of honour
Already very popular in America, we’re now seeing more maid of honour speeches over here too. Some are sweet and some much funnier than the best man’s effort. Decide which you’d like and give them a steer before you let them loose.
You may want to opt for no formal speeches but welcome anyone to raise a toast to you if the notion takes them over the meal. This adds a bit of spontaneity to proceedings and takes the pressure off the traditional speakers. It can also help solve some of the moral crisis that can result from complicated family set-ups. Be warned though, by the time the table wine has been drunk and the desserts are on the table, there may be a lot of people wanting to get involved!
Speaking to the speakers
Finally, once you’ve decided who you’d like to give a speech it’s time to let everyone know. We wouldn’t recommend ‘dropping’ a traditional speaker unless you know they’d appreciate being ‘let off the hook’ but encouraging them to keep it ‘short and sweet’ is perfectly acceptable. We like this quote from George Davidson (etiquette expert) ‘whatever is appropriate for a particular marriage or partnership in particular circumstances is always the right option’. Which to us means, do what you want without making anyone cry.
Heidi is a TV scriptwriter and founder of Speechy; a bespoke wedding speech writing service. She’s written for the BBC, Channel 4 and numerous celebrities. Visit the website for wedding speech advice.