Tradition is lovely, yes. And it’s often tradition for a reason – because it works. But every so often, there’s cause to adapt a long-standing one. The wedding speech just might be this year’s candidate for review. A quick internet search on the subject will throw up a strict list of guidelines to follow, including who should make a toast to whom and which order the speeches should go in. But remember, Google is not the boss of your wedding.
MR (AND MRS) SPEAKER
Firstly, the issue of choosing who speaks, and in what order. Tradition really favours the lads here and we’ll be honest, we’re confused. Where our ladies at? If you would like a bridesmaid to speak, or if your mam would like to say a few words, or if someone who would normally speak isn’t into it… Change it up. Francesca’s wedding bucked tradition because her father wasn’t keen on public speaking. “I didn't make my dad do a speech. It would have been his idea of hell and I didn't want that,” she explains. May we also add that we’re strongly in favour of both the bride and the groom speaking – if they fancy it of course. It’s their day, and should they wish to have the floor for a few minutes that’s their right as newlyweds.
TIME, GENTLEMEN, PLEASE!
We’re also totally on board with giving guidelines to the people who are going to speak. Why is it that you’ve planned every single aspect of your day to the nth degree, but the speeches are just live and let live? Why not plan those to your specification too? Give them a time limit or veto certain subjects - no one will know, bar the speakers, and at least you’ll know what to expect. Most importantly, you’ll have a better handle on the timings of the evening. Essential, really.
Genevieve married her partner last September, and she says she organised the speeches as much as any other part of the day. “I got together with everyone who was speaking and told them all how much time they each had, and made sure they communicated so there wouldn’t be lots of overlap. It meant the staff weren’t thanked ten times, the foreign guests weren’t thanked for travelling over and over again, and everything was way less repetitive.” It probably also meant the speeches didn’t go on endlessly and eat into precious dinner time, which your venue staff will delight at.
CART BEFORE THE HORSE
Then there’s the placement of the speeches on the big day itself. Traditionally carried out after the meal, or between courses of the meal, they can cause problems for serving staff, not to mention the fact that your speakers will be full of nerves for their entire dinner. In truth, it’s really up to you where they go. Ain’t no shame in wanting to get them out of the way so everyone can get on with enjoying themselves (read: drinking).
Doug got married a few months ago and says the way they did their speeches was a big relief to their guests. “Heather and I did ours at the drinks reception, almost immediately. Smash and grab, I spoke, she spoke, Laura (bridesmaid) spoke and my brother spoke - it took like 15 minutes. It meant we could relax, but it also turned out there was a huge sense of relief from everyone! Everyone was like, ‘well the speeches are done’, it just felt different.”
When it comes to your wedding, it really is your day, your way. So if the traditional speech setup isn’t rocking your world, ditch it. And as our life gurus Fleetwood Mac would say, you can go your own way.