How to Give a Big Speech at a Small Wedding

This is a sponsored post from Speechy

After a rocky twelve months in the wedding world, there’s hope on the horizon for couples getting hitched this year. With the Covid landscape still somewhat hazy, many will hedge their bets and opt for smaller celebrations. We asked the writers at Speechy how to craft a big impact speech for a small wedding…


Centre the Speeches

The toasts are an anticipated part of every wedding. A great one brings laughter, warmth and poignancy to what is already a gorgeous occasion.

With the traditional entertainment dialled down for a smaller do, the speeches will likely be the centrepiece of the day – and the difference between a wedding breakfast and a posh dinner out!

Speechy’s Heidi Ellert-McDermott says: “Weddings will obviously be less extravagant this year – no dancing, less alcohol – but couples should still try to add a party atmosphere to their day. Heartfelt, humorous speeches are the perfect solution. Yes, they take a bit of effort but they can add so much personality, fun and love to the day. And they don’t cost a thing!”

The Speakers

When the conventional top table line up of groom, best man, and father of the bride makes up a fifth of your wedding party, it might be worth considering a fresh approach.

It makes sense for both newlyweds to say a few words at a more intimate wedding – perhaps with a joint speech.

Heidi says: “So many wedding traditions are being broken this year – and one that definitely needs to be questioned is the idea that all the speakers need to be blokes. When we work with mums and best women we generally find they have plenty to say –and they always seem to love delivering their speech.”

Scandinavian Model

Our Nordic friends share the speeches among the whole crowd. A smaller guestlist is perfect for this spontaneous style, where all guests are encouraged to propose a short toast to the newlyweds.

Swedish wedding dinners tend to go on for hours so keep these short – it may be wise to give a hint of this ahead of time. You could designate a tongue in cheek ‘master of ceremonies’ role to one of your guests, who can then keep the speakers in check.

Drop the Formalities

There’s no real need to address your guests as ladies and gentlemen at any wedding, and this is especially true of micro ceremonies.

‘Keep language natural and authentically you – it’ll relax you and everyone else.’ Says Heidi. ‘A simple ‘hey everyone’ or ‘well, I guess we finally made it!’ will suffice as an opener.’

No Waffle, Just Toast

Your speech should reflect your wedding size. At a small wedding, this probably means a maximum length of eight minutes – it’s really just about thanking everyone there and giving a humorous (heavily abridged!) summary of your journey from first date to now.

If you thought streamlining the guestlist was hard, wait till you get your hands on the first draft of your speech… Edit, and edit once more until you’re left with only the wittiest lines – and ideally less than 1,000 words.

“Shorter speeches are actually a hard beast to master,” says Heidi “It takes a special skill to edit stories, thank yous and tributes to people without losing all the humour and sentiment with it. Yes, there’s a few ‘to dos’ within every speech but don’t make it sound like a check list. You still need to entertain.”

Speaking in a Quieter Environment

Addressing a smaller group presents its own challenges. Sure, you don’t have to worry about using a mic but a closer environment can feel quite intense.

While a large crowd might allow you to tune everyone out– there’s no getting away from that spotlight when you’re presenting to a smaller audience.

“Keep in mind that the people listening are on your side and are genuinely excited to hear what you have to say,” says Heidi, “And there will be less heckling from the ‘naughty table’!”

Be Honest But Upbeat

Your wedding is likely to be one of the first time your friends and family have been in a group setting for a while so it would be odd to ignore the impact of the pandemic in your speech.

How you do this depends, not only on your experience of the pandemic, but those of your guests.

It may be that you celebrate this chance to get together with some humour. If running around chasing suppliers and insurance companies felt like a Benny Hill sketch at times (let’s face it, never particularly funny), have fun with the anecdotes.

Remember, the last year has been a struggle for everyone and laughter really can be healing, so look for the humour in your lockdown narrative.

Sharing an ‘office space’ (kitchen table) with your partner likely gave you some eye-opening insights into their work personality – post-it freak or Pot Noodle and coffee cup hoarder? Send yourselves up.

“Of course, if any of your guests have been ill with Covid, or one of their loved ones has, then more tact will be called for.” Says Heidi. “Focus your thoughts on the joy of finally being able to come together with your favourite people again.”

If living through a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to be less squeamish about talking about the truly significant stuff. Where better to lean into love speak than in your wedding speech?

Tailor Your Jokes

Speeches are more about the audience than the person delivering it, so think about who you’re writing for.

“Those close to the bone gags that would have had your rugby mates rolling in the aisles might not go down so well with a group that’s made up predominantly of parents and grandparents!” Heidi says.

That said, this could be a time for you to include the kind of in-jokes that would normally be a no-go area for weddings with a larger guestlist. In any case, by no means should you forego the humorous element – a small crowd calls for some big laughs.

Remember the Virtual Guests

If you’re live-streaming the wedding, then schedule the speeches for a point that everyone will be tuned in. If people have made the effort to dress up and get the champers out – then they at least deserve a shout out.

The Sequel Speech

Many couples plan to host a larger celebration at a later date, in which case you may wish to hold fire on some of the more uproarious anecdotes until you have an audience full of belly-laughers.

It’s perfectly fine to recycle your speech, with a few embellishments. There’s no need to thank the same people twice and, with a bigger crowd, remember to cut the in-jokes.

At a larger wedding, a good speech can be up to 10 minutes if you’re an accomplished speech giver.  This is the party speech, the tone needs to change to reflect that.

Speechy is a team of TV comedy writers who craft amazing wedding speeches for couples around the world. For an exclusive 10% off all their services throughout March, visit Speechy’s website and use Confetti10 at checkout.

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