I might be in the minority on this, but the speeches have always been my favourite part of any wedding. I even love a bad speech.
The tradition whereby only The Men get to give them seems anachronistic, though – why shouldn’t the bride, her mother or a bridesmaid also have a say?
Apparently it’s becoming more usual for the bride to ‘reply’ after the groom’s speech, but so far this has only been the case at two of the 20 or more weddings I’ve attended.
The persistence of this particular tradition (in the UK at least) may stem from the fact that speaking in public is often such a daunting prospect. I know several grooms, best men and fathers of the bride who have dreaded their speech so much that it has completely clouded the part of the day preceding it.
The persistence of this tradition may stem from the fact that speaking in public is often such a daunting prospect
So, as long as the bride can use the excuse of ‘tradition’ to let her off this particular hook, why shouldn’t she take advantage of it?
That was what I planned to do, at least, until I went for a long walk and found myself thinking about what I might say, if I were going to give a speech.
I’d certainly mention my mother-in-law, I thought, mentally drafting an affectionate tribute. Then I’d move on to the talents and accomplishments of the Groom-to-Be’s family and how, in taking his surname, I have rather a lot to live up to.
And I would mention his humour and patience, how much he plays down his professional achievements, and how his own four stints as best man speak clearly to his loyalty and friendship.
Then I would mention how, when I consider why I’m rather keen on the prospect of marrying him, I’m reminded of a quote from Jane Austen’s Persuasion:
[Anne]: “My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
“You are mistaken”’ said Wentworth gently, “that is not good company, that is the best.”
By the time my walk is over, my ‘speech’ has been almost entirely written in my head. Fortunately, unlike The Men, I still have a few weeks to decide whether or not I’m actually going to give it…
Will you be speaking at your wedding? Find out more about Debrett’s public speaking courses by calling 020 3705 2210 or emailing OllyWalker@debretts.co.uk.
In the event of tipsy hecklers, faulty microphones or a sudden coughing fit (sound familiar?), Debrett’s academy director Rupert Wesson has also shared some advice on what to do when your speech goes wrong.
Days remaining: 28
Spend: As before.