By SAM JOHNSON of CARMELA WEDDINGS
When they are good, the speeches are often the highlight of the whole day.
However… when they go wrong…
Now, there are no hard and fast rules around who does a speech, and anyone from your godson to your Great Auntie Mabel can grab the mic if you feel they have something worthwhile to say, but, think about the timings here. We’ve worked at a wedding where after the 8 speeches (yes eight) a request was made to the floor for anyone else who might fancy making one!
The whole speech section took just over two hours. Even the most accomplished professional after-dinner speakers would have their work cut out keeping the audience listening for that long!
So, whilst there is no definitive list, there is a traditional order of who gives a speech, which we’ll run through here. The order needs to be flexible, although I would say keep the best (man) until last. Similarly, where you fit the speeches into the big day is entirely your choice. Some couples like to have them before the wedding breakfast as this way those giving a speech are not racked with nerves whilst they are eating and unable to enjoy their food! (Also, nerves often equal drinking too much alcohol, which is also not a great idea)! There are some pretty basic guidelines to follow that should avert any potential nightmares!
Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Fail to prepare – prepare to fail”. That’s where the success of your speech will be guaranteed – in the work you put in beforehand.
Do your research – how big is the room? What is the makeup of the audience? How long is expected? Knowing the answers to all these and more will help to put your mind at rest.
Innovate! If you’re confident enough you can always try something different. Use props, a slideshow, or even write a song if you are confident enough! This will keep it interesting, and also give you a break from just standing up and talking. Check out the “Best Man Joe” speech online for the best example ever!
Rehearse – and I don’t mean read it through quietly to yourself. Stand up and project it darling! Choose a good friend to use as a sounding board and make those important decisions before the big day. Written out in full or cue cards? Bawdy Stag do tale or cutesy growing up anecdote? Mic or no mic? Get everything that you can sorted before the day, and some of your stress (a small portion, but still some) will be dealt with! Enjoy it – or if you really can’t, take some deep breaths and at least try to smile!
So – here is the order that most people still tend to favour:
The father of the bride – If he’s up for it, and more importantly, can keep control of the waterworks for five minutes or so, the father of the bride is usually first up. He generally thanks all the guests for coming and then tells a cheeky story or two from his daughter’s childhood, before proposing a toast to the happy couple. This one can go either way. A loving dad nostalgically reminiscing is one thing, a blubbering mess lamenting the loss of his little girl is another! Definitely put this one first, but remember, if the FOTB isn’t keen to make a speech, do not make him!
The groom – The generic speech from the groom has been done to death, but still needs doing! Thanking the father of the bride for his speech and his toast, then saying how happy he is today and how beautiful his new wife looks. I’m not saying this isn’t all good stuff, but chaps, try to be a bit more creative. A little story about how you met, a gag or two (appropriate please). You can still then do the bread and butter bits like giving out gifts to the important people on the day.
The bride – These days, it’s more and more common for the bride to want to say a few words, after all, it’s her wedding too! There really are no rules for this one, only that the tone of the speech should reflect the tone of the wedding. If it’s a traditional affair, lip-syncing Beyonce and dancing on the table probably isn’t the best idea.
The best man – The job of giving the final – and hopefully most memorable – speech goes to the best man or men. His role is to thank the groom for his toast to the bridesmaids, on their behalf, and also offer thanks from any other attendants. However, that’s the bit nobody will remember. It’s when he gets the chance to launch into an anecdote-laden, joke-festooned trip down memory lane that the audience sits up and takes notice. Best men – you can absolutely bring the house down at this point. Seriously, for ten glorious minutes of your life, you are a combination of Michael McIntire, Frank Sinatra, Peter Kay and Elvis. You could also ruin numerous relationships, shatter the atmosphere on the day and in the worst case scenario, turn the plushest hotel into a Wild West brawl, so take your time, think this through and get the balance right!
Jokes? But of course. Slightly saucy, but still acceptable for grandma anecdotes? You know it makes sense.
Heartfelt wrap-up about your amazing friendship with the groom? Obviously!
Enjoy yourself, and the opportunity to tell a great story, but remember, it’s not your wedding so you still need to wrap up with a toast to the happy couple!
There are loads of occasions when someone else is integral to the whole wedding story, so of course, if you want your chief bridesmaid, stepdad, nan, important other etc to also make a speech, then do it! There are no rules! Just think about the practicalities before you give everyone the green flag!
So, there you have it. We all love them. Remember in the words of Mark Twain, “There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.”
So, embrace those nerves, and give them a speech to remember!