Wedding speeches have long been the centrepiece of European weddings. Done right, nobody can forget the emotional, heart-pouring sentiments the parents of the happy couple share, or the hilariously embarrassing stories the best man or maid-of-honour tell, giving a glimpse into the lesser-known parts of their lives.
If you want to add another amazing moment to your day, Speechy’s Shai Hussain (BBC Comedy Room alumnus) has all the advice you need.
Scheduling The Speeches
Some South Asian wedding festivities can go on for days. There’s the Haldi, the Sangeet, the Vallima, the actual Wedding and depending on your cultural background, possibly many more.
Most of the time, speeches take place during the evening of the wedding, just after dinner. This gives people time to arrive (Asian weddings rarely run to time, the guests less so!) but also a good time for everyone to take a break from chatting to each other.
If you’re stretched for time, speeches could be held during dinner, but the clinks and chewing can be off-putting, and all eyes should really be on that stage rather than ensuring nobody takes that last tandoori chicken.
It’s a good idea to do speeches before the DJ kicks off the night with the first dance when the energy really switches up a tempo. This is also often the point at which the older guests will feel they’ve fulfilled their societal commitment in attending and go home(!).
We would always recommend not disrupting a DJ set with a round of speeches as it can kill the energy of the floor. However, if you did have some x-rated stories to share, with the old judgmental fogeys gone, this would be the time.
The wedding day itself is best to do the speeches since most of your guests will be at that event. But if you find you have quite a few speeches to get through, it may be an idea to split them into two batches – especially if you have the same guests attending two of your events.
Who Should Speak?
Although traditionally, it’s mainly male members of the family and friends who get to do most of the talking, thankfully this is now changing with the times. It’s always best to open with one of the parents of the couple as this immediately commands respect with everyone in the room. Let’s be honest, the most difficult part of South Asian wedding speeches is ensuring everyone stays quiet!
What follows is often symmetrical between both sides of the couple:
- The mother of the groom follows the father of the bride
- The best man follows the maid of honour
- The bride’s sibling might follow the groom’s bestie
- And ideally, finish with the bride and groom
Although speeches at South Asian weddings have really only come into their own the last few decades, now everyone wants to be part of it, even when they have nothing prepared. Many an uncleji feels they deserve their part in the limelight solely by being the twice-removed brother of the bride’s mother. But to maintain the will of the guests to live, try and maintain speeches to a maximum of six, with the durations going no longer than five minutes. Three minutes would be perfect.
If you have a DJ or ideally a toastmaster, it will be their job to announce the speeches before the speakers join the stage. As a DJ, I often prearrange an anthem for the speakers to walk in, as there’s nothing more uncomfortable than a silent solo walk with everyone watching you!
What To Include In Your Speech
The most important advice regarding speech content is to know your audience. On the most part, South Asian weddings can be a tad conservative, so try and keep away from anything too risque. But with wedding speeches increasingly pushing the boundaries, guests have become more familiar with the concept and understand that this is the time things may get a little ‘cabaret’, so dive into our blog on how to make your speech funny.
Of course, many speeches at South Asian weddings revolve around thanking people for coming, followed by thanks for the wedding services, everyone saying how beautiful the bride looks, with an unexpected change of pace from the best man who gives out sarees, shirts and flowers for the next ten minutes.
But speeches can be so much more than this. This is an opportunity to celebrate the coming together of two souls who will (hopefully!) spend the rest of their lives together; for their family and friends to remember why they love them, and to discover what made the couple love each other.
There are no hard-and-fast rules on which people should cover which content – but check out our advice pages for your specific role if you do want to mock up on the usual etiquette.
Of course, with a large-scale bash, a lot of couples (and their loved ones) are turning to professional speechwriters like us to help them supercharge their speeches and not have to revise any of the etiquette! Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we could help you add an awesome moment to the day.