Wedding Readings & Speeches.
I have photographed hundreds of weddings and in that time I have heard many wedding readings and speeches. Some very good, some very bad and some just ugly. I will break them down a little and hope that if you have been asked to give a reading or speech at a friends or family members wedding this will help.
I’ll have some suggestions on ‘Do’s and Don’t’ at the end.
Wedding readings are generally those given by close friends or family during the wedding ceremony. There are the ever popular classics I hear all the time like. Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things”. or one of the many variations out there. It’s funny but it always makes me think of the 90’s film ‘Hackers’ and Matthew Lillard getting kicked out of “not woodshop’.
‘The Lovely Other Dinosaur’ by Edward Monkton and ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss are others that always make me smile. I have heard these many times but always enjoy them. Other Wedding readings are personal to peoples experiences with the couple. These are always heartfelt and often have somebody shedding a tear. Generally, these reading are pretty safe if sometimes a little emotional.
The standard format for wedding speeches is the father of the bride kicking things off. The groom filling in the middle looking starry-eyed at his bride. The speeches are generally finished off with some light-hearted attacks on the groom by his best man. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, mostly and thankfully nothing. There have been occasions where myself and most of the guests have cringed thinking that’s really not appropriate. But generally, couples give a lot of thought about who will be giving the speeches and what they might say.
I will have a little run through of the kind of thing you will get in each of the speeches. Please don’t think that because there is a standard format that this is a bad thing. The typical topics covered by each speech are there because they are important. Don’t feel that you have to break the mould. It is the mould because it works. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with going a little off the beaten track.
Father of the bride’s speech.
A formal welcome to everybody and a mention to those passed or unable to attend. How his little girl has grown and what an elegant and beautiful woman she has become. How proud he is to welcome the groom into the family. Some humorous stories of the bride as a young girl. Some of the most animated speeches I have seen have been from the father of the bride.
Maybe some of her early dreams and aspirations. especially if they are just a little embarrassing. maybe a lighthearted joke about everybody enjoying the day, especially as it’s costing so much but be careful here. That can come across badly. Often a tear of pride and of course a warm and loving welcome into the family for the groom.
A slightly less formal welcome to the guests. Thanks to the bridesmaid, groomsmen, family and everybody involved in bringing the day together. Often at this point, there will be gifts handed out to those who have helped organise the day. Keepsakes for the bridesmaids and groomsmen and of course don’t forget the parents especially the mothers.
Comment on how lovely the bridesmaids look and how stunningly beautiful his new wife is. Along with how lucky he feels to now be married. maybe thanks to the venue and comments on how well they have been looked after. Maybe a mention to other vendors who have gone above and beyond. A toast and a warning that the best man is well known for making things up and not to trust any stories he may have about his experiences with the groom.
The best man’s speech.
I’m saying ‘Best Man’ but quite often the best man is a woman. I have often been told the best man for any job is a woman and all too often I can not argue with that. It is traditional for the best man to make the Groom feel a little uncomfortable. Tel some embarrassing stories of their adventures together. Have a few jokes at his expense but it should always be in good humour and good taste. If you can keep the laughing you are doing well. If the room goes quiet you may have crossed a line…..
The best man’s speech can often turn out to be the most emotional. For some, it marks the ending of an age. Sometimes it feels like he is about to lose his best mate and after regaling the wedding party with their stories he feels it is all coming to an end.
I’ve said that this is the standard tradition running order. But I am seeing more Brides taking the microphone, either planned or to help out the groom who is in the process of losing it. Bridesmaids often have something to add and I have seen a few wedding speeches where the mic is offered around the room to give any guest the chance to say a few words. Traditions are important but it is also important to break a few too. Every wedding is unique and individual, make yours your day.
A few “do’s and don’ts”
- Practice your speech – There many people who can stand up in a crowd and talk confidently, humorously and pull it off. If you are one great. If not make sure you know what you are going to say.
- Keep it light, heartfelt and sincere – Honesty always shines through and your audience will relate with what you have to say.
- Keep it brief – Unless you are a great entertainer. And I think every family has them along with those who think they are. Keep it brief, don’t get lost in the weeds. Many times I have seen guests fidgeting in their seats, whispering to each other about how much longer this person will drone on. Short and sweet is always a winner.
- Thank everybody involved – Somebody who sat up several nights writing name place cards or ran the bride around every wedding dress shop in the are deserves a mention. Think about how people have helped make this day special.
- Have fun. – Remember you are with friends. It is a happy occasion. Enjoy the day. Enjoy your opportunity to take the floor and be yourself.
- Read word for word – this comes from the first point on the do’s, It will never be fluid and natural. Use cards with bullet points, it’s much more comfortable and you are less likely to miss significant portions of your speech.
- Try to shock – this is most relevant to the best man’s speech. But stories of how the groom came back from the stag weekend with a dose bever go down well. The same is true for mentioning the ex-girlfriends.
- Drink too much before your speech – It can be tempting to knock back a stiff drink or two if you are very nervous about facing 150 people but It is more likely to make it all go wrong.
- Worry about it – even if it goes wrong you will have given people something to remember you by.
I hope this has been useful. If you are lined up to give a reading or make a speech at a wedding, good luck, have fun and remember it’ll all work out.
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