At most weddings, it is tradition to make speeches. It’s one of the events guests look forward to the most. And of course one of the most nerve wracking times for the people who have to actually speak. As a busy Derby & Nottingham wedding photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to many speeches and have written this article based on that experience. So if you are unsure about how it all works or want a few tips and advice as to what makes a good wedding speech then read on.
Traditionally the order is the Father of the Bride, the Groom then lastly the Best Man (or best men). However, nowadays many couples do not stick with tradition and you can vary it if you so want to. If you want someone else to speak then go for it! Personally I love a good speech from a bride.
Below are a few tips regarding what each speaker should cover and how to make your speech a success. One which hopefully will have everyone talking about you afterwards!
FATHER OF THE BRIDE
The father of the bride speech is fairly straight forward. Again tradition dictates that he should thank everyone for coming, welcome the groom to the family and then a few nice words about the happy couple. Adding a few light hearted stories of when the bride was a little girl is fine as long as they are not too embarrassing. In general the father of the bride speech is not expected to be very long but I have listened to some amazing speeches which have been quite long.
The groom’s speech is also fairly straight forward. The groom should thank everyone for coming and everyone who made the day possible. He should speak on behalf of both himself and his new wife. In other words, ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Do mention how beautiful the bridesmaids look and how grateful you are to your new parent in laws for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Lastly say something heartfelt about your new wife. Maybe share a story about when you knew she was the one.
THE BEST MAN
This speech is usually the most anticipated and therefore the best man is usually the one under most pressure. Everyone is expecting a funny speech and some dirt on the groom. So often this is a delicate balancing act. Dish too much dirt and you risk offending the newlyweds and possibly the family. But canned platitudes will fall flat and risk boring your audience. Also consider if your jokes are family friendly!
WHEN TO SPEAK
When is it best to have the speeches? Before the wedding breakfast or after? Again nowadays it is purely a matter of personal choice. Doing the speeches before the food means you will ‘get them out of the way’ rather than sit there worrying about it during the meal. However, afterwards means you may not enjoy the meal if you are anxious about public speaking.
Another factor to consider is how hungry you all will be? Most often guests will not have chance to eat lunch. You may find a more relaxed atmosphere after your guests are fed and after a few more drinks. They’ll be able to concentrate and enjoy the speeches more if they’re not sat there thinking about how hungry they are and secretly hoping you’ll finish quickly.
DO’S & DONT’S
As mentioned earlier. I’ve listened to more wedding speeches than your average person. Perks of the job I guess. Some have been absolutely brilliant, hilarious. Some have been tear jerkers where I’m not afraid to admit that I ended up shedding a tear too.
The main piece of advice I would give anyone planning a speech is to keep it personal and original. The temptation is to ‘google’ for inspiration but unfortunately so does everyone else.
Keeping it personal and heartfelt means your speech will always be original and unique.
Feel free to use props. For the best man, you could contact the groom’s parents to get a few embarrassing childhood photos. Reach out to his friends via Facebook for some extra dirt. Most venues can provide screens and projectors if you approach them directly and they’d be happy to keep things a surprise too.
Avoid using canned jokes taken straight off Google. If you can find them, so can everyone else.
Common jokes I urge you to avoid are:
- Your speech being like a mini skirt. Ie. long enough to cover the essentials and short enough to keep people interested. Groan!
- The groom is taking the bride on a holiday to North Wales. Apparently he’s going to Bangor for a week….Double groan!
- How your speech is as long as it takes the groom to make love (sits down). hardehar!
- It’s been an emotional day. Even the cake is in tiers…..ARGH!
Lastly, don’t go on too long. The last thing you want is the guests eye’s to glaze over. It’s better to leave them wanting more than go on and on, risking everyone secretly wishing you would shut up.
I hope this post answers a few questions you may have had about planning your wedding speeches. If you’ve liked this then please feel free to check out some of my other wedding tips which I hope will help you make your wedding planning easier.