Best Man Speeches

So what do I know about Best Man speeches? I have given just one in my life, though it proved to be an absolute hoot. It was about twenty years ago now.

As a professional civil celebrant, I often have to help couples write their vows. Wedding speeches, though not actually part of my remit, are a natural extension of this. After all, this falls under the banner of public speaking, which is necessarily one of my areas of expertise.

So I make no apology for confronting this subject. It’s an important one, as so many people are genuinely intimidated by the thought of public speaking. There’s a lot of help on offer about public speaking (you may like to see my blog on this subject), but if you know you have a good speech to give, delivery becomes that bit easier.

How you actually deliver your speech is important, and, again, my blog has sound advice, which needs to be noted, especially for the amateur public speaker. One word of caution from the article that really bears repeating is not to let yourself get sozzled, however nervous you might be!

 

As for the content, here are some suggestions:

  1. It’s always good to get people laughing (for the right reasons!), so if you can find a good tag or joke (and tell it well), you’ll be off to a great start.
  2. Make sure your humorous remarks are in good taste – religion, politics, families, insults are all dangerous areas. Your main subject should be the groom. You’ll want to tell a few stories about him (you can get information from others, but, essentially, this should be about you and your best friend). Try not to waffle or talk too much about people the bride’s family will know nothing about.
  3. It’s worth mentioning how you first met the groom and why he chose you for the honour. Without being too cruel (it is the groom’s big day, after all), take the mickey out of him! Humour (with empathy) is key.
  4. Although much of your speech should be humorous, make sure it is personal and real. There should be a serious element too. You are his best mate, so a few sincere compliments are absolutely appropriate. You should acknowledge how honoured you are.
  5. Mentioning how happy the groom is now and how happy for him you are is important, and even moving. You can address these words directly to the groom for greater effect. You might even be overcome with emotion for a moment, and that is nothing to be ashamed of!
  6. You will want to finish off presently, preferably with a laugh or two. A suggestion could be fake telegrams. If there are real ones, start with these, but then move on to a couple from, say, the groom’s hamster or from Prince Charles or a TV star.
  7. This whole speech should normally last between 5 and 10 minutes. You conclude (traditionally) with a toast. This can be funny, if you can manage it.

I accept that writing a speech will take some effort and sweat of the brow, but it is manageable, especially if you can make use of this advice. The rewards are enormous for all concerned, so the labour will be more than worthwhile.

 

 

A Rumbustious Reception

A Rumbustious Reception

You don’t need me to tell you how important it is that your reception should be successful. Hopefully, the wedding ceremony will have been beautiful and memorable – and a good celebrant will ensure just that. The reception can be a different kettle of fish.

Of course, an article like this cannot hope to cover all kinds of receptions – budget and size may make all the difference. I’m also assuming that you’re not using a wedding planner, although I have often argued (for example, please see here) in favour of engaging one.

Anyway, here at least are a few ideas that might be helpful.

60s dance 25-01-2014

Invitations

I have heard it suggested that you could have space on the RSVP cards for guests to choose their favourite song (or songs) for the reception. That way, everybody will be virtually guaranteed to get up and dance at some time or another. If you like that idea, it might be wise to check beforehand that nobody’s choice is inappropriate!

The Personal touch

If there’s a seating-pan, a slightly time-consuming but lovely idea would be to place a sincere, hand-written note at each guest’s place. You may not get a chance later, but this way you can at least ensure you have thanked your guests for attending. They’ll surely appreciate the gesture.

Surprises

Extras, such as magicians, chocolate fountains, photo booths, can add something unexpected and exciting to the event (and most of your guests, who, unlike you, won’t have been studying wedding entertainment videos and magazines, will love the unexpected bonus).

Take-homes

You don’t need to give any gifts at all, but if you decide to, these could be something that ties in with the theme of your wedding. They needn’t be more than a packet of seeds for the garden.

Children

If you’re inviting little children, they could be asked to bring a favourite cuddly toy. Then if you provide a special table for these toys, the children can enjoy creating their own special party.

Depending on space, you might be able to organize a few party games. (This could actually be a possibility for some of the adults too!)

Maybe teenagers (who won’t want to be with the kiddies and certainly not with Mum and Dad!) could have a room to themselves set up with an Xbox or an area where they can sit and text comfortably during the speeches.

Drink

At least try and ensure that everyone’s first drink is free (and make sure they realise that too!). It’s nice to offer an alternative for non-drinkers such as a non-alcoholic cocktail (with the ingredients listed on a sign by the bar).

There should be enough food and drink for guests – especially if they’ve come quite a distance. Nibbles and drinks could be available for between the ceremony and reception. Jugs of water should (as it were!) be on tap.

Guest book

Apart from making a wonderful souvenir for the couple, people enjoy signing a guest-book and thus making their own contribution.

Some of these ideas will fit the bill, and, if you make the necessary preparations, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that you will be offering something a little different that will make your reception stand out (for the right reasons!)!

Winning with Wine at Weddings

Winning with Wine at Weddings

No two wedding ceremonies ought to be the same (hence, the existence of civil celebrants like me to advise and help create a unique personalised ceremony). Nor should receptions be the same – not for venue, food, entertainment or booze.

The drink side of things tends to be a bit of a worry to many people. I am not really going to focus on choice of wine/ beer etc., particularly as much may depend on budget and personal taste.

However, I do have a few suggestions, based on experience, that may prove helpful.

wineSource: www.telegraph.co.uk

How much?

As a general guide, I’d say that you should work on a couple of glasses per person of sparkling wine/champagne as an aperitif.

Assuming there’s a sit-down reception, go for half a bottle of wine per person. Of course, mineral water or soft drinks should also be available.

If it’s a morning or afternoon reception, you may find that people will consume less alcohol (and that may also prove to be a cheaper time to book the venue). Teas and coffees may become an option to consider additionally.

Restaurant

If you’re booking a restaurant as the venue, you may want to ensure they have more wine etc. in reserve. Just in case.

Bar

If you’re having a cash-bar at the venue, then quantity is not going to be such a problem.

Self-catering

Should you be holding the reception at your home, then it may be harder to judge the quantities. It is probably better to err on the side of generosity, although you won’t want masses left over. A good idea, therefore, is to buy from Majestic, as up to 10% can be returned – provided the bottle and labels are in good condition. (Be aware that if the bottle is put into a bucket of ice, the label will suffer.)

Choice of Wine

Don’t be pretentious. You want something that will be drinkable for the majority and that goes down easily. It doesn’t necessarily have to complement the food. Light whites and juicy reds would be ideal. After a heavy red, half the guests may drop off during the speeches!

You should be able to get very decent wines that meet your needs at Marks & Spencers or Waitrose for about £6 – £8 a bottle.

Cheers!

A rip-roaring reception!

A rip-roaring reception!

You don’t need me to tell you how important it is that your reception should be successful. Hopefully, the wedding ceremony will have been beautiful and memorable – and a good celebrant will ensure just that. The reception is a different kettle of fish.

Of course, an article like this cannot hope to cover all kinds of receptions – budget and size may make all the difference. I’m assuming that you’re not using a wedding planner, although I have often argued in favour of engaging one.

Anyway, here at least are a few ideas that might be helpful.

60s dance 25-01-2014

Invitations

I have heard it suggested that you could have space on the RSVP cards for guests to choose their favourite song (or songs) for the reception. That way, everybody will be guaranteed to get up and dance at some time or another. Oh, do check beforehand that nobody’s choice is inappropriate!

The Personal touch

If there’s a seating-pan, a slightly time-consuming but lovely idea would be to place a sincere, hand-written note at each guest’s place. You may not get a chance later, but this way you can at least ensure you have thanked your guests for attending. They’ll surely appreciate the gesture.

Surprises

Extras, such as magicians, chocolate fountains, photo booths, can add something unexpected and exciting to the event (and most of your guests, who, unlike you, won’t have been studying wedding entertainment videos and magazines, will love the unexpected bonus).

Take-homes

You don’t need to give any gifts at all, but if you decide to, these could be something that ties in with the theme of your wedding. They needn’t be more than a packet of seeds for the garden.

Children

If you’re inviting little children, they could be asked to bring a favourite cuddly toy. Then if you provide a special table for these toys, the children can enjoy creating their own special party.

Depending on space, you might be able to organize a few party games. (This could actually be a possibility for some of the adults too!)

Maybe teenagers (who won’t want to be with the kiddies and certainly not with Mum and Dad!) could have a room to themselves set up with an Xbox or an area where they can sit and text comfortably during the speeches.

Drink

At least try and ensure that everyone’s first drink is free (and make sure they realise that too!). It’s nice to offer an alternative for non-drinkers such as a non-alcoholic cocktail (with the ingredients listed on a sign by the bar).

There should be enough food and drink for guests – especially if they’ve come quite a distance. Nibbles and drinks could be available for between the ceremony and reception. Jugs of water should (as it were!) be on tap.

Guest book

Apart from making a wonderful souvenir for the couple, people enjoy signing a guest-book and thus making their own contribution.

 

Some of these ideas will fit the bill, and, if you make the necessary preparations, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that you will be offering something a little different that will make your reception stand out (and for the right reasons!)!

 

 

Your wedding reception guide

Your wedding reception guide

Congratulations! You are now newly-weds.

First to arrive at the reception, you wonder what happens when?

Don’t fret! The professional toastmaster (if you have booked one) or the venue’s Banqueting Manager can advise you, but here’s a guide from your local civil celebrant to put your mind at ease.

Arrival

There will normally be a receiving line to greet the guests, consisting of the bride’s parents (the hosts), the groom’s parents, bride, groom and, if desired, attendants (in that order). (If it’s a smaller reception, it might just be the newly-weds.)

This can take quite a time, and it may be preferable to dispense with this – PROVIDED that the newly-weds (and, possibly, parents) circulate during the meal. Everybody will want to congratulate them!

The Meal

At a sit-down reception, the bridal party occupy the top table. They should be (from left to right as viewed by the guests): chief bridesmaid, groom’s father, bride’s mother, groom & bride, bride’s father, groom’s mother and best man.

There ought to be a table-plan and/or place-cards for guests. Obviously, ensure there are enough chairs available for all!

Thank you

If it’s not too formal, or a buffet, bride and groom will circulate, as I’ve suggested, briefly thanking guests for coming. They will return to the table for the cake-cutting, speeches and toasts.

 

Cutting the cake

The bride places her hand over the groom’s and together they cut the cake. (It may be worth cutting it in advance, if the icing is very hard!) Someone else will cut the cake up and distribute it to everybody. (You may want to send some pieces to absent friends, so reserve these.) You traditionally keep the top tier (for the christening of the first child).

Speeches and Toasts

Ideally, they will not be too long! Incidentally, some tips on presenting are at https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/?p=507

The bride’s father will toast the couple; the groom replies on behalf of himself and the bride (thanking the bride’s parents for the wedding, the guests for attending and for their presents and toasting the bridesmaids); the best man replies on behalf of the bridesmaids and reads out any messages from absent friends.

At the end

The bride and groom normally leave first (announced by the best man).

Job done!!