I hope all is well with everyone?!
During our crazy but wonderfully successful July of weddings, i’m sure you all saw but we did a particularly beautiful wedding at the fantastic Trinity Buoy Wharf in London. It was a long exciting day with many elements and cultural traditions,many of which were new to me, but were all befitting of the theme of the day and designed to bring two families together. This got me thinking about wedding traditions in general and more specifically the tradition of speeches. The best man at the London wedding came out with a corker of a speech, which certainly competes as a contender as one of my all time favourites! But what made it so good? What made me howl with laughter, shed a small tear and towards the end even join!? Well that is a question! Now I’m not going to go into the details of what you should write in a speech, but rather how to choose who should give a speech and broadly delve into how the tradition of speech giving can be interpreted to suit your wedding day!
In English Tradition there are three core members of the wedding party who have to give a speech…
The Father of the Bride – A speech full of cute stories of his little girl, talking about her life, her achievements, imparting words of wisdom and finishing up with a tear jerking statement on how he couldn’t wish for a better husband for his daughter; it’s all very emotional.
The Groom himself – His speech is full of light jokes, talking of his love for his ‘new wife’ (queue small cheer) and of course doing the long list of thanks (including the wedding planner! ;-)).
The best man – There’s pressure on the best man, as the expectations are high to tactfully make jokes (at the Groom’s expense!) and hopefully to the great amusement of the entire (usually diverse) wedding party, a tall order!
Most bases are generally covered with the above three and don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad format, but what about your mum? Or the bride? I think the people who really want to speak should and shouldn’t feel constrained by tradition. However that doesn’t mean you should let any Tom, Dick or Harry who wants to speak do so, the wedding day is only so long! Four should be the limit really, just don’t feel resigned to have to follow tradition, speak to those special people in your life you want to hear from on your wedding day and take it from there.
The above tradition only really covers a heterosexual arrangement, as most traditions tend to do, however with an increase in the number of men marrying other men and women marrying other women, new structures to the wedding speeches and the wedding day as a whole are being thought of. Gay grooms are asking their Mother’s to give them away, Lesbian couples are taking to the aisle together, new conventions are being sought and it’s wonderful! I would like to see Mother’s of the groom giving a speech or the Best Maid of Bridesman stepping up to the mic! This shouldn’t just be within the gay community where couples are inciting change, but with anyone getting married! Have who you want to have join in with the important parts of your wedding day, don’t feel shoehorned into a tradition if it isn’t what you truly want.
Now back from that small tangent and onto what makes for a good speech! Obviously the person you choose to make the speech is immediately going to set the tone, and as mentioned above make sure it is someone you want to make a speech. If you are looking forward to what someone is going to say from the off you are going to be in the frame of mind to enjoy it more! That doesn’t mean you should pick your most theatrical member of the family or that friend who has the perfect radio voice, sure they would give a good speech because they are good speakers, but it isn’t the person you want to hear from, so even if they have a stutter or lisp, speak a different language or even do it through charades! That’s fine, because it is the person you want to hear speak at your wedding! You can always get tools to help them… subtitles, translator, mime?
The other thing that makes for the setup of a good speech is timings, both length of each speech but also where they fall in the day. The length of speech is an easy one, roughly 5 minutes per speech is a great guide we work to! Timings of when to do the speeches are pretty flexible, we’ve done many different formats;
- One speech between each course
- A speech at the reception drinks
- The Groom’s speech before the wedding breakfast, followed by the other’s after the main
- All speeches just before desert
- Or all speeches after the meal
- One for the more extravagant is to not have any speeches on the wedding day at all, but instead to have them all at rehearsal dinner the night before, with your very nearest and dearest present
There’s no set rule here and as every wedding day is different, you will find what suits, but my suggestion… don’t have them all at once, spread them out, savour them. It will allow for a better flow of the day and if I can be so bold to say… it will stop people from getting bored!
Right, I think I have rambled on long enough! I will leave you with this though… it is your day, don’t be afraid to make the choices you want to make because of tradition, the choice is always yours!
Love Bertie x