The venue, your overdraft limit, who’s going to sit next to Dave; let’s face it, there’s plenty to think about when you’re planning a wedding. But here’s something I reckon you need to think about more… the speeches.
Over the last couple of decades wedding speeches have become something to be endured rather than enjoyed. They’re generally assigned as a ‘boy’s job’, relegated to being a must-do chore, where clichés and platitudes are not only accepted, but actively encouraged.
As a wedding speech writer I’m not buying that. Yeah I’ve got shed-loads of bias, but I reckon guests who’ve spent an average of £498 attending a wedding (so says the Cosmo stats), deserve more. Your friends and family want rock n’ roll speeches with a bit more attitude than the usual speech-fodder.
A wedding can be quite formulaic (unless you’re the couple getting hitched and then, of course, it’s completely unique and generally amaaazinng). Speeches add that essential dose of personality and humour that all great occasions need to make them awesome.
So here’s a few ideas to ensure your speeches really say something at your wedding.
If you want to go down the traditional father, groom, best man route, that’s fine but I’d encourage you to at least question it.
Guests love it when the women get involved (even in 2018 it still feels unusual) so try to ensure at least one girl grabs that mic, even if it’s your nan giving her Top Ten Tips for a Happy Marriage (in fact, that sounds like a great idea!).
Brides shouldn’t feel pressure to do anything they just don’t fancy on their wedding day, but after giving my own bride’s speech, I can highly recommend it. I wanted to thank all my favourite people for coming to the wedding rather than letting ‘my representative’. I also wanted to say how fit my fella looked in his suit and I enjoyed making everyone laugh.
Of course, don’t just consider the female ‘equivalents’ of the male speakers– think inventively. Young children always have comedic things to say about love and it’s great if you happen to have an elderly relative to add some suitably cynical advice. Contributions needn’t be long, in fact better if they’re not. Quirky and cute is what we’re after.
Your speech will stand out if it doesn’t sound like a speech. Don’t get tied down by all the usual ‘to dos’ and make sure it doesn’t become a roll call of thank yous. Instead, tell a story.
Get creative. If you’re planning a festival style wedding then maybe chronicle your relationship through your shared love of music and the debates you’ve had over the vinyl collection. If you’re both bookworms compare yourselves to your favourite literary characters and their qualities; Holden Caulfield’s innocence, Patrick Bateman’s humour?!
Consider this your very own TED-talk. Make it exciting and make it interesting.
Something different to consider; a joint Mr & Mrs Speech. Delivering a speech together shows you’re an equal partnership; one that can quickly establish a comedy double act and get guests laughing. It’s also a lot of fun.
Admittedly the politics of speeches can get a bit tiresome. Dad versus step dad, best woman versus best man, your funny mate versus your old friend from school. One way to avoid this is to have ‘spontaneous speeches’. The idea is 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’ throughout the wedding meal (usually between courses). This totally works for boho weddings because it’s casual, cool and generally gets more fun the more wine has been consumed.
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 you as a couple whether that’s a shot of tequila, a glug of bourbon or a sip of Indian chai. Be inventive but equally don’t be insulted in Nan rejects the Jack Daniels option.
Also forget the tired clichés and make sure you toast something that’s meaningful to you. Perhaps ‘decades of dancing on tables and inspiring each other’s tattoos’.
Avoid the ‘speech clump’ and get clever about how you schedule your speeches. 45 minutes of speeches can leave even your mates checking their newsfeeds under the table.
Think about dotting the speeches about. 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.
So many people ruin their speech by getting too worried about it or delivering it like a business presentation. Powerpoint is a no-no. Props like ‘Speech Bingo’ should be used with caution. Smiling, messing up your lines & laughing are all big yeses.
Don’t feel restricted by tradition or what you’ve seen at weddings before. Making your speech entertaining is not about doing a comedy rap or attempting to go ‘viral’ with it. Think about what works for you, your partner and your wedding guests and you’re more likely to create an awesome moment.