The Speech Surgery - How many speeches are too many?

bride giving a speech

The Speech Surgery - with Heidi Ellert McDermott, Founder of Speechy and author of The Modern Couple’s Guide to Wedding Speeches

The wedding speech tradition is as prevalent as ever and is still very much one of the key parts of the day. For some, public speaking comes quite naturally, and they wouldn't think twice about standing up and 'performing' on cue, while for others it may cause sleepless nights and anxiety but the pressure of pleasing a loved one means you can't say no! Fear not, whether you're a pro and want to heighten your speech, or a novice and you need some advice on how to settle those nerves, Heidi is here to answer your all-important questions... 

How many speeches are too many? 

Sometimes there’s just too many people you want to hear from on the day. And why wouldn’t a bride want her best friend to give a speech, or a groom to hear his folks pay a tribute to him? 
But, although wedding speeches can add fun, personality, and laughter to the day, no one wants to sit through a solid hour of them. 

As a basic guide, nearlyweds should encourage all the speakers to deliver their speech in less than ten minutes (that’s a wordcount of between 1,000 and 1,200 words). And, at ten minutes or less, three speeches can be delivered one after the other without people getting bored. 

If you want to invite more speaker to the mic, we recommend scheduling the speeches, so they aren’t delivered in one big clump. Every speech needs their chance to shine so, if you have more than three speakers, consider scheduling your speeches between the courses of your meal, rather than squeezing them all in either before or after the meal. 

For example… 
•    Master of Ceremonies (MC) welcomes guests and intros first speaker 
•    Father of the bride (5 mins)
•    STARTER 
•    MAIN COURSE 
•    MC welcomes second Speaker 
•    Mother of the groom (5 mins)
•    MC welcomes third Speaker 
•    Maid of honour (7 mins)
•    DESSERT 
•    MC welcomes fourth Speakers 
•    The Joint Couple Speech (9 mins) 
•    MC welcomes fifth Speaker 
•    Best man (7 mins) 

Even if you split up your speeches, we’d still encourage no more than five formal speeches. If you’d like to hear from more, you could adopt the Scandinavian style of wedding speeches, where everyone is invited to stand up during the meal and propose a short, ad-hoc toast to the happy couple. You can suggest the idea in your invites and get the MC to remind guests of this opportunity prior to sitting down. The benefit is, not only is it fun to get everyone involved, but it also takes the pressure off the ‘main’ speakers. 

Of course, you may still want to get proper, loving tributes from your family and some hardcore roastings from your mates, but this idea allows your naughty cousin to get involved, as well as your lovely boss and your twelve-year-old nephew. Win-win! 


Is it okay to let my groom talk on my behalf? I feel it’s a cop out, but I hate public speaking.

Brides shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything they don’t fancy at their wedding, and if public speaking isn’t your thing, then fine, don’t do it. But, at least, spend five minutes thinking about it. 
From personal experience, I can highly recommend it. 

For a start, you get to thank all your favourite people rather than your partner speaking for you. Remember, this is a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to drop a love bomb on everyone you love and your speech has the power to become a cherished memory for everyone who matters. Delivering a speech also means you get to shout about how much you love your new spouse without people wanting to throw things at you. And think about it; at a heterosexual wedding, the only tribute a groom usually gets is a roasting from his mate. A sincere moment of praise from his new spouse seems fair enough. 

Delivering my bride speech was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my day. Far more emotional and meaningful than the vows (sorry vicar). It was a moment where I was able to genuinely connect with all the guests and a chance to make all my favourite people in the world feel a little bit more loved. I also really enjoyed making people laugh and putting a smile on everyone’s faces. 

Since I set up Speechy nine years ago, I've seen more and more women stepping up to the mic, whether that's brides, mums, or maids of honour and the women we work with, all report back that they’ve loved delivering their speech on the day. That said, if you still don’t fancy it, don’t stress. You won’t go on the naughty list. 

Of course, if you don’t want to deliver a speech, do consider which other women in your life who might like to.  I’m all for shaking up the traditional three-bloke line up! 

For more advice on nailing the ultimate bride's speech visit speechy.com/speechy-advice/bride-speech

Be sure to vist back on Friday 9th February to see The Speech Surgery part two! 

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