Pasties & Petticoats blog 5
At most weddings, there is the ceremony, then a party with food, and probably some dancing, and somewhere along the line, there are speeches made by those closest to the happy couple, to celebrate who they are, and the married life they’ve just begun. In many weddings this takes place after the dessert course of the meal, although in some cases it’s before dessert – but check with your caterers what works best for them with the food you’ve chosen.
The traditional order for speeches, and the content of them, is as follows:
- Father of the Bride
- thanks the guests for coming, and those involved in organising & paying for the day
- stories about the Bride
- welcomes the Groom into the family
- final toast to ‘the Bride and Groom’.
- Thanks the Father of the Bride on behalf of himself and his wife (big cheers all round to the mention of ‘wife’)
- Thanks guests for coming, Bride’s parents for hosting, his parents for raising him, and the best man for his support
- Thanks to anyone else who has been involved in planning or helping
- Presents flowers to his & the Bride’s mothers
- Few words about his lovely new wife
- Final toast to ‘the bridesmaids’.
This next one is the bit people look forward to, so there’s a certain amount of pressure to make it good – more on that in a minute – but try not to upstage the Bride and Groom on their day!
- Best Man
- Accepting thanks on behalf of the bridesmaids, for the Groom’s toast
- Reading out messages from people who couldn’t make it
- Stories about the Groom (again, more on that later)
- Stories about the couple and how they met, their relationship, etc
- Final toast to ‘Mr and Mrs [newly weds’ surname]’.
- Then announce cutting of the cake, if that’s the next thing.
All of this can be altered if you’ve being given away by someone other than your father, or your mother isn’t present, or your Best Man is your ten-year-old son, your Maid of Honour is going to make a speech, or any other variation.
One of the most memorable speeches I’ve heard was the Mother of the Bride, instead of the Father, who had sadly died a few years previously. She began, ‘I would say unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, but that’s clearly not the case, as I’ve been a university lecturer for many years…’, and delivered a very moving speech, remembering those who were no longer present, as well as honouring her daughter.
The key thing with the speeches is to choose people who are confident, and happy to carry out this role. There might be someone whom your Groom wants to be his Best Man, because of the role he has played in his life, but who is clearly terrified of the speech part. Could he choose two Best Men, and divide duties? It’s probably not wise to ask someone to give a speech who is likely to have over-indulged in Dutch courage, shall we say, or else worried themselves into a stupor before the event. That said, there are countless Best Men who have risen nobly to the occasion and surprised their nearest and dearest with their moving speeches, so you never know!
Watch what is being said
Remember that grandparents as well as college buddies will be present, so don’t make the jokes too smutty, or embarrassing. Referring to exes is generally considered poor taste as well! Make sure appropriate drinks are available for the toasts before you start, and offer something other than champagne for those under age, or otherwise not wishing to drink alcohol.
Get someone to check speeches before they’re delivered. I was at a wedding where the Father of the Bride had been very protective of his speech, not allowing anyone else to see it beforehand. He was quite an upright gentleman, and not given to smuttiness, at all. However, in his speech he made a reference which was undoubtedly risqué, without realising at all what he was saying. He brought the house down, utterly embarrassed the Bride, and, I suspect, has no idea to this day quite why he received such a guffaw of laughter as he closed his speech.
Anyway, to close, the idea of the reception speeches is to honour all those who have put time and effort into making the day what it is, and give some words to all the love in the room for the Bride and Groom. Not to embarrass them to death, honestly!!
Some of my hints and tips, and the order and content of the speeches, have been borrowed from the posh folks at Debretts. Their guide to weddings has since been hidden behind a pay wall, which is unfortunate. You can either pay, or take my word for it about how helpful it was! Other sources of information are of course available.
Weddings blog – complete series:
- invitations again – making vs printing
- the rest of your ceremony, music, readings, etc
- speeches – content, running order, and who should give them.
- how to give a great wedding speech
Condensed version: ‘top 10 tips for words to get right at your wedding‘, for the Pasties and Petticoats newsletter.