Once in a while, we will all experience it. The wedding where the speakers babble on and on, speeches seemingly last forever and guests go from thinking about their meal at the start to needing a few drinks by the end of them.
If the speeches collectively last around half an hour then count yourselves lucky, anything past this point risks losing the interest of the audience and falling into the classic category that so many speech writers do.
Certain speeches run for well over an hour because we are all human and people make mistakes. Why does it happen so often?
The most common causes are as follows:
- Too much dialogue. Believing you have to and then attempting to squeeze an entire life story into the speech (You don’t. Relevancy is everything here!)
- Lack of time management. Not properly timing the speeches in advance is a fatal error at a wedding.
- Making it about you. Failing to consider the other speeches there are can ruin the flow of proceedings and disrupt your fellow speakers.
So what is the optimal length of a speech? How do you stop yourself falling into this trap and risk not captivating your audience when the spotlight is well and truly on you?
Know Your Audience
Realistically, most of what anybody has to say of great note can fit on one side of the paper before people switch off or the speaker goes off topic and starts to ramble.
The key to a good speech is remembering to hit key points and only elaborate if it helps the story, a short speech is so much better than a long speech. Concentration levels naturally dip after around ten minutes, so aim for less but do not go over this barometer whatever you do.
Know Your Role
So how long should a wedding speech be? Depending on your role, the size of the occasion and your placing in the order of speeches can all dictate the timing and length of an adequate speech.
Even if you think you are hilarious and have the room in the palm of your hand, today is not about you. Even your best one-liners or compelling recollections will go completely over the heads of guests as they would most likely have lost interest altogether around the ten minute mark.
Respect The Fluency
There is an order, an itinerary and most importaantly a lot of food and dink to be consumed around what you have planned to say.
If you are up first (usually father of the bride) then keep it short and sweet as it is likely the crowd will use your speech as a warm up for the main event (best man), even oof the groom is sandwiched between the other two speeches.
Do not disrupt the flow of the day by overstaying your welcome on the microphone, it will have a kock on effect for the other speeches and the rest of the day. Keep things flowing and even if you have not said everything you had planned, gauge the audience and know when to wrap it up and get back to your drink.
How To Prevent This From Happening
Practise makes perfect and this is where you need attention to detail or you will go long and suffert the consequences. Luckily, there is some simple and effective preparation to complete which will safeguard you from any embarrassment;
When putting pen to paper (or typing) always be aware that your speech should be within the 5 to 7-minute range. This gives you some breathing space before hitting the magic 10 minute mark if anything goes wrong.
When aiming for a five-minute speech, your target should be writing around 750 words. This is based on an average speaker relaying around 130 per minute. Make things easier on yourself and simply count how many words are in your speech to estimate the length of it and duration it will last on the day.
Don’t waste your time worth a token effort. If you are going to rehearse then do it justice by applying yourself when practising and do it properly. If you do not commit in rehearsal it is likely that you will come unstuck on the big stage and regret it forever.
The potential embarrassment for yourself and the disappointment of both the large audience and the newlywed couple will be hard to take. So do not allow it! Once your speech is written and you are happy with it, practise, practise, practise.
Find an empty room with no distractions, get a timer or a stopwatch (your phone will do) and thrash it out time after time until you get the timing correct, build confidence and are totally comfortable with what you are doing.
This also allows much of the information to be invoked in your memory via the constant repetition. This will allow the speech to sound more natural and from the heart as you won’t have to look down at your notes and can face your audience when addressing them.
Timespans And Content Ideas
As a further guide, we have listed who should cover what and given suggested times for each speech to help you out when it comes to the time.
What The Father Of The Bride Is Expected To Cover (3 to 5 minutes)
- Introduce yourself even if it is obvious to all who you are
- Thank those who helped piece the day together, the guests for attending and especially those who have traveled particularly far to be there.
- Discuss any fond memories you have of your daughter (or son) growing up
- Boast about someachievements of theirs and any accomplishments that have made you proud, try to include when you first met their new spouse
- If you can bear it, compliment your child’s new spouse and welcome them into the family
- Wish them happiness in marriage, and part with any advice you deem appropriate
General Areas The Maid Of Honor Or Best Man could mention (5 to 7 minutes)
- Introduce yourself and explain your link to the newlyweds
- What endears you to the bride or groom
- An funny anecdote or cherished memory involving the bride or groom
- The love story in your own words, maybe a different perspective
- Express some love for the partner
- Show enthusiasm and excitement about the couple’s future together
Traditional And Suggested Topics That The Groom Could Cover (3 to 5 minutes)
- Ensure to thank your guests for coming, thank the groomsmen, best man and bridesmaids before a special mention to remember those who could not be there
- State how lucky you feel to have found one another and how happy you are with the way the day has panned out, sharing it with your nearest and dearest.
- Maybe share a little something about what you love most about your partner then drop in how the preparations have gone and the stress level involved for all concerned.
- Praise, compliment and shower your new spouse with some love. Emphasize how much they put into the organization and how the day would not have been possible without their hard work and determination.
- Time to make a thank you toast that concludes the formalities. To all in attendance, to your marriage, and to what the future holds.