3 ways to make your wedding speeches memorable for the right reasons!
Many people can be nervous about giving their speeches. Even those accustomed to public speaking can feel the pressure when the audience is mainly family and friends. So let's make it easier for them and help their speeches to go down well by arranging things properly.
In this article we have used the terms "Bride", "Groom", "Best Man", etc, but we appreciate all weddings are different and you may have different people, roles or sexes delivering some or all of your speeches. It's your day - do it how you like!
We have listened to nearly a thousand speeches and have come to a slightly surprising conclusion, which applies to the majority of weddings (again this might differ in your personal circumstances)
- It is important who is giving the speech.
- What they say can be more important.
- The most important thing is how they say it - the love and respect which comes across in their speech and delivery is the thing which will be most remembered and commented on in future years.
With all this in mind, here are our three rules for making your speeches memorable.
(1) Seat the SPEAKERS close together
The basic principal is to ensure everyone in the room can watch the speaker and see the reactions of the bride/groom/family at the same time. It does not work as well if the speaker is on one side of the room and everyone else is on the other. If you have a "conventional" top table arrangement with bride, groom, parents, best man, etc, all sat together this works well. If for whatever reason speakers are seated on other tables then the simplest solution is to make sure they come and stand close to you to give their speech, perhaps to use the same microphone.
This also makes life a lot easier for the photographers and the videographers, if you have them, as they can get get reaction shots with all of the people involved in the same image (see the bride's reaction shot below with the best man on the right of the image).
(2) Make Sure Each Speaker is Properly Introduced
Here are two scenarios for speeches, one bad, one good:
Not So GOOD Set up
The first speaker stands up hesitantly in a noisy room at the end of the meal. He coughs to try to get everyone's attention and mumbles his opening line "I'd like to thank you all for coming." People are still chatting away to each other at the end of the room while others struggle to hear what the speaker is saying. At the end of his speech, he says "Now it's the groom's turn" and quickly sits down. Nobody knows if they should clap or not, so no one claps. There's an embarrassing silence. The groom hesitantly stands up ... and so it continues through the speeches.
Good Set up
The Toastmaster* stands up, bangs their little gavel (hammer) or taps a glass until the room is silent. Then in a loud projecting voice they announce "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now time for the speeches. Please join me in welcoming the Father of the Bride, Mr John Smith!" At which point the Toastmaster begins to clap and everyone joins in, clapping and cheering as the first speaker rises, smiling and pleased at this warm welcome. At the end of his speech, the Toastmaster again leads the warm applause. After this dies down, then the Toastmaster introduces the next speaker in the same way.
The key difference between the two scenarios is how much more confident each speaker feels given the warm introduction, and also how everyone in the room is geared up and ready to listen, enjoy and applaud each speaker at the end.
*You don't have to have a dedicated Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies complete with their red jacket and detailed knowledge of wedding etiquette. A close friend with a outgoing and engaging personality (and a loud voice) would be a good substitute provided they can perform the introductions and leading of applause.
(3) Make Sure Each Speaker Knows What They Need to Say, OR Not Say
Our upcoming "Bride's Guide to Speeches" will go into more detail on what each speaker should include in their speech, so we have only put the basic details here. The main advantage of each speaker knowing who is covering what (but not the actual words of the other speeches!) is to reduce duplication and repetition between speakers, so each speech is shorter, has more punch and it better received. Remember it is always preferably to leave the audience wanting more rather than outstaying your welcome. As a wise man once said "A good speech is like a mini skirt - short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover the essentials".
Assuming a "traditional" arrangement of three speakers - Father of the Bride, Groom and Best Man, the key points are normally covered in this order:
- The Father of the Bride (traditionally is the host of the event)
- Welcome to all for coming.
- Mention you are speaking on behalf of both sets of parents (if this is appropriate)
- Mention of family and friends who have travelled a great distance.
- Mention of absent family and friends, grandparents if not present, etc and a toast to them.
- A few words about the Bride as a baby or child growing up - scope for a slightly embarrassing story.
- Key mention of how beautiful the Bride looks and how proud you are of her.
- A few words about the Groom, perhaps how he was first introduced to the Bride's parents.
- If the Groom asked the Father's permission to marry his daughter, then certainly include this story - it always goes down well.
- Include a piece of advice on marriage, preferably in a self depreciating light hearted manner, but serious advice can also work well.
- Finish with a toast to the Bride and Groom.
Key points for Father of the Bride - Please DO NOT include the bride's full CV, how many GCSEs she has or at what age she passed Grade 8 on the Piano. You and your family already know this information, the others do not really want to know. What they really want to hear is that you love your daughter and you are really proud of her, you like the groom and think they are a wonderful couple together, and you wish them all the happiness in the world in their married life together. (Note if any of the above isn't actually true, this really isn't the time to mention it, so just fake it!)
- The Groom
- Always start with "My wife and I..." - that always gets a cheer and round of applause.
- Mention how gorgeous your Bride is and how lucky you are.
- Your speech is basically a set of thank you speeches to various people - just go with it.
- Thank the parents of the bride for raising such a wonderful daughter for you to marry.
- Thank your parents for raising such a wonderful son (always gets a laugh!)
- Give out presents to both sets of parents.
- Thank the caterers, cake makers, decorators, close friends who helped arrange the wedding day.
- Thank the bridesmaids and give out their presents.
- Thank the ushers and give out their presents.
- Thank the best man for his efforts and give out his presents or keep for later to see how their speech goes.
- Thank the most important person in the room - the Bride. Tell her she is gorgeous (again!) how much you love her and how much it means to you to be married to her today and to spend the rest of your lives together.
- Finish with a toast to the Bridesmaids.
- The Best Man
- Thank the Groom for his kind words, and toast to the Bridesmaids.
- Thank the Groom for the honour of being his Best Man and the opportunity to ridicule him.
- Mention how long you have know the Groom and your shared history (assuming you have one!)
- Tell one or two stories about the Groom designed to slightly embarrass but not to completely humiliate him.
- If you have written the speech with friends while drinking, read the speech again when sober and take half of it out.
- Check for swearing and take it out - the lads might enjoy it but you don't want most of the audience against you.
- If the Bride likes a joke with some innuendo, make sure you give her one.
- Remember the parents, elderly aunts and the vicar might be present - don't include anything which you really would not want included if you were in the Groom's place.
- Mention the stag do, with the implication of horrendous events which occurred, but say as they were on the stag do you can only discuss them in the bar afterwards.
- Mention how the Bride and Groom met (if you were present) or when you were first introduced to the Bride.
- Mention how great the Bride looks, what a nice person she is and how much the Groom is punching above his weight.
- Mention how good they are together and wish them a long and happy life together.
- Finish with a toast to the Bride & Groom.
Key Points for the Best Man - Leave the audience knowing that you and the Groom are really good mates and you do actually love him in a bromance sort of way. The ideal goal is to have one great story so the Groom has his head in his hands while the Bride and both families are enjoying a great laugh at his expense. If too many people are cringing or there are a string of stories which all include old girlfriends and/or drunken vomit then you might have gone too far!
Summary - You NEED TO Prepare for the Speeches TO Go WELL
Compared to the time and effort which goes into many parts of the wedding day, the speeches can be sadly neglected. There is much more to the speech than the words written on the paper. How the speeches are presented is a key part of their success and a lack of preparation leads to badly delivered and poorly received speeches.
Hopefully yours will now go down really well and leave you and your guests happy and smiling.
To make sure you get the best wedding photographs from your day, contact us now on 01276 683712.