Wedding speeches. Those two words are enough to strike fear into the hearts of just about every father-of-the-bride and anyone nominated as Best Man. The thought of standing in front of a room mixed with complete strangers and people you know very well indeed to deliver a speech is not one which many would relish. The problems are many: what tone to take, what to include and what to exclude, how many jokes to add and how to be sure they are funny enough.
Fortunately the internet is full of advice (some of it conflicting, some of it seemingly designed to add to the feeling of terror!) on how best to go about the speech ordeal.
In our capacity as wedding caterers, often supplying freshly-made crepes as the dessert to a wedding breakfast, we’ve been privileged to witness quite a number of wedding speeches over the years, and one of the safest and at the same time enjoyable ways of getting over the speech hurdle we’ve seen was at a wedding near Uttoxeter in Staffordshire.
Seating was mixed, meaning that those who knew the bride and groom were roughly equally distributed amongst tables. The best man had clearly put the thought in and had researched how best to organise the speech-making so as to minimise the trauma. He had arranged it in a kind of quiz format, so after a short introduction, guests were asked to open an envelope on each table and nominate one person to select the correct answer from a multiple-choice list. As guests sat and enjoyed their wedding breakfast dessert of crepes they were asked to select the answer most likely to be correct in response to a series of increasingly embarrassing anecdotes about the groom. The potential for causing maximum embarrassment was enormous and the best man didn’t disappoint, “refusing” to confirm the answer to one particularly embarrassing question, even though the choices on offer made it clear what it was.
Not only did the quiz involve the guests in speech (audience participation always works well for engagement!) it also reduced the pressure on the Best Man. Everyone (except the groom!) benefitted from this method and there were even appropriate prizes on offer for the winning table.
If we had realised what the speech involved we would have been happy to offer extra pancakes for winning wedding guests as an additional incentive!