The Wedding Breakfast Speeches
Traditionally the wedding speeches take place after the wedding breakfast, but these days, owing to the nervousness of the speakers, some prefer to get them out of the way before the meal is served. If this is your choice, the timing of the serving of the meal has to be taken into consideration. If the speeches are too long the meal may be spoiled.
These notes are a guideline for those who have never given a speech before. There are many books and internet guides that will also assist you but it is good to plan what you are going to say in the following way:
1 The introduction is generally the easy part. Why? Because in most cases you are normally thanking people. This is a pleasant and easy way to start e.g. “Thank you for coming today”
2 The main points are when you use all the information you have gathered. Remember to use your best anecdote or story until last before you close.
3 The conclusion must be the conclusion. Do not go ‘on and on’ and bore everyone. If you say “and finally” mean it!
Your speech should only last for the maximum of 10 minutes – short and punchy – not long and boring. You can say quite a lot in ten minutes. Remember there are at least two others to speak as well. That means 30 minutes of speeches, which is quite long enough. Your guests (especially children) may become restless if the speeches go on for longer. If the speeches are made before the meal they will also be hungry!
The Father of the Bride (or whoever is giving the Bride away) traditionally starts the speeches. He will thank friends and family for coming, especially those who have traveled a long way. He should also thank the other parents for their help and welcome his new son in law into his family. He may talk of how the happy couple met, and the first time she introduced him to his future ‘in laws’. Next he should concentrate on his daughter – the Bride. This can be emotional but it is nice to reflect on her growing up, into the lovely daughter she is today. His speech ends by asking everyone to stand and join him in toasting ‘The Bride and Bridegroom’ – he may use their names.
The Bridegroom will thank his new ‘Dad’ for the welcome and the nice words. He will thank both sets of parents for their love and help in making everything possible. He should also thank everyone and show appreciation that they have taken the time to come and celebrate the day with them both. At the first opportunity he will say “on behalf of my wife and I” as this always gets a round of applause and cheering. He will then talk about his beautiful Bride before giving out flowers and gifts. He will end his speech by paying compliments to the bridesmaids and asking everyone to stand, for the ‘Toast to the Bridesmaids’.
The Best Man will thank the Bridegroom on behalf of the Bridesmaids. He should talk about the honour of being Best Man and speak about the Bridegroom and their friendship. He will then relate stories to generally embarrass and send him up. Nothing contentious and he should not mention former girl friends. He may also read cards of congratulation, but only from those who are unable to be there. Although not a tradition, he may end his speech by raising another toast to the Bride and Bridegroom.
Other guests may also wish to contribute, even the Bride! It may also be appropriate, and appreciated, for a toast to be raised to absent friends or a very close relative of the Bride or Bridegroom who may perhaps have recently passed away. This can be done by whoever is deemed most appropriate.
Finally, everyone will be embarrassed by an obviously intoxicated speaker. A little drink may calm the nerves but the Golden Rule is generally very little or preferably no alcohol before speaking.
Here are some fuller helpful guidelines:
Making a speech at a wedding is probably one of the biggest worries for many men – whether they are the best-man, father of the bride or even the groom himself! These days we get many brides and mums wanting to say a few words too so these guidelines may be a help to them as well.
- PLAN IT WELL IN ADVANCE
Do not even consider writing the speech the night before the wedding or leaving it to an hour before you are due to speak! Even if you are great at public speaking, chances are your nerves & emotions will get the better of you and you forget all you want to say and will end up blabbing…. More about blabbing in tip #3…
- GET CREATIVE
Decide if you want a traditional speech or if you would prefer something a bit more unusual and wacky. You know the couple well so if you think they will ‘get it’ – go for it. Sing, do a slideshow, write a poem or something else. Everyone will appreciate your creativity and efforts!
- STRUCTURE IT & DON’T BLAB
Structure your speech – don’t go on rambling on for ages – people will get bored and distracted. It is better to keep it short, sweet and to the point. A maximum of 10 minutes should be sufficient time for your wedding speech.
Be sure to state the obvious – reiterate how the day is about the couple and pick some personal points as to why they are so perfect for one another. Stay away from the common clichés. Instead, find out how the couple complement each other in different ways and what makes THEIR relationship so unique.
- SAY YOUR THANK YOU’S
It is always nice for people to be appreciated for their effort and involvement in a wedding. Compliment and thank the wedding party, the guests and the parents. It is always nice to thank the Bride & Groom for putting on a lovely wedding too. I also think it is a lovely idea to mention loved ones that are no longer with us (best to check with the couple before the wedding so not to upset them) or special people who were not able to make it to the wedding. You can raise a toast to ‘absent friends’.
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
When writing your speech, consider the audience – will there be any children and elderly people in the room? Ensure that your speech is appropriate for everyone in the room – there is nothing worse than an offensive or out of place comment followed by the silence in the room (tumbleweed moment…) instead of the applause and laughter. Instead, keep the naughty details of the stag do and wild nights partying to a minimum and no swearing please!
- DON’T GOOGLE IT!
You can use Google for inspiration and ideas but please, don’t just copy and paste someone else’s speech – personalize it. Do put some thought into what you have to say – you have been trusted with a very important role on someone’s wedding day, so it is only fitting that you put some effort in to making it as personal and as touching as possible.
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Don’t try and wing it – it rarely ever works. While it may seem like a great idea to say whatever pops to your head on the spur of the moment, in reality, you will end up trailing off and jumping from one point to another. You may even say something REALLY inappropriate. It could happen to the best of us! To avoid this – PRACTICE. Type up your speech, edit and print it, then read it out loud to yourself or a good friend as often as you can. It will help you to get more comfortable with speaking out loud and remember the flow of the speech. Don’t try to memorise it all though. Instead, make some cue cards to get you started and help you stay on track if the nerves will get the best of you.
- ASK FOR FEEDBACK
Ask your partner or a good friend whose opinion you trust for a feedback. Read the speech out loud in front of them and check their reaction. If you get no response – ask what could have been said differently and what should be avoided. Edit the speech and try again.
- DON’T OVER THINK IT
Do ask for feedback, but don’t over think it too much. It is easily done so don’t be conscious of or try to please everyone. Stay true to yourself and your style instead of trying to make it perfect and too polished. Do use feedback to tidy it up, but don’t feel you need to change the whole thing! You have written it with the couple at heart. It can’t get much better than that!
- SAVE THOSE FEW PINTS FOR AFTER THE SPEECH
Think again before you have that shot of tequila or another pint before your speech. While you may be tempted to calm the nerves – stay away from alcohol especially if the speeches are before the official meal. Drinking on an empty stomach, the excitement and the pressure is not the best combination. No one wants to hear slurring best-man blabbing about that night out 3 years ago (it normally seems like a good idea to add few extra bits after a few pints, but you will regret it when watching it back on the wedding video!!)
- ALWAYS CHECK PEOPLE CAN HEAR YOU
Pretty self-explanatory really – make sure everyone is ready and they can hear you well before you start. Guests who can’t hear you will get bored and could end up whispering which can get a little frustrating and distracting.
- TOAST THE COUPLE
It is customary to toast the newlyweds at the end of your speech and let’s admit – you will be looking forward to that drink. Before you start your speech make sure everyone’s drinks are toped up and toast-ready. Be sure to make a nice toast wishing the couple a happy future.
- AND …..RELAX
This is probably the most important thing when giving a speech. Relax and enjoy it! Use the opportunity to share some great stories about the couple and wish them all the best in their married life together. It may be only chance you get to give your sincere best wishes before the party begins, so just take a few deep breaths, relax and enjoy!
If you would like any advice or would like me to cast my eye over your speech then please contact me.