Wedding Speeches: Speaking Roles

Many wedding traditions were enshrined in a very different time. The giving away of the bride, or the absence of female speakers at the reception are reflective of an age where gender roles were less fluid than they are today. Until recently, traditions in the UK itself denied same sex couples equal rights in marriage. In other words, wedding traditions aren’t sacrosanct. Seb, of Great Speech Writing, shares his thoughts on getting those speeches right…

The main benefit of the typical running order at heterosexual weddings (father of the bride, groom, best man), is the limit it imposes on how long speeches will go on for – typically somewhere around the half hour mark. In Sweden – where as many as 10 speakers is not uncommon – they can go on, literally all night, and the challenge becomes staying awake, or sober enough to remember anything. While we wouldn’t necessarily advise subjecting your guests to such a test of endurance, you might consider taking a leaf out of the Scandinavian wedding book: i.e. having a greater number of speeches, each lasting slightly less time.

Speaking Roles: Traditional and Some Alternatives

Mothers and Fathers of The Bride/Groom
In the spirit of equality, a common alternative is to ask a parent on each side to give a speech. This has the added benefit of allowing you to choose the parent that will a) enjoy it more, and b) deliver a better speech.

Another option is to ask your parents to do a joint speech. If they’re on speaking terms, that is. And if that thought doesn’t send shivers down your spine. Again, this has its own advantages, as often each parent will have a unique take on their child, and asking them to collaborate might make for a speech greater than the sum of its parts.

Best Man/Best Woman/Maid of Honour
Even the best man speech is rooted in relatively rigid ideas of gender norms: the assumption being that a groom’s best friend is inevitably another man. Yes, it is often the case, but it is by no means a universal.

Quite understandably, many same-sex couples choosing to marry will want to avoid heteronormative traditions. So in place of the best man/maid of honour, you might consider forgetting gender altogether, and giving (or burdening!) the responsibility to the individual, or individuals, who you feel knows you best. Ironically, this was once the case. The father of the bride speech was traditionally given by a family member – or friend – with some experience in public speaking.

Or you could ask someone to speak whose speech you know will be memorable for all the right reasons. It goes without saying that this needn’t be the privilege of only one of your friends or family members – quite the opposite!

Still struggling? Relax…
Equal Marriage is a long-fought and hard won-right, and it’s shown us that traditions which seem entrenched can change with the world around us. To paraphrase a famous song, it’s your party, and you can do what you want to. This couldn’t be more true of same-sex marriages. You don’t have to conform to the same traditions as most heterosexual weddings.  Rip up the rule book and write your own.

Speech Writing Help

If you would like help writing your wedding speech, you could seek the help of a professional speech writer, like Seb from Great Speech Writing. You can call him on 020 8245 8999.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments below

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1 thought on “Wedding Speeches: Speaking Roles”

  1. A rhetorical question is a great way to get the audience involved in the speech, especially if their answer gets them interested in the topic. If you forget a part, you can still talk about it and the audience won’t even know that you skipped a part. You can use somebody gestures/movements, but not too many.

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