Couples I talk to often seem anxious when it comes to speeches. It’s as if they feel they are an imposed burden that could spoil their wedding day.
They say things like:
“I’m not a good public speaker”
“Dad is worried about making a speech”
“Must we have speeches?”
“Can we do them before the meal to get them over with?”
“Do we have to do them if we only have a small group of guests?”
It’s natural that people are anxious and nervous at the idea of making a ‘speech’; everyone is, so let me first of all put ‘wedding speeches’ into context.
A wedding is a celebration that your family members and guests have come along to share with you. Many of them will have given gifts. Someone will be paying for the food and drink (and entertainment) – often shelling out a large sum of money.
In my eBook ‘Wedding Speeches for the Nervous’ (you can see it at www.wfauthor.com), I recommend that you banish the word ‘speech’ from your thinking; a ‘speech’ conjures up the need for slick professionalism and humour and we picture famous presenters and actors far more talented than we ever can be.
Now pause for a moment and think how you behave if someone comes to dinner at your house bearing presents. You would welcome them, thank them for coming and thank them for the gifts they brought.
A wedding ‘speech’ is no different. You are welcoming people and thanking them for coming – possibly highlighting people who have come a long way. You are thanking them for their gifts and good wishes. Every speechmaker will say nice things about the couple and their families. People will propose toasts, and so on.
I tell the potentially nervous wedding speakers that they are not making a ‘speech’ as such; they are ‘welcoming guests’, ‘saying thanks’ and ‘proposing a toast’. In my aforementioned book, I give templates for each wedding ’speech’.
It is your choice as to how many speakers you have; each one should have a purpose and finish with a relevant toast.
At a same sex wedding, you could have a parent or representative from each family as well as the two people being wed.
I steer people away from the ‘let’s do them first and get them out of the way’ approach. Your guests will be hungry so I advise that ‘speeches’ come after people have had the chance to eat something.
I also advise that speeches are done in a single session – i.e., not split between courses. Splitting the speeches breaks momentum and loses impetus. The ideal spot, in my opinion, is after the main course has been cleared. You could have them after dessert but this is also a natural point where people tend to drift off.
But it’s your choice.
Make sure your Master of Ceremonies knows your plan so he / she can get everyone ready. If you haven’t hired a toastmaster or MC, appoint someone to take on these responsibilities.
How long should a speech be? My quick answer is ‘shorter than most of them tend to be’, but that’s another topic.
My eBook ‘Wedding Speeches for the Nervous’ (you can see it at www.wfauthor.com), gives examples and formats you can follow.
I’ll end this with a toast, “here’s to you making a memorable speech and enjoying doing so. Cheers!”