The Wedding Planner’s Guide to Wedding Speeches

When it comes to wedding planning, how much time is given to wedding speeches?

For most brides it’s still minimal, just a matter of nominating three blokes. For some wedding planners, it doesn’t even factor in the (admittedly rather ambitious) ‘to do’ list. This is what we call a MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

Think about it. We’ve all endured crap speeches and we’ve all counted down the minutes until the free bar opens.  Everyone knows that weddings shouldn’t be hijacked for an hour by three fellas reciting Googled gags and cringey wedding clichés – yet it still seems to happen. Help make it STOP.

Add an awesome moment to your client’s day…

SUPER-STYLE-THE-SPEECHES

Wedding speeches have the power to ROCK a wedding. They can kick-start the party and create lifelong memories. Great speeches should be slap, bang, at the core of every modern wedding. They provide the wedding’s heart.

Of course, there’s the romantic view that speeches should be spontaneously wonderful. Yes, don’t put words in people’s mouths – but it pays to at least think about the speeches in advance.

Help your clients reach their full speech-potential by checking out our 10 point plan.

1 – SPEECH LINE UP

If your clients want to go down the traditional father, groom, best man route, that’s fine but at least get them to question it.

Guests love it when women get involved (even today, it still feels unusual) so encourage a more modern line-up. Brides shouldn’t feel pressure to do anything they don’t fancy, but we can personally vouch for the fact a bride’s speech is FUN.

If the bride’s reluctant, get her to think about other women who might grab the mic. Maybe it’s her sister saying a few words or perhaps it’s her nan sharing her comedy tips for a long & happy marriage. It doesn’t need to be a long or formal speech.

Another option, is delivering a Mr & Mrs Speech – where the couple deliver a joint speech. This takes the pressure off the groom and allows the newlyweds to develop their double-act. It’s a big trend this year so get them to check out our joint speech advice if they’re up for it.

Of course, don’t just think about the obvious speakers – think inventively. Young children always have comedic things to say about love and it’s great if you have an elderly relative who can add some suitably cynical advice. Contributions needn’t be lengthy, in fact better if they’re not. Quirky and cute is what we’re after.

2 – SPEECH POLITICS

We ‘fess up…. speech-politics are a pain in the proverbial. Step dad versus dad. The childhood friend versus the groom’s funny mate. It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand and hope the couple just sort it out, but hold on, you can do this…

Get the couple to think about their dream line up and then work out if anyone would be upset by it.  If the answer is yes, they could consider inviting them to give a short speech too, or even better, a reading (whereby their contribution is ‘contained’).

Re. the risqué best man… it really depends on how the groom feels. The bride shouldn’t put pressure on him to drop his mate, but if he’s also nervous about ‘Mad Pete’s’ contribution, suggest the groom recruits a ‘best man squad’. If several of his mates divvy up the best man duties, it’s legitimate to put Pete in charge of the rings and Sensible Sam on speech-duty.

3 – HELP THE GROOM

Controversial we know. We’ve met many a bride who have seethed ‘He. Has. One. Blooming. Job. To Do.’ 

We get it, we do. But before you leave him to his solo-speech-writing, it’s worth having a chat to him about it.

There’s a heck of a lot of brides sadly disappointed by the groom’s efforts on the day. Even if they’re not actually heckling ‘get on with it’ or shouting ‘that so didn’t happen’, witnessing their new husband’s shocking attempt at being romantic can sour the sweetness of the day.

Clearly, everyone wants the groom’s speech to be heartfelt, original and you know, downright amazing but remember there’s a lot of pressure on him. He has the most speech ‘to dos’ (thanking guests, toasting bridesmaids, blah de blah) so don’t let him wallow in panic and resort to dodgy templates (though clearly a Speechy groom template would be fine!).

Whether or not the bride’s giving a speech, the couple need to have a proper discussion about the thank yous. Swot up on the old school etiquette on Confetti, but get him to check out our groom speech advice if you want his thank yous to sound less like a clichéd list (clue: don’t use clichés).

Of course, writing the speech is only half the battle. If the groom’s the nervous sort, make sure he reads how to deliver your speech like a proIt’s got lots of advice in it from our years working with at the BBC and directing presenters, so genuinely good tips.

In fact, you can direct any speaker to our advice pagesOr feel free to read our advice and pass it on as your own! 

4 – INVOLVE THE GUESTS 

A great speech hack… Get the couple to ask guests for their ‘marriage advice’ when they send out the invites.

It can provide great material and guests love to get a name-check in the speeches. The advice we received when we did a similar thing ranged from ‘find a thermostat temperature you can both live with and never change it’ to ‘no number twos in front of each other’. Humorous and very, very wise.

There’s obviously options like Speech Bingo, but the novelty’s wearing thin. If you have the time to create a couple’s personalised versions (with references to their classic anecdotes like ‘the Ibiza incident’) then it feels less of an ‘add-on’ and more genuinely funny.

Another idea is #spontaneous speeches’ – a concept stolen from the continent where it’s not unusual for everyone to propose a toast to the newlyweds. Basically there are no formal speeches but invites encourage guests to ‘feel free to call for silence and say something (nice!) or read a verse, or just say Hooray or raise a toast’. Toasts are then proposed between the courses of the wedding meal.

This works well for boho weddings because it’s casual, cool and gets funnier as more wine is consumed.

5 – LIFT THE GIFTS

An easy one this. Take any gift-giving out of the speeches. It’s not the time, or the place.

Yes, it’s nice to give the mums flowers and the maid of honour will appreciate her bling, but encourage the couple to deliver their gifts personally rather than in front of a crowd. It’s always awkward if they include it in the speeches (both logistically and editorially) – and it gives the guests an excuse to start checking their whatsapp messages.

6 – TEQUILA TOASTS

Gone are the days when we need to toast the ‘health and happiness of the happy couple’ with a glass of Champagne. Toasts should reflect the couple getting hitched whether that’s a shot of tequila, a glug of bourbon or a sip of Indian chai. Be inventive but remind the bride not to be insulted if her nan rejects the Jack Daniels option.

7 – THE DEARLY DEPARTED

A delicate one but you’ll know if either the bride or groom has recently lost a close relative. If so, we recommend reading our Dearly Departed post.

Even when people think they’ve come to terms with the loss, a wedding is a highly emotional day so it’s worth thinking about the best ways to honour lost loved ones without the speeches turning into eulogies. Remind the couple that the speeches should remain joyful, and their loved ones need to be remembered with a smile.

It might be appropriate to suggest the couple plan a dinner in the run up to the wedding where they can pay a special tribute to them and shed a few tears in advance of the day. Couples often find it comforting to have a proper chance to honour their loved one’s absence without it taking over the actual day.

8 – SCHEDULING THE SPEECHES

Avoid the ‘speech clump’ and get clever with how you schedule the speeches. An hour of speeches is too long – even for super-fans like us!

Think about dotting the speeches throughout the day. Schedule one between each course of the wedding meal so everyone can enjoy the interjection and they don’t tire of the stand-up, sit-down palaver of three toasts in quick succession.

Another option is to schedule the ‘main act’ (whoever that may be) for the evening do. Maybe it’s the surprise bride speech, or the naughty best man – whoever it is, it’s a great way of making the b-list invitees feel part of the whole day.

9- STAGE-MANAGING THE SPEECHES 

Okay – so you’re officially in charge of the stage management.

You no doubt already know far too many speeches are ruined because people simply can’t hear them. People spend days honing their humour, only for the joke to get lost in the bad acoustics of a shiny floored hall. Obviously the solution is simple; hire a mic and test it on the morning, along with any other tech that’s going to be used. On an even more simple note, keep a back up copy of the speeches for the speakers.

And, of course, the ultimate distraction during the speeches… children. As cute as they (sometimes) are, it’s preferable if they’re not involved in the heckling of speakers. Activity packs are essential. Here’s some good ones that might raise a smile from the adults too.

10 – WORK WITH SPEECHY

For couples who realise their wedding speech is an important investment, it’s worth knowing about our bespoke writing service.

It’s a premium service where we work closely with clients to write their dream speech. As ex-BBC scriptwriters, we’ve worked with everyone from Richard Hammond, to Sharon Osbourne, David Mitchell to Mel Geidroyc and you can check out our credentials here.

Our Speechy clients have included Monte Carlo billionaires, FSTE 100 Chief Execs and government officials. We’ve worked with brides from Melbourne, gay grooms from New York and mothers of the groom from Cape Town. We love creating unique speeches that genuinely reflect the couple they’re celebrating. You can find out more about all our services on our home page. 

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