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How to shake up your wedding speech order

How to shake up your wedding speech order
The traditional wedding speech order is the father, the groom and the best man, but there's no reason not to switch up your wedding speaker line-up
Weddings traditions have changed in recent years with couples opting to drop many customs in favour of creating a day that better represents their values and personalities.  
A STEN do (joint stag and hen do) is no longer an oddity and a wedding celebration that lasts two or more days isn’t considered extreme. Mums are now walking their daughters down the aisle and their entrance is often through a forest clearing rather than a church.   
"Weddings traditions have changed in recent years"
But one wedding element that’s struggled to evolve is the speech line-up. Even in 2023, the majority of couples still opt for the father of the bride, the groom and the best man but Heidi Ellert-McDermott, founder of the speechwriting, Speechy and the author of The Modern Couple's Guide to Wedding Speeches, says it’s time to shake up the line-up.    

Three men on the mic

"Assuming three men should be given mic time doesn’t reflect the times we live in, but more importantly, it’s a missed opportunity," says Heidi. "I’d encourage nearlyweds to really think about their line-up before anyone assumes they get to have their say on the day. Sure, sometimes the traditional line-up works but it isn’t compulsory and there’s often a far better line-up available!"
The Speechy team - wedding speech order
The Speechy team
With family dynamics as varied as they are, it doesn’t always make sense for the father of the bride to be given air-time. And why should a bride get two loving tributes while a groom gets a roasting from a friend?  
"It’s old fashioned thinking. I want couple’s to wake up to the speech possibilities open to them," adds Heidi.

Who should be on the speech line-up?

"Think about the friends and family who would love to pay a tribute to you and who you’d like to hear from on the day," says Heidi. "We’re working with more couples who want their speeches to be the epicentre of their day so at least one of the speakers should be funny and add laughter to the day. Ideally, all of them!"
Heidi also encourages all couples, straight or gay, to ensure at least one woman gives a speech. "We’re working with more brides but still not enough," she says. "I understand why brides don’t want to add another ‘to do’ to their wedding prep but I gave a speech and I’d highly recommend it."
"Heidi encourages all couples to ensure at least one woman gives a speech"
"My speech ended up being one of my favourite moments of the day. It was a chance for me to thank my loved ones and get our guests in the mood to party together. It was also one of those rare occasions where I could publicly admit to fancying my husband without seeming odd!"
Brides can, of course, give a speech that represents the couple (as the groom traditionally does) or the couple can give individual speeches (being careful not to simply repeat each other). "Another option is to give a joint speech; a growing trend that always goes down well," says Heidi.  
As well as brides grabbing the mic, Heidi encourages couples to think about the other women present who could add something special to the day. "Mother of the groom? Friend of the bride? Think outside the usual wedding box."

Shake up the line-up

"It’s not just the obvious folk that we’re working with now," says Heidi. "It’s teenage children, parents wanting to deliver a joint speech and even grandparents."
"See wedding speeches as an opportunity to add an awesome moment to the day"
A surprise addition to the line-up wakes up an audience. Guests know they’re in for a treat.
"A teenager’s perspective on your relationship can be both insightful and delightfully naughty," says Heidi. "Equally, your nan’s marriage advice can prove surprisingly saucy as well as revealing!"

Speech scheduling

Once you start thinking about your speakers, you’ll realise just how many people have something to offer.
But a word of warning: "Never have more than five speeches and if you have more than three, it’s important to think about how you’re going to schedule them," says Heidi. "Avoid a ‘speech clump’ where your guests sit through 45 mins of people speaking one after the other."
Wedding dinner
Spread speeches out so guests don't get bored
Instead, Heidi advises scheduling speeches so they’re spread over the dinner; maybe two after the starter, a couple after the main and one after dessert.   
Another option is inspired by Scandinavian toast traditions, where you invite all your guests to propose a toast over the meal. Rather than scheduling formal speeches, suggest in the wedding invite that guests are welcome to call for silence and say something (nice!) during dinner. Suggest a duration of less than a minute, though expect parents to exploit the fact they won’t be timed!

Raise a glass to more modern speeches

The advice is simple really; don’t regard wedding speeches as a begrudging obligation but an opportunity to add an awesome moment to the day.   
"Your speech line-up deserves more consideration than the colour scheme or the font you use on the table plan," adds Heidi. "People will forgot about décor and the canapés but they won’t forget the speeches. Make sure they’re memorable for the right reasons."
The Modern Couple's Guide to Wedding Speeches by Heidi Ellert-McDermott
Heidi Ellert-McDermott is the founder of Speechy and the author of The Modern Couple's Guide to Wedding Speeches (Publishing on March 9) 
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