The rise and rise of the female wedding speech
You’ve whittled down the guest list, agonised over the perfect venue and schlepped across the Channel to pick up the Sauvignon Blanc. You’ve almost certainly fitted all this around a busy job and social life. And you’ve probably dipped into your own pocket to pay for your nuptials. So why on the big day itself should you remain silent in white satin while the men in your life get to do all the talking?
Ladies, it’s time to ping a spoon against your wine glass and stand tall in your stilettos. The male-dominated microphone has had its day. More and more couples are throwing out the traditional rule book and creating their own set of speech makers.
And it’s not just the brides we can hear clearing their throats.
These days, it’s increasingly normal to see the mother of the bride or groom taking centre stage in a packed marquee. Or a witty chief bridesmaid getting the biggest laughs.
After all, the modern bride is hardly a blushing 20 year old. With an average age of 33.8, she’s accustomed to equality in her workplace and relationship. And nothing is going to induce her, or the best women in her life, to remain silent on the big day.
But before you march up to that podium and yank the microphone from a gushing groom, you may want to take a deep breath. The female speech is far from a stammer-free zone. Whether you’re the bride herself, or a key friend or relative, you only have one chance to get it right.
You may be floating on happiness, adrenalin and a few too many glasses of Veuve Cliquot, but you’re still going to be pretty nervous. You probably haven’t slept. You’re likely to have spent all morning getting zipped into unfamiliar clothes and your new shoes are teeteringly high. On top of that, you’ve spent months planning every last detail of the day and possibly remortgaged your house to pay for it. Suffice to say, your emotions are running pretty high.
This is why you need to know your speech really well, so it can stand up to impromptu tears, laughter and loving asides. Apart from thanking the people you need to thank, sucking up to your new in-laws and waxing lyrical about your groom, you, of all the speakers, can tear up the rule book. While best man are conventionally funny, fathers adoring and grooms thankful, you are free to say exactly what you want. And nobody is going to stop you.
Best Woman Speeches
Whether you’ve been asked to speak for your best female friend (the bride) or, more unusually, your best male friend (the groom), or whether you’re the proud sister of either, you are brilliantly placed to go down a storm. Best women are more unusual than best men, which means the wedding guests are likely to be more receptive – and, vitally, more forgiving. But it’s not just the novelty factor that makes you so popular. With a woman’s perspective and tone, you can bring fresh material to the classic name-and-shame best man’s speech. Be funny, but not at the expense of the bride or groom. Dig up some corkers from their past – but not if it’s going to upset the parents. And be nice. This is not all about the gags. Yes, you want people to congratulate you. But wedding audiences want the mushy stuff as well as the wit. You, more than anyone else at the wedding, are perfectly poised to roll out the pathos.
Mother of the Bride or Groom Speech
Mothers and other female relatives are also keen to have a voice. And, like the brides and best women, they often have a freer rein. Mother of the bride speeches are getting increasingly common – and, again, they can often be real tear jerkers. This is your opportunity to tell the world (or the 90-odd wedding guests) just how wonderful your daughter is. See we told you it was easy! Just don’t talk for too long and remember to credit the man she’s marrying.
The mother of the groom has a trickier job. There’s nothing more terrifying than a new mother-in-law telling the bride how lucky she is to be marrying her amazing son – watch the film Monster-in-Law for a lesson in how not to behave. If, however, you manage to combine genuine love and affection for your son, with an emphasis on how lucky he is to be marrying such a fantastic woman, there won’t be a dry eye in the house (or marquee). It’s also a great opportunity to lay the foundation for a healthy mother/daughter-in-law relationship.
Getting Your Speech Right
With the rule book in tatters, today’s nuptials are proof that the traditional wedding day can be tweaked and trimmed to suit the needs of a 21st-century couple. But just as no wedding, however modern, could be complete without flowers and champagne, no wedding speech comes without a healthy dose of nerves.
Lawrence Bernstein is the owner of www.greatspeechwriting.co.uk, a company dedicated to helping you write and deliver the perfect speech – whether it be for a professional or social occasion such as a wedding.