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6 Wedding Speech Mistakes

Posted By: Stephen James

Being a close-up magician I perform at a LOT of weddings, sometimes 4 in the same week. The speeches are usually a time for me to have a break from performing, or to sit back and be entertained by the best man telling embarrassing stories about the groom.

When planning weddings, couples don't often realise there are a few mistakes they can easily avoid which will greatly help one of the most anticipated moments of the day. Here are the 6 wedding speech mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1: The Time Of Speeches

For the sake of the food cravings of your guests it is good to avoid having the speeches before the main meal. Hungry guests are restless during speeches and want speaker to finish quickly so they get fed. This makes it harder for the person speaking as they can often sense this vibe in the audience, fed people are much more receptive. The only exception to this rule would be when one of the speakers has severe nerves, in this situation the couple will sometimes have the speeches before the meal so the speaker can enjoy the meal rather than it being a time for the nerves to build.

Mistake 2: Poor Audio

Some venues have no speaker system or one that is not fit for purpose. It's a shame when the people on the back table can't hear the story about the groom getting his chest and eyebrows waxed while on the stag weekend. As a side note the groom should always have the stag weekend a few months before the wedding so any removed hair can grow back, photos look better when eyebrows are present. Anyway, it's wise to check the venues sound system is sufficient for everyone to hear, and if not you can always make alternative PA arrangements.

Mistake 3: Looong Speeches

It it best to give each speaker a STRICT time limit of 10 minutes. People have a short attention span and three speeches lasting this time will total 30 minutes, which is just right for the audience (there is a reason TED talks are 18 minutes). Make sure each speaker has practiced their speech and checked the timings. In addition to keeping the day on schedule, a strict time limit should force the speakers to be more concise and focus on the gold material, less is more!

Mistake 4: Untested Speeches

Very important for the best man! There are at least two categories of people in the audience, friends of the couple and families of the couple. Test the speech on one person from each of these categories. Testing the speech helps you assess the running time, responses to jokes, make improvements and most importantly warns you to remove any really bad faux pas. Make sure the people you test it on are ones who will be brutally honest. I have been at weddings where the best man has been told off by the bride for the speech content, you really don't want that kind of drama on a wedding day.

Mistake 5: Extras In Speeches

Remember people have short attention spans, if there are videos messages to play do it at a separate time from the speeches. I would suggest you avoid adding flip charts and powerpoint presentations to your speech, the person speaking usually thinks this will add something but 90% of the time makes the speech dull as the person waffles through a presentation. If you are in the 10% where this approach works well, then you will know this by testing it first and seeing what feedback you get (see 4).

Mistake 6: Not Having A Magician

This is a shameless plug for my services. When I perform table-to-table at wedding I do things like pushing wine bottles through the table and setting fire to things. This invariable leads to audible reactions such as cheering, screams (the good kind) and laughter. When guests hear these audible reactions from other tables it creates a very positive atmosphere in the room and people get excited waiting for the magician to come to them. This gets the speeches off to a great start as the the crowd is in very high spirits from having seen the magic performed. Think of the magician as a warm up act before the speeches.

At most weddings I go to the speeches are a very special time for people. I have heard amazing speeches that have not followed all these tips, so the advice here is just general thoughts and not definitive, but I hope they are useful as you plan for your big day.

If you would like me to entertain your guests at the tables to warm them up before the speeches then please click here to request a quote.

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