Wedding Speeches

When should the great wedding speech be delivered…?

How weddings have changed over the decades! From a handful to 400-500 invited guests; one-two to six-eight bridal party members; a simple wedding car to expensive and large wedding cars; three course meals to six course meals; one to three live bands; simple attire to colorful and flamboyant dresses, suits and attire and off-the-cuff to well-prepared wedding speeches.

Speaking of the latter, wedding speeches are still an important part of a wedding and guests do look forward to hearing them, talking about them before, during and indeed after they’ve been delivered.

We have all heard of wedding speeches delivered before the meal, during the meal and after the meal, however it is of a strong opinion that the wedding speeches should be delivered after the meal. I know that for many bridal party speakers i.e. Father of the Bride Speech, Father of the Groom Speech, Bride Speech, Groom Speech and Bestman Speech (the five main speakers), they would prefer to have the wedding speeches before the meal, so they can enjoy their meal (some of them are paying for it!). However, it is all about the invited guests and how most of them (and indeed the wedding venue staff) would prefer the wedding speeches to be delivered after the meal for many reasons, some of which include:

  • The invited guests have been fed and watered and are not listening to wedding speeches on an empty stomach (at least of food, which would be the case before the meal, though weddings today do provide light snacks upon arrival at the wedding venue)
  • Food can be cooked and served at the agreed time (introduce the wedding speeches before the meal and their could be a delay of 15 minutes to 1.5 hours, driving the kitchen staff crazy trying to keep food freshly cooked, presentable and edible)
  • The wedding speeches act as the transition from the meal to the dancing (with nothing happening after the meal, people are expecting ‘a few words’ to be shared about the Bride & Groom after which they know they can get up, move around, take a break, go for a walk, go to the bar…)

It can be difficult for parents of the Bride & Groom to speak in public, as most of them would not be used of it. So, they could, if they so wished, speak before the / their meal.

There should still be some form of formal wedding speech(es) after the meal…

I want to speak…!

I attended a wedding recently where a great Irish guy married and an equally as great Australian lady married. Two great families too, with most of the Australian contingent experiencing their first visit to Ireland and therefore their first Irish wedding. The wedding followed the traditional route when it came to the speeches, but there was more speakers than normal, nine in fact. There was the Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom, Brother of the Bride, Groom, Best friend of the Bride and four Bestmen (a brother of the Groom, a work colleague of the Groom, a college friend of the Groom and a best friend of the Groom).

When all of them had spoken, the main Bestman asked us (the audience) was there anyone else who wanted to contribute to the speeches and say anything about the Bride and Groom? Not a done thing in Ireland, but may be in Australia (I have never experienced a wedding there). Thankfully, no one volunteered! The speeches by my watch lasted one hour and 25 minutes. They were delivered after the meal, so no one was hungry or thirsty during their delivery. Overall, each speech had it is uniqueness and individuality, which made them all different in their own way and in fact enjoyable. Each speech had an average delivery time of 8-10 minutes (including the applause).

Why am I sharing this story with you? I guess, it is to give you some food for thought when it comes to a wedding that you are personally involved in i.e. getting married or family of the Bride and / or Groom. The above speeches were obviously planned as everyone had prepared scripts, PP slides and notes. But, really too many people spoke. We are told by wedding managers / coordinators that two people should speak at a wedding; the Father of the Bride and the Groom.

Who should speak at your wedding and why?

Should I Use My Native Language in My Wedding Speech??

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Most Irish wedding speeches are delivered in the English language as most of the audience expect it to be and most of them anyway will probably speak or understand it.
For people who are fluent Irish speakers, it would be suggested that you do deliver part of your speech in Irish. This can be done at the start of the speech, at the end of the speech or throughout the speech. It is important that what you say is said in English too either word for word or in a different way, as your guests can feel left out if they do not understand what you are saying / have said.

For people not born in Ireland and who are getting married in Ireland where English is not their first language, it is expected that most of the speech could be delivered in their native tongue, though not all of it. One would have to make an attempt at delivering part of the speech or saying a few words in the English language.

If you are wondering what to say in the Irish language or in your native tongue, consider wedding blessings, wedding poems and opening and closing your speech in Irish.

Your wedding guests always appreciate people speaking in their native tongue, once they know what they are saying or that it is translated for them.

Finally, if some of your main wedding party and guests are from a particular part of the world, welcoming them in their native language or saying a few words during your speech would make them feel really at home.

Whatever language(s) you use during your wedding speech, cover everything that your specific speech is supposed to cover, prepare well, practice, look forward to it and don’t forget to smile!

Before, During or After…

cheers

When should we give the speeches at our wedding, before, during or after the meal? Let’s investigate the best option!

Before the meal

Advantages:

  • All speakers can enjoy the meal
  • The speeches will be over and done with
  • They maybe shorter than normal
  • The Bestman will be have their speech out of the way
  • The Bride and the Mother of the Bride worries will be over
Disadvantages:

  • The management of the hotel may have to pay staff, waitresses and waiters more money
  • The Chef and his kitchen staff will be under pressure to manage the food quality as they will not know the duration of the speeches
  • Wedding guests will be hungry and may not give the speeches the attention they deserve with empty stomachs
  • What will the guests do to allow their meal digest?
  • What ‘transitions’ from the meal to the post-reception celebrations?

During the meal

Advantages:

  • Can deliver one to two speeches between each meal course
  • Wedding guests will give more attention to the speeches as they will have been served food
  • Will add variety to the meal
  • As waitresses and waiters clear the table and guests are waiting for their next course to be served, a speech or two could be delivered
  • Some speakers will have their speech completed and can enjoy the rest of their meal
Disadvantages:

  • The management of the hotel may have to pay staff, waitresses and waiters more money
  • The Chef and his kitchen staff will be under pressure to manage the food quality as they will not know the duration of each speech between meal courses
  • Will make for a longer meal duration
  • Speakers may not enjoy the complete meal as they wait to be called to speak
  • Guests may not be able to hear the speeches clearly as waitresses and waiters clear tables after each course and serve the next course

After the meal

Advantages:

  • It is the norm that any speeches that need to be delivered are delivered after a meal at any celebratory event
  • Wedding guests will be fully attentive to the speeches as they will have had their full meal
  • The hotel can better management their staff as when the meal has been completely served, most of the waitresses waiters can finish
  • The Chef and their staff can better manage the food as they will have a more accurate time when to serve the food and can plan accordingly
  • Better quality could possibly be delivered
Disadvantages:

  • Speakers may not have enjoyed the meal as much as they should have in the knowledge that they have yet to deliver their speech
  • Nerves for the speakers have more time to develop
  • Wedding guests may want to leave immediately after the meal, but can’t as the speeches are an important part of the wedding occasion
  • Too many speeches at the one time if they are long speeches could become difficult to listen to
  • Wedding may be anxious to get to the bar...!

Best option, probably After!

Whenever you decide to deliver your wedding speeches, prepare and deliver them well...it is a once-off, it will never happen again.

Don’t leave it to the last minute…

Don't leave it to the last minute! Don't leave what to the last minute, I hear you ask? The speech of course! I'm sure your partner, family, friends even yourself are asking, 'Have you the speech done, what are you going to say, make sure and cover everything, leave no one or anything out and don't embarrass anyone'! As the date gets closer, you are probably getting a bit more agitated. You're human, so you should be, if you didn't, it might show that you don't care and have not much interest or respect of who you are speaking of and speaking to. Read more