There’s nothing that brings a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception to a screeching halt like speeches that go on for hours or home made video presentations that are the celluloid equivalent of War & Peace. How does one avoid the pain of open-mic night or seeing your Grade Six ballet recital replayed in it’s full, teeth grinding splendour? It’s tough to rein everyone in but if you talk to the ‘usual suspects’ beforehand about how you’d like the event to play (or not to play) out, then you should be able to keep the boredom/embarrassment to a minimum.
Rehearsal dinners are notorious for everyone and anyone stepping up to the microphone – unless you specifically ask a few people to speak beforehand and request that no one offer up the stage to the rest of the guests. You may not be able to curtail the spontaneous speaker but go with the flow – it’s your moment to bask and let them share the love if they feel so inclined. If the other speakers have kept it short and sweet, others will likely follow suit.
For the wedding speeches, decide at least two months beforehand who you would like to speak and when. Traditionally, the father of the bride offers the welcome speech before dinner, the best man gives the next speech and the groom (and bride if you wish) offer up the last speech of the night. If you have a number of speeches, you may want to have them presented during the intervals between courses (if having a plated dinner) or, if having a buffet, have a couple before and the rest after dinner. Ask your speakers to keep their discourse to a time limit (ie five minutes) so things keep moving along. A Master of Ceremonies will help keep everything flowing smoothly as well.
Of course, there is always the chance of a ‘wild card’ – the uncle who never met a microphone he didn’t love or the former college roommate who’s had a little too much champagne and embarks on an inappropriate trip down memory lane. If you suspect you may have one of these in your ‘deck’, have your MC or the best man on stand-by for cutting them short. One of the most effective methods is applause – your ‘plant’ starts clapping (make sure you and hubby quickly join in) and they intercept the microphone with ‘oh, Bill, that’s just great. Thanks so much for sharing. Let’s give it up once more for Uncle Bill” as they clap louder, your plant positioning himself into the microphone, leaving Bill little choice but to sit back down. This is usually very effective and saves face for all.
If you know of friends or family members planning on creating a video or DVD presentation, talk to them about when you’d like it shown (ie rehearsal dinner, during cocktails, during speeches at the wedding) and the maximum amount of time you’d like it to run. Tell them that you’re very honoured/touched/delighted that they want to take the time to do so. Explaining that as you’re working on the timing of the event and need to keep it flowing, you need to know how long they expect it to run. If it’s more than 10 minutes or so, you may want to ask them to cut it back as you don’t want the audience to lose focus (a recent wedding had a marathon presentation of two videos back to back clocking in well over an hour – waaaaay too long).
Brevity is best – remember people have short attention spans!
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