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 gentlemen’ 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…
- Thank you for coming to our slimmed-down wedding. There’s no DJ, no hog roast, but fortunately, no one has to sit next to the Rugby boys.
- Welcome to our little wedding. It’s not fancy, it’s not expensive but it is a day filled with love and that’s because you’re with us.
- Welcome to our little wedding day. Now, we may not have a hundred-odd people here to celebrate with us today but please consider it your duty to eat, drink, and dance as if there was. You are our dearest friends and family and we want you to have as much fun as us today.
3 – SCHEDULING YOUR SPEECHES
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
This is a wedding trend that originates from Scandinavia and it works well at small weddings. The idea of spontaneous wedding toasts is to invite any guest to stand up and give a toast if they so desire.
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 and obvious.
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 professionals do it…
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’.
Check out our guide on how to make your speech funny.
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
With a smaller crowd and no plus-ones, 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 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 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.