At traditional wedding receptions the speeches and toasts generally take place after guests have finished their meal and before the cutting of the cake. The bride rarely makes a speech, but with civil partnerships it will be up to you and your partner to decide if one or both of you will speak, and the order of the speeches. It can be a very daunting prospect, so here are a few tips to help you on the way.
Even the most experienced public speakers, used to standing in front of large numbers of people, need to prepare. You want your guests to laugh in the right places and for the right reasons, so avoid impromptu speeches which could leave you floundering with nowhere to go. The old adage “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail” really does come in to play here!
You can choose to use all your own material or go online to find examples of speeches which you can adapt to suit you with your own anecdotes and jokes.
Keep It Short
Wedding speeches are notorious for overrunning, and a bad or boring speech really can ruin a celebration. However well intentioned, having someone drone on for 40 minutes (especially if it’s between courses) could have guests heading for the bar, or worse, the door, which would be a disaster. Keep it short and sweet; five minutes is quite long enough, 10 minutes at most for the experienced orator!
Choose the Subject Wisely
If in doubt, leave it out! Don’t mention previous relationships, sexual details or family drama. It may sound straightforward enough, but some speakers really can make incredible gaffs which can embarrass not only the happy couple but also the guests.
Tell a story that will warm the heart, rouse the crowd with laughter and bring a tear to the eye. You should avoid gay and lesbian stereotypes and sweeping generalisations. Avoid rude jokes and sexual innuendo unless you are sure you can get away with it.
You should also be aware that for some guests this will be their first civil partnership celebration, so keep a balanced sense of judgement and don’t say anything offensive.
Write It Down
Most people aren’t used to giving speeches, so how do you preparing yourself for this important task? Unless you have a photographic memory you’ll need some sort of script.
It’s a good idea to use something like A5 cards rather than a big piece of paper, which can be distracting. Highlight any key words and phrases, and number your cards just in case you drop them!
Also, remember to look at the audience from time to time and try not to spend the entire speech looking down at the words you’ve written.
Don’t think of making a speech as an ordeal. Remember that you are part of a special and wonderful day. You are not standing in front of a hostile audience, but friends and family, so relax, enjoy and don’t forget to toast the happy couple!
Guest post by Lester Gethings
Image from The Crawleys