You’ve done the impossible and trimmed your guest list down to the Covid-required Triple A List of your nearest and dearest.
You’ve bought into the ‘small is beautiful’ theme and maybe even feel smug at the lack of table planning or debt incurred. But as well as everything else on the wedmin list that needs some rethinking, so do the speeches.
The good news is, having a smaller crowd doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dial down your speech. Conversely, with everything else stripped-back, heartfelt and humorous speeches are more important.
As top rated speechwriters on Hitched and Trustpilot, the Speechy team has helped craft hundreds of bespoke wedding speeches for audiences big and small. So here are our top ten tips on winning over a smaller crowd...
1 – RECOGNISE THE ROMANCE OF A SMALL WEDDING
No need for the googled-wedding-gags. Certainly no need for tradition. And no need to try to cater to a hundred-odd folk with various sensibilities.
Instead, a speech at a small wedding requires intimacy. Giggling. Mini revelations. Interacting and ad libs. And a genuine and heartfelt thank you to everyone present.
And here’s a secret… you might not have the themed decor or the cool DJ vibes of a larger wedding but guests LOVE small weddings. Guests know they’re desperately wanted (nobody is a plus-one at a wedding of 15!) and there’s something extra romantic in two people just wanting to get hitched rather than wait for the huge party to go with it.
You’re delivering a speech to a crowd who you’ve already won over, so have fun with it!
2- OPENING LINES
Forget the ‘ladies and gentleman’ bit and crack right on.
Remind your guests that they’re literally your favourite people in the world and thank them for coming.
Like any good wedding speech, get humour into your first couple of lines, maybe something like this…
- We’re so excited to finally get married. The things you have to do to book a dinner for 15 at a nice restaurant these days!
- Thank you for coming to our new slimmed-down wedding. Sadly there’s no DJ, no hog roast and the free bar runs out in two hours but at least none of you had to sit next to the Rugby lads. Sue, I think you met Steve a couple of times… needless to say this wedding is much less likely to result in a police visit than it once was.
- Not many people have chosen to get married this year but we weren’t going to let a global pandemic stand in the way of us getting hitched. Especially as it gets us out of the house…
- Thank you for donning your masks and coming to celebrate with us today. The good news is this marriage now comes with a lockdown guarantee. Yes, we’ve survived the boxset debates, the arguments over increased alcohol consumption and we still want more!
Basically, acknowledge that it sucked to ditch most of your guest list, and joke that this means you have high expectations of the ones who made the cut.
3 – AVOID THE SPEECH CLUMP
Think about scheduling the speeches a bit differently.
Rather than have them all clumped together either before or after the meal, plan them so you have one before the meal, one after the starter and one after the main. It helps make the wedding meal feel more wedding-y and works better in the context of a smaller wedding.
Just warn the waiting staff in advance of your plans.
4 – GO SCANDI
A wedding speech trend that originates from Scandinavia, spontaneous wedding toasts, works well at small weddings. The idea to invite any guest to stand up and give a toast is a great idea if the number of people wanting to get involved is limited!
Simply suggest the idea to your guests when you invite them to the day. You can keep the brief wide (‘just feel free to stand up and propose a toast’) or give them a mini-brief (‘we’d like everyone to stand up and give us their best piece of marriage advice before proposing a toast’).
As well as taking some pressure off the traditional speakers, guests generally like to get involved and wish the couple well. The toasts could literally be 30 secs long but encourage people to be no more than 3 mins. Warn them in advance!
5 – RESIST THE SEARCH ENGINES
Many speakers rely on cliches and groansome googled gags but recycled jokes are never particularly funny and at a smaller wedding, they become even more cringey.
To win those belly-laughs, you need to create your own comedy. Remember the adage, ‘it’s funny because it’s true’.
Obviously, no one is expecting you to give a stand-up routine but, if you’re after inspiration, you could do worse than take a look at how the pros do it…
What makes our favourite comedians so bloody hilarious is their inimitability. Kevin Bridges’ stand up is rooted in down-to-earth, Scottish working-class wit, while Jack Whitehall sends up his own poshness and privilege to comic effect.
Likewise, there’s no one quite like you or your partner. Capitalise on this and focus on the personality quirks that make you both recognisable and unique – is it a miracle that you found the only woman in the world willing to put up with your preference for coal tar soap? Do you have a secret fondness for his regrettable ‘Magaluf Posse 2007’ tattoo?
Find the quirks of your relationship that all the guests will recognise as truly ‘you’.
6 – RARE OPPORTUNITY FOR ‘IN’ JOKES
Presumably, the guests who made the final 15 know you and your partner better than most – here’s where we relax our righteous ‘no in-jokes’ rule. A smaller crowd allows you to be a bit more personal with the anecdotes.
Recount the cute but cringe moments in your relationship journey – chances are, half of your guests were there, and the rest will laugh picturing it. Get them in on the storytelling – invite them to contribute to the bit in your memory bank that’s missing through the blurry early days of love.
7 – GO PROFOUND
It’s worth noting that, in these scary and uncertain times, people seem to be less squeamish about talking about the importance of love. As a result, your audience will be more open to you ‘going deep’ without thinking you’re cheesy or overly soppy. And seeing as the rugby lads won’t be on the guestlist, it doesn’t really matter if you are!
If you struggle to articulate your feelings for your partner in any way that makes sense, a good idea is to use quotes. More often than not, a witty writer or wise philosopher has managed to do pin down that elusive sentiment for you already! Check out our Groom Speech Quotes or Bride Speech Quotes.
8 – EMBRACE THE COSINESS
With a small audience, the energy will naturally be lower but there are opportunities here that you won’t find with a large crowd.
We still recommend standing up to deliver your speech, but with no need for a mic, it’s easier to be expressive and use your hands to reinforce your delivery. Make sure you do!
Of course, the importance of eye contact becomes more obvious at an intimate wedding. Address whoever you’re referencing and your manner can invite them to interact with you at suitably funny moments. An eyebrow raise and a pause should suffix.
When you’re addressing your partner, focus on conveying the feeling as opposed to projecting to the crowd. And remember, there are less drunken mates present to take the proverbial out of any soppiness, so go for it.
9 – MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SPEECHES
If you fancy taking on a larger audience – and why not when you’ve written such a slamming speech? – why not invite your original guest list to zoom in and join you for the toast? This is simple enough to set up with an iPhone or laptop – just remember to keep everyone on mute so you don’t get 100 hecklers coming through your speakers.
If this feels like a bit of a faff (and it could be!), we recommend recording the speeches and hosting a Facebook Watch Party later on that you can sit down and enjoy either later that evening or another date that week. Either way, you get to celebrate twice!
10 – Let Speechy Help You…
The Speechy team are a team of TV scriptwriters by trade and these days we team up to help cool couples around the world craft amazing wedding speeches.
We’re rated ‘excellent’ on Trustpilot and, wherever you are in the world, here are some of the ways we can help you…
Give us a call if you want to find out more about how we work, the services we offer and our DELIGHT GUARANTEE.
We’re happy to give you 15 mins of our time with no obligation to work with us.
How Speechy Can Help You…
Check out our full range of Speech Templates.
Give us a call if you want to find out more about how we work, the services we offer and our DELIGHT GUARANTEE. We’re happy to give you 15 mins of our time with no obligation to work with us.