Weddings have a way of bringing out the orator in folks. It's the one chance (usually) people have to share their feelings/adventures/hopes about the happy couple. And what a wonderful opportunity it is!
However, out of control speeches can bring the wedding to a grinding halt. How many of us have been at a wedding, wishing to the Almighty (whomever that may be for you) that they'd either make time speed up or transport you to a happier, speech-free galaxy far, far away? I was just at a lovely wedding where the speeches brought us two hours behind on the timeline (result = we had to rush through all the special touches planned).
So, how to wrangle the speeches without upsetting any of the speakers?
a) Avoid 'open mic' night, where anyone can get up and say something. If you want to include something like this, do it at the rehearsal dinner.
b) Ask your speakers to keep their speeches to two minutes (five at the absolute max). Although two minutes may sound short, trying talking for that long and see how the time seems to go on…and on…and on. Funny anecdotes are best kept at the rehearsal dinner.
c) If you're having an MC, ask them to keep the 'patter' succinct.
d) Try to keep the number of speeches to a minimum. More than six and you're heading into 'zone out' territory. Wedding day speeches should be kept to the Best Man, Maid/Matron of Honour, Fathers of the couple and the Groom/Bride. If you have a number of speakers, consider moving some of them to the rehearsal dinner.
e) Break it up. Rather than have one speech after another, have one or two before dinner and the rest after dinner. If you have a number of speakers, consider having some speeches in-between the dinner courses, to help keep things 'moving along'.
f) Toast. Asking people to make a toast (rather than a speech) will usually keep things short and sweet.
Befuddled by toasting etiquette? Fear not. Here's the Lazy Bride's crib notes…
Best Man – Traditionally, the Best Man gives the first toast at the beginning of the reception, once everyone has settled into the room. If there are any telegrams, letters or emails to be read, the Best Man is the one to do so.
Fathers of the Bride/Groom – the next speech up may be the father of the bride welcoming the groom to the family and then the father of the groom.
Maid/Matron of Honour and any other members of the wedding party are next.
Groom – traditionally, the groom ends off the speeches proposing a toast to his bride and perhaps, his new in-laws. More and more, however, the bride joins her new husband and they both give a short toast.
What to Drink? If you're serving champagne/sparkling wine, it's poured as soon as everyone is seated (for a sit-down meal) or, for a cocktail reception, served to everyone once the receiving line (if any) is finished. It's not mandatory to serve bubbly, as it's perfectly OK to toast with any liquid.
What Do I Do When Toasted? Sit, smile appreciatively and then thank the speaker. The person being toasted (would that be the 'toastee'?) NEVER stands and NEVER drinks a toast to themselves. Everyone else, however, should stand and drink.