How Long Should A Wedding Speech Last?
The wedding vows have been spoken, your wedding photographer has taken all your fantastic wedding photos, an your spectacular food has been eaten – and so we approach what is for some the most entertaining part of your wedding day – the wedding speeches! Fun, funny, entertaining… Or they can drone on and on… So how long should your wedding speeches be?
Big Tip – If you’re getting married, whether you’re worried or not, share this blog post with your friends and family invited to make speeches at your wedding. Not only is it full of super useful information for them, but it can also help you avoid that long wait for the toilet that comes with a succession of Lord Of The Rings -esque epic speeches!
This is part one of a three part series focusing on wedding speeches, check out our blog posts to see the other two…
Whether you’re naturally shy, or a secret Tony Stark, those in the know say the longest your speech should be Is ten minutes. It’s pretty well known (and common sense if you think about it) and yet many speeches can go on and on – so why do people think a long speech is a good one?
The main culprit we’ve seen in our many weddings is when someone feels the urge to share an entire life story of the either the bride or groom, or of their relationship back in the day. Indeed some of the cringiest speeches we’ve seen are when the speaker is indeed talking about themselves and their relationship with the bride or groom – rather than with the stars of the day!
Another problem is that often people don’t realise how long their speech actually is when spoken aloud. These are easy ones to spot as halfway through cards get dropped and the odd “oh I’ll skip that” are muttered under their breath as they realise they are losing the audience. Sometimes this can fall down spectacularly when a later joke depends on a bit of dropped information – and the joke falls flatter than the Salt Lake Flats…
Furthermore, consider that there are at least two or three other speeches to come – each of which can fall victim to the “longer is epic-er” fallacy. Even worse is if they don’t, and yours is the super long speech everyone remembers for being long (not necessarily good) and stopping them from going to the toilet – whilst the others were short, sweet, and much better by comparison….
That’s The Problem – So What’s The Solution?
A few simple tips and techniques will help you nail your speech. Firstly, think word count when actually writing your speech. Typically English people speak at a rate of 100-120 words per minute (obviously varying depending upon the individual). So if you aim for a speech of approximately 700-800 words you’re starting off right. This allows for gaps, pauses, and interruptions – but also with enough ‘meat’ to make it memorable.
Secondly, read your speech out loud and time it. This actually follows on from a tip we’re going to suggest in our upcoming blog post about ‘nailing the perfect wedding speech’ where we’re going to have you read it aloud to an empty room, but has the obvious benefit of being able to time it. In line with the technique for getting used to speaking in front of crowds and nailing it first time, it’s very useful to read your speech out loud from beginning to end (as if you were delivering it for real), with mistakes and all, to get a real sense of how long your speech actually is… It’s important when you do this that you read it out loud at slow rate – as you may be speaking much more quickly than you think in the rehearsal.
Wedding Bingo / Raffles – A Warning…
We’ve seen a handful of weddings now that include either ‘wedding speech bingo’ or the ‘wedding toast raffle’, which can involve one (or both) of the following games.
For Wedding Bingo cards are handed out with ‘typical wedding speech phrases’ on them for your guests to cross out as they go along. Or there’s a ‘wedding raffle’ where everyone guesses the length of the speeches and the winner is the guest who guessed closest the eventual time.
Whilst cute as ideas, virtually every time we’ve seen these games in practice they have been detrimental to the wedding day. The following scenarios are all true stories, and there are many more we could cite:
- There’s the case of the poor best man whose speech was massively upstaged by someone shouting ‘BINGO’ and all the commotion that surrounded it. So perturbed was he that he refused to finish his speech putting a massive downer on the day.
- Then there’s the wedding where a lady won the bingo, but was too afraid to shout out (disturbing the speeches) only for another person to claim the prize, leading to arguments later that night.
- The wedding raffle leads naturally to the scenario (we have seen no less than three or four times over the years) where the best man or father of the bride ‘game’ the system by colluding to have a stupidly long speech so as in order to win. On one occasion at Penshurst Place this lead to an Uncle of the Bride (stepping in for Father of the Bride) speech going on for over 90 minutes….. We’re not joking… He was literally reading print outs of the Wikipedia page about Penshurst Place to fill the time. Whilst it’s kind of funny in the abstract, at the time it was certainly not funny for the wedding couple or their guests. So ashamed was the ‘winner’ when the DJ announced the prize money (of over £150) that he tried to give it back to the groom. The massive delay caused no ends of problems for the venue, and indeed the evening guests who arrived before the speeches were over with no party to go in to. A cute game and a ‘funny idea’ lead to huge problems, complained about many times by the bride & groom after the wedding day, wishing they had never done it.
So That’s How Long I Should Talk – But What Do I Say?!
Not sure where to get started in writing your wedding speech? Here are the ‘basics’ to get you started. Treat them as ‘jumping off points’ to get you thinking about more specific details and moments you have to share about your friends and family.
Also – we’re going to come back to this in other articles, but if you do google ‘best man’s speech’ or go looking on youtube for ‘epic best man speech ideas’ or whatnot – here’s a good tip. Don’t use anything from pages 1-5 of the search results – they’ve been done to death!
Extra bonus tip, mentioning or starting your wedding speech with: “like everyone making a wedding toast I went on google and searched for best man speech jokes” really destroys your speech no matter what you say next – as you’ve basically just told everyone this:
“Hi, I’ve molly-coddled together some random stuff from the internet and am presenting it to you here – anything good you won’t give me credit for because I just told you I copied it – and anything terrible reflects badly on me for having all that good material to draw from and messing up the delivery”
Some Starting Points – Do’s and Don’ts:
- Do – thank your guests for attending, and make some honourable mentions – elderly relatives and those who have travelled from far and wide.
- DO NOT – give a big shout out to the family member who travelled the furthest like they ‘won’ as then the second /third furthest (who may have still travelled a great distance) will now be angry at you for not caring about their ten hour car drive or nine hour flight…
- DO – thank your new parents (especially if they stumped up a lot of cash)
- DO NOT – list more than four or five big thank-yous at the risk of your speech becoming a school register – aaaaaand really annoying anyone who you did in fact forget to mention…
- DO – talk about the Bride with some heart felt love and some cute funny jokes
- DO NOT – spoil that moment talking about the bride by going too far…. You know what we mean!
- DO – Introduce the Best Man and thank them for all their help
- DO NOT – spend more time on the best man than you do on the bride (either bigging them up, or trying to hamstring them before their speech about you – you’ve been warned!)
- DO – toast the Bridesmaids and say how beautiful they look
- DO NOT – forget to toast the groomsmen and how ugly they look 😉
More To Come
We’ve got some more blog posts focusing on the Best Man’s Speed, and the Wedding Toasts in general – but hopefully this was a brilliant starting point for you.
Wedding Photographer Who Has Heard ‘All’ The Wedding Speech Jokes – Mykey Day
Your Wedding Day will never be as important to anyone else as it is to you, but trust us when we say – your wedding will be crucially important to us as well! Please browse our website for examples of our work, and we look forward to making your wedding photographs special too.