Wedding Speeches: Who says what? …and some of our tips.
Wedding speeches are definitely a part of a wedding that everyone really looks forward to!
Good speeches, done well, can really stand out as a part of the day’s events, that will be remembered forever more and poorly executed/organised speeches can just as easily be remembered…but for all the wrong reasons.
*TIP – Word of Caution – Time!
Obviously everyone’s situations will be different - your parents may not still be with us, they may be separated, you may be having a same sex wedding - in which case the roles may differ slightly, so just swap about and tell each person who they are to toast.
By the time the speeches are due, your guests might have been on their feet for a couple of hours and will likely be starving, having not had lunch or even a light snack, since before the ceremony and if it’s a typical Scottish Wedding, a number of guests will already be drinking on an empty stomach by this point!
It’s worth bearing this in mind if you are deciding to have more than the traditional 3 speakers, as each speech could easily go on for 10 minutes, totally half an hour. Unless you have really good performers speaking, this could make the speeches repetitive and boring – even more so with a hungry and impatient crowd. Aim for 5-7 minutes per speech.
If you are due to speak and are not comfortable talking to a big crowd – this can be a really intimidating and stressful time for you but its important to remember that if you are at least talking from the heart, everyone should have a smile on their face afterwards.
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Here at My Scotland Wedding, we definitely think it is best for the speeches to happen before the Meal, as there will at least 3 people who might not be able to enjoy their food, if they are worrying about performing their speech afterwards.
It also means that after the meal, everyone can just unwind and relax, with drinks and dancing into the night, to conclude the days festivities.
Traditionally, there will be 3 speeches at a wedding but in this day and age, its entirely up to you, the couple - who you want to say a few words at your wedding.
Nowadays, the Mother of the Bride (as an alternative to or in the absence of the Father), the Chief Bridesmaid and even the Bride herself can do a speech, in addition to the traditional roles, dependant on your circumstances.
For the sake of this blog, we’ll stick with the 3 traditional speakers (but simply substitute or add the different roles, if you are planning to do it differently at your wedding)…
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1st Up – The Father-of-the-bride
The Father of the bride usually has the least pressure on him out of all the speeches. The pressure sits with the Best Man and Groom.
The Parents-of-the-Bride are traditionally seen as the hosts of the wedding and as such, the Father-of-the-Bride is therefore best placed to welcome all the guests to the wedding as part of his speech, (although the Groom will usually repeat this out of politeness). A few relevant jokes to warm the crowd up goes a long way here.
This can then be followed by welcoming the new son-in-law to the family, followed by any words of thanks, to the parents-of-the-Groom, for any help they provided in the lead up to the wedding.
All that would then be expected from the Father-of-the-bride is to tell a short story or two about his daughter - the star of the day - the Bride and any make public threats to his new Son-in-law to ensure he looks after her.
These can be funny anecdotes that lead to a point or just some heartfelt words about what she means to him and her mother and how proud they are of her (entirely up to the dad what he chooses to say). Normally this would be rounded off, by wishing the newlyweds, a happy life together.
Sometimes it will be the responsibility of the Best Man, but the Father-of-the-bride could read out any cards received from anyone invited but unable to attend.
This would be a good time to conclude the Father of the Bride Speech and raise a glass to toast "To absent friends."
At this point he would either pass the microphone on to the toastmaster or he would introduce the Groom himself and pass on the mic, for the Grooms speech.
2nd In The Firing Line - The Groom
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As mentioned above, there is usually little expectation on the Father-of-the-brides speech, as the topics of the speech are fairly well defined, but the pressure starts to mount when the spotlight is passed on to the Groom - as the expectation for humour typically ramps up significantly.
TIP* Try not to crack under the pressure: rehearse your speech regularly, speak clearly and at a natural pace. Ideally you won’t have your head down reading the speech word for word in a monotone manner. Try to make eye contact with your guests and anyone you are talking about, as often as possible.
The best way to start, is to positively remark on or thank your new Father-in-Law for his speech and if you want real browny points, also thank them for the job they did raising their daughter but then you "MUST" state clearly the 7 mandatory words…”On behalf of my wife and I…” (how many of you actually counted that was in fact 7 words?) and wait for the rapturous applause to end before continuing and you are off to a good start!
Then you are on to the “Thank You's” portion of the speech.
I personally, would expand on the Father-of-the-Brides welcoming of the guests, by thanking all for attending and particularly those who had to travel some distance to be there to share your big day with you and how happy you and your new spouse are that everyone there could attend.
I would then thank the Bridesmaids for helping your new Wife through the Wedding Planning process, remark on how beautiful they all look and raise your first toast - “to the Bridesmaids!”.
*Note - Your wife may at this point have gifts to present to them but may have done this in private, so just discuss in advance.
The groom should then thank both sets of parents for their support and if you have any - tell a funny story or 2 involving the parents at this point. (we’d expect both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom to be presented with flowers at this point, in line with modern tradition).
It’s polite to conclude the “Thank You” portion of your speech by thanking and presenting gifts (if you choose to) to any other members of the wedding party who have helped out (for example, the Ushers), before moving on to the main portion of the speech.
With the ‘Thank You’ portion of the speech out of the way, its time to turn all your attention onto your beautiful new Wife. Your first remark "MUST" involve how beautiful she looks today and that everyone in the room must surely agree. It's then over to you to be romantic and funny at the same time with your ensuing stories, involving your Wife.
*Note – There are so many different routes you can then go down for this portion of your speech. Tell humorous anecdotes about how you met and points of your relationship that maybe not all if any of your guests know about.
If you’re taking some funny ideas from the internet – tailor and personalise them to suit your relationship, don’t just repeat what everyone might have heard at other weddings.
Finish off your story or anecdotes with how you are looking forward to spending the rest of your lives together, in whatever way you wish to word it and its then time to pass over to your Best Man.
If you know he’s about to ridicule you and give you a hard time, now is your final chance to have a quick dig at him before he does his best to ridicule you in public or just be the better man and simply accept your fate – he’s your best man after all!
Introduce him to the rest of your guests and thank him for all his help and support in the lead up to the wedding and if he organised your stag do, thank him for the great time had. Tell him you have a gift for him but will wait to see what he says about you before deciding if he’s going to get it!
Last, but definitely not least - The Best Man!
The poor Best Man has hopefully been sat there, listening to 2 great speeches and now has to either live up to the expectation of delivering an even funnier speech, to ensure 3 out of 3 successful speeches or he’s had 1 or 2 not-so-great speeches before him and now needs to lift the dull atmosphere in the room - no pressure then!
The Best Man can start off his speech by thanking the Groom for his words and say thanks on behalf of any members of the wedding party, who received gifts from the Bride and Groom.
It’s essentially then up to the Best Man to “get stuck in” to the Groom and do his best to publicly (but tastefully) embarrass him in front of his friends and family.
Photo by - Lorna Thorburn Photography - https://www.myscotlandwedding.co.uk/item/5/myscotlandwedding/Lorna-Thorburn-Photography.html
A good example of this would be the Best Mans speech at my own wedding:
I worked away a lot in our earlier days as a couple and my Best Man brought out from under the table, an empty glass bowl at the start of his speech and placed it in front of him. He went on to say that “it would be tough for any couple when one of the two is working away so much, but I think now that they are officially married, that all the gents in the room who “helped look after” Emma, whilst Roddy was away working, return their copy of the house key to Emma”, insinuating that Emma had been seeking gratification from many others, in my absence.
He had been around all the guys in the room just before the speeches and handed everyone a blank key. When one person came up and dropped a key in, the first round of laughs were funny, but then as more and more came up (including my own dad!) to “return their key”, people were in hysterics!
It was a simple idea and with many variations of this that you might find online, he tailored the story to be relevant to us and involved so many people, that it made it everyone laugh.
A bad example of this also came from the Best Man's speech at my own wedding!
Our families are predominantly Catholic and we had a big wedding, with over 120 guests for the meal alone. My Best Man made a joke at one point of his speech about priests and what they do with young boys…while it might have seemed funny on paper, there were actually a few gasps and a lot of disapproving faces to the joke and the silence of the room was eventually broken by a loud individual laugh from a very, let’s say non-Catholic friend. “Moving quickly on” was the next line…
*POINTS TO CONSIDER
Think about the audience:
If there are going to be kids there, you should try and find a way of keeping your wording appropriate but just as funny!
If there are going to be a lot of elderly present – trynot to upset their values or religious beliefs - But at the same time, you can’t please everyone!
Finish off with some nice words on how great the couple are and that you and everyone in the room wishes them the best for their future together and raise a final toast of the evening - "To the happy couple, Mr and Mrs..."
If you use the above as a guide, and tailor to suit your own circumstances, the speeches should be remembered for all the right reasons!
Photo by - Richard Campbell Photography - https://www.myscotlandwedding.co.uk/item/34/myscotlandwedding/Richard-Campbell-Photography.html
We do hope the above gave you some idea of what to expect, with a traditional line-up for the speeches.
Remember though, that you are entitled to have whoever you want stand up and talk at your wedding, but do try and keep the speeches around 5-7 minutes long - as people will usually be hungry and starting to get impatient by this point.
If you are considering having more than 3 speakers, make sure they all speak to each other, well in advance to avoid repetition, or someone spoiling another’s speech by telling a story that they intended to tell.
This is especially the case if the Bride has her Bridesmaid doing a speech.
Good Luck and Try to Enjoy!