Nailing the wedding speech

20:01, Mar 28 2012

One of the funniest wedding speeches I've heard was at the wedding of some friends where the best man opened the night's festivities. 

"When writing this, I was told the speech should last as long as the groom's love-making... so thank you and good night!"

He then motioned to sit down while the guests, even the oldies, giggled at what I thought was a pretty good ice-breaker.

It set the tone for the rest of the speeches, and that one thing - tone - is probably the most important thing when it comes to speeches, I reckon.

Too humorous, it becomes a bit of a joke and you can see guests squirm in their seats. Too mushy, the non-romantics switch off. Too rude, people will talk about it for years to come (and not in a good way). Too clever or too personal, the message can get lost and people may mutter "Guess you had to be there..."

The plethora of wedding magazines I've found myself surrounded by have provided some good advice for this area, though. Who is supposed to say what? And in what order do people talk? 

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I know that this is a moving beast, there aren't "rules" and you can do whatever you want, but I thought it was interesting to know the "traditions".

So here they are:

MC:

- Hushes the guests for speeches, introduces him/herself and his/her relationship to the couple. Explains how the night will work (who will speak, where the exits are in emergency, when the food will arrive etc). At the wedding I was at the other week, I liked how the MC went around all the tables and introduced who the groups of people were. "These are the bride's family here, these are friends from the groom's cricket club... and here we have the 'naughty' table'." Yeah, I was at that last table. Good times!

Father of the bride:

- Introduced by the MC or best man, proposes toast to the couple, usually welcomes all family and other guests, welcomes groom to family, and says a couple of things about his daughter.

Best man:

- Toasts the bridesmaids, makes light-hearted jokes about how the groom has "changed" since he's been with the bride. Funny story I was told recently - the best man referred to the groom as a "GC" in his speech. Elderly family member at front table asked out loud what a "GC" was. Bridesmaid returned fire quicker than her brain engaged and yelled "Good c***". Umm.

Groom:

- Thanks parents, thanks guests for gifts, mentions about those who couldn't be there because of illness, distance or because they have passed. Toasts the bridesmaids and makes a wee speech to his wifey.

Bride:  

- Optional for them to speak, but increasingly more are. I think I'll put my fourth form speech winning certificate into action and say a few words.   

DOs and DON'Ts:

- Tread carefully when mentioning ex-partners. It might be a funny story at the pub, but maybe not on this one day. 

- Introduce yourself. Unless you're the bride or the groom, chances are not everyone in the room will know who you are and what relationship you are to the couple. 

- Be wary of your speech dragging on. There are *so* many toasts throughout the night, be mindful that people (especially ones with a few drinks in their belly) can only tolerate so much in terms of their attention span.

- Speaking of booze, if you know you have to speak, go easy on yourself. Nothing worse than a slurry, sweary speech-maker whose message gets lost in the beer burps and booze sweats.

- Do ask around if you think there are other people who would like to speak and try to get a head's up that they will talk. This will (maybe, potentially, hopefully) prevent a random pass-around-the-mic-for-hours-on-end situation.  

- Preparation! Even if you don't want to write out a full speech (and let's be honest, it'd be great if everyone could just talk off the cuff, but not everyone can), having a few notes or at least bullet points will mean you're less likely to be overcome on the day. 

Who spoke at your wedding or who do you have plan to speak? Do you have any speech tips? Any horror stories or ones that'll make our hearts melt?

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