Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Speeches

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When it comes to the speeches section of your wedding day there’s usually a traditional order in which the proceedings will take place.

And whilst most people will tend to stick to this and your venue will be able to keep you right, there’s no hard and fast rules as to what you should do.

It’s always important to remember that regardless of whether it’s “tradition” or not, your wedding day is exactly what it says on the tin – YOUR DAY.

So, if you want to keep things right in a traditional sense, here’s what you need to know, and if you want to mix it up, we’ve put a few suggestions in there for you too:

When do they happen?

Traditionally the speeches will usually take place at the reception and after the meal has completely finished.  However, some couples have attempted to combat the dreaded speech fatigue by breaking it up a little.

Rather than have everyone wait around until after the meal some people choose to have one speech per course.  It fits in rather well with the sometimes lengthy wait between courses.  If you’re going to do this though it is absolutely essential that you make your venue aware of this.

Other couples choose to have the speeches before the meal so that those making speeches get it out of the way and can relax and enjoy their wedding feast.

Who should speak and when?

Normally it’s usually only male members of the bridal party who will speak.  The father of the bride who will be thanking guests, talking about his daughter and welcoming his new son-in-law to their family.  He usually finishes by leading a toast to the bride and groom.

Next up is the groom who, traditionally, is expected to give a heartfelt speech about his bride, their relationship and their love is enough to carry this speech.  It goes without saying that the groom should not only comment on how his bride looks but should also toast the bridesmaids.

Lastly, if we’re staying on the traditional timetable the best man will take to the mic.  One of the most dreaded speeches a man can make.  the expectations are high.  The audience are expecting to laugh – a lot.  They want to hear funny stories and tales of the groom’s youth.  The best man should finish up with a toast to the happy couple.

Increasingly more and more the bride is taking to the mic at modern weddings.  (read our post “Should Brides Make a Wedding Speech?”)  In an attempt to rid the ceremonies of the patriarchy of the past.

Whilst this is always a beautiful addition to the proceedings it’s important that when you start adding new people to the speaking list that you are mindful of the guests and their attention span.  If you’re adding more people, reduce the amount of time people will speak and maybe consider breaking it up throughout the dinner.

Sometimes the mic is opened to the floor as well….this can be a dangerous move but similarly it can be a wonderful impromptu addition to a wedding day that can release some wonderful memories.  Think about your guests and who will be most likely to respond…if you have to – plan it !

How long should they last?

Ideally you want to keep your speeches to around 5 minutes or so.  If you’re thinking of a speech length in words about 800-1000 words is a good amount and gives you lots of space in which to say everything you need to get across.

By Tina Calder, Excalibur Press