Have you ever been to a wedding before, and found yourself either clock watching or daydreaming during the speeches? Speeches play a very important part in the formalities of your wedding day and it’s definitely a part in the evening that everyone looks forward to. A bad speech is not only one that your guests will just need to endure, but a bad speaker in the very worst situation will:
(a) Make your guests hungry. If your meal service occurs after speeches (and it often does), your floor manager will need to put a 10-20 minute kitchen call into chef to prepare the next course. If your speakers continue to talk over their allotted time – this may mean that food is sitting in the kitchen going cold waiting for your speakers to wrap.
(b) Make your guests thirsty. A champagne toast without champagne (because the guests needed to drink it to get through the 15 minute spiel about the groom’s wild high school days) misses the point.
(c) Make your guests restless. And worst case scenario, this will result in guests talking between themselves, or even leaving the room.
Great speeches can leave your guests talking for the next few weeks, and unfortunately bad ones will do the same. If you want to ensure your speakers don’t send your guests to sleep, then:
Try to have no more than 3 speakers.
This is definitely a case of less is more, and if this means that 3, maybe at a push 4 people speak then this will definitely work to your advantage. No matter how well rehearsed or how “short” you think they will be, they usually take longer than they should. Of course this depends on the sobriety of the speaker and how experienced they are. As a guideline, ask your speakers to stick to a 5 minutes limit.
Make sure the speakers are relevant.
Limit your speakers to the essentials. A representative of the bride, one for the groom (both usually their parents), the best man, and the groom. Avoid having more than one bridesmaid or one groomsman speaking. It’s superfluous, especially if they are all saying the same thing. If the bride wishes to speak, it’s a wonderful touch for her to join her groom at the end of his speech (and have the last say!)
Content is king.
Remember who the audience is! Your uncles and aunties really won’t appreciate a bridesmaid reminiscing about clubbing days, or o-week at university. On the same note, your guests will be lost if the father of the bride spends five minutes reciting his daughter academic achievements and successes in her professional career. The speeches should tell a story about the bride and the groom independently, but make no mistake – this isn’t a 21st! It’s a wedding, so the emphasis should really be talking about the pair as a couple and welcoming each others family.
The video montage.
It’s becoming popular now for couples to show a video montage during the speeches to their guests. Photos of the couple are a wonderful way to share the love story and journey with other not so close friends and relatives. But keep the montage well balanced. Photos just of “him” or “her” may just miss the point and seem egocentric.
We sit through a lot of speeches, and many photographers and videographers would agree that there is an art to keeping your guests engaged with what’s going on. While no one expects your speakers to be ultimate professionals on delivery (and this often makes it even more endearing to listen to), avoiding the basic no no’s is a great start to keeping your guests interest.
Be realistic about the time you allot each speaker, and if you’re not sure ask your wedding planner. Nothing throws a run sheet out more than a wedding speech. If you have too many speakers than you have time for, then consider having them speak at your other formal events (which may even work out to be more appropriate) for example: the bridal shower, engagement or post reception brunch. The key to making an unforgettable speech (and something that your guests are going to talk about on the way home), is to speak from the heart, to be sincere and to keep it to the point. When you look back on your wedding video, you will thank your speakers for it.