Are you trawling the internet looking for justification for having a wedding with no speeches?
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
NEWSFLASH! It’s perfectly ok to have no speeches at your wedding if that’s what you want.
You’re feeling better about your upcoming wedding now, aren’t you?
We’ve been to thousands of weddings in our 15-year career as wedding photographers. Whilst it’s very true that most weddings feature a section of speeches there is no rule that says they’re required. In fact, there are a lot of alternatives we’ve seen that more than make up for the lack of speeches.
Equally, we’ve seen our fair share of inebriated speeches to tell you that it can sometimes be the best option to forego them. Yeah, we’re talking about the best man’s speech that went on for one whole hour. Let that sink in. One hour! We film it…all.
Anyway, the less said about that the better. In this article, we’re covering all things about weddings with no speeches. We’ll look at why people might want to skip this tradition, whether or not it’s socially acceptable, and give you our list of the alternatives to speeches.
So take a breath, chill out, you don’t have to do that dreaded speech if you don’t want to.
Why do people want a wedding with no speeches?
In our experience, there aren’t many people who actually want to do a wedding speech. The idea of speaking in front of a room of around 150 people is enough to fill most with dread. It’s usually a huge stressor for the groom and father of the bride throughout the day.
They’ll be clammy and nervous whenever it’s brought up, even more so than the first dance.
The best man, on the other hand, may relish his moment in the spotlight fancying himself as a bit of a comedian and lapping up the laughter. But this is also quite rare.
So if you’re thinking about having a wedding with no speeches, trust us, you’re not alone.
- Nerves: A fear of public speaking will be the number one reason most people want a wedding with no speeches. Forgoing this part of the day allows them to enjoy the biggest day of their lives stress-free.
- Time: Most of the weddings we’ve shot over the years would allow approximately one hour for all the speeches. This would of course vary depending on how much people had to say. However, by not having speeches the time can be used elsewhere and for doing things a couple may enjoy more.
- Experience of guests: Whilst some guests enjoy the speeches we often hear a common complaint “I couldn’t hear a word of those speeches”. Not having them means guests can mingle for longer or you can involve them in other ways.
- Breaking with tradition: Some people just like to go against the grain for their weddings and that’s perfectly ok in our book. They might want to prioritize other aspects of their day or come up with alternative and ingenious activities.
Who traditionally gives speeches at weddings?
We’ve spoken at length in one of our previous posts about who gives speeches at weddings. That article covers anyone who might get up to say a few words as well as some of the more modern speech givers.
However, traditionally there are three people that will be sweating buckets all day if they dread public speaking.
Let’s take a look at them in more detail and what they’re expected to say.
Father of the Bride
Usually, the first up is the father of the bride. He’ll typically be introduced by either the best man or by someone that’s been given that specific role. He will regale the audience with tales of his daughter growing up as well as giving thanks to the guests in attendance. He’ll also welcome the bride’s new husband or wife to the family and raise a toast to the happy couple.
Next up is the groom. He’s got to deliver a heartfelt speech expressing his undying love for his partner. No mean feat! When we made wedding videos we’d be relying on this to really drive the story of the video editing. Needless to say, most of the time they’d struggle to live up to the speeches you’ll have seen in rom-coms. The groom will also typically thank the guests as well as the parents, particularly if they’ve helped out financially.
“It’s been an emotional day, even the cake is in tiers” Laughter ensues. Except when you’ve heard that joke at 90% of weddings you’ve photographed. That being said, the best man’s job is to bring a bit of light-hearted fun to proceedings. It can even be a joint effort if the ushers get involved.
Does a groom have to give a speech?
Easy answer, NO!
There is no rule that says the groom has to do a speech. In fact, we’ve been to some weddings where the remainder of the speeches went ahead as normal. We’ve also had the bride do the speech rather than the groom. It’s 2023 for goodness sake, just do what feels right for you and your wedding.
Is it OK to not have speeches at a wedding?
In a similar vein to the groom not having to do a speech they can be skipped altogether.
Admittedly this hasn’t happened too often at weddings we’ve shot and we’ve been to A LOT!
However, it’s definitely acceptable and no one will be overly concerned. Particularly if you do some of the alternatives we’ll mention later.
At the end of the day, this is your wedding and you should do what makes you comfortable and happy.
If you’re going to be in a constant panic with nothing else on your mind apart from speaking in public then you should definitely skip them. This will allow you to enjoy the day as it’s intended to be, having the time of your life.
Is the bride supposed to give a speech at the wedding?
Traditionally the bride isn’t expected to do a speech. However, that’s increasingly becoming a bit outdated, the decision totally rests with the bride.
If she wants to do a speech she should do one. We’ve definitely seen this gaining traction in recent years and it gives them the same opportunities as the groom would have to express thanks to guests, their partner, and anyone they wish.
What can you do instead of speeches at a wedding?
So, you’re 100% clear in your mind, you’ll be having a wedding with no speeches? Good on you for breaking with tradition and putting yourselves first on the biggest day of your lives.
Hopefully, this decision will help you to relax and take some of the pressure off.
However, if you’re still looking for ways to thank guests, fill time, or just general alternatives, we’ve got a great list of suggestions for you.
Write down a message to your guests
Rather than getting up in front of everyone and delivering a speech why not think about writing your thoughts down? You can then leave this at the tables for your guests to peruse at their own leisure. You could do this as a generic letter thanking everyone or make each letter personal. If you wanted you could even do these as short thankyou notes to include with the wedding favors, it’s really up to you.
Film pre-recorded speeches
Are you fine in front of a camera but lose your nerve in public speaking? Well, pre-recording your speech could be a great option. This allows you to do multiple takes, edit your speech and review the footage. This way you’re more likely to notice if you’re waffling and will be able to get directly to the point. Make sure that your venue can facilitate this with a projector screen and speakers. You don’t want to have to change your plan at the last minute because you’ve failed to prepare.
Rather than doing a speech at all, you could think about creating a video montage/slideshow. This could just be displayed on a screen and on repeat throughout the wedding breakfast.
It’ll give your guests an opportunity to see photos from your time together as a couple. You could even add captions to add context to the photos. Guests can then ask you about your trip to Thailand or Europe as it’s a great conversation starter.
Play a same-day edit from the photographer
Some photographers offer same-day edit slideshows. These are highlights of the best photos from the day that are played back to all the guests during the wedding reception. You can also find videographers that do this for short videos set to music. This is a great alternative and also gives guests who might not have been at the ceremony a chance to see how the day unfolded.
Allow EmCee more freedom
If you don’t want to have speeches at your wedding it probably means you’re worried about public speaking. In that case, it can be a great idea to either hire or designate someone as the master of ceremonies. These people can guide the day and make any announcements that are necessary. You could even ask them to speak on your behalf to thank specific people at your wedding.
Something we’ve seen a lot of in recent years is singing waiters and this can be a great alternative to keep your guests entertained during the reception.
Try to keep it under wraps as best you can as the element of surprise is what really makes this work. They can easily fill an hour or two that would otherwise have been designated to the speeches. We’ve never seen a wedding guest that didn’t enjoy this particular part of the day. Especially when they get everyone doing the Conga at the end!
Gifts and thanks
Instead of having traditional speeches you could replace this by handing out gifts to your nearest and dearest. You could choose to say a few words but keep it super brief or have someone announce to whom you are giving the gifts on your behalf. This allows for people that mean the most to you to receive the gratitude they deserve and a brief moment in the spotlight.
Create a song or rap
Maybe you’re a singer or creative but just don’t like speaking in front of people. Well, you could come up with a song that perfectly sums up how you’re feeling.
You may feel more comfortable getting your words across in this format. At the same time, it can bring an element of fun and create an upbeat atmosphere for your wedding guests.
Read a poem
In a similar vein to the above suggestion, reading or creating your own poem could be the way to go. This can tell the story of how you met and could be something you duet with your partner.
A poem is a much less formal way to essentially deliver a speech. You can simply read it word for word, get your points across, and be done with it. It’s also something that will stay with your guests rather than you being a blubbering wreck trying to deliver a traditional speech.
Create a thank you board
When you’re going through your wedding stationery checklist you could think about including a thank you board.
This is something you can display at the reception that has handwritten notes from you and your partner. They can thank everyone for coming but you can also give special thanks to certain people. Perhaps Felicity helped bake the cake or John organized the stag do. Whatever it is, this is a great alternative to having wedding speeches.
Ask someone to read your speeches for you
Should you want to do a speech but lack the confidence to deliver it you could get someone to read it on your behalf. Make sure they practice it with you beforehand so that you can advise on the best way to deliver the lines. This takes the pressure off you somewhat and also off them. They’re just reading aloud your thoughts word for word which can make it less nerve-wracking for everyone.
Simply raise a toast
We’ve seen this many times. We’re all set up to record a 30-45 minute speech only for the groom to simply say “Thank you all for coming” , raise his glass and be done with.
One thing is for certain it gets right to the point and saves a lot of time. You could of course embellish it a little bit more but keeping it short and sweet separates it from a traditional speech.
It acknowledges your thanks to everyone whilst at the same time meaning you can get it over and done with in the snap of your fingers. Just warn your videographers beforehand haha.
Another popular option for weddings with no speeches is to do a quiz. This can be organized by someone who knows you well or you can do it yourselves.
You can ask questions about you as a couple, “Where did we first meet?”, “Where did Ryan propose?” things like that. This keeps your guests entertained whilst also providing a bit of competition to see how well your guests know you. You could get the maid of honor to read the questions or anyone you think is up to the role.
Spend longer on your photoshoot
Instead of worrying about having a wedding with no speeches try to look at the positives. It means you can spend roughly an extra hour getting gorgeous photos if you want. Speak to your wedding photographer and they’ll be very happy knowing they can spend longer getting creative with your images.
The final option is to just do nothing! Speeches aren’t required and if you don’t want to do anything as an alternative you don’t have to. Just make the most of the day and enjoy all the other aspects of it to their fullest.
Just mingle with your guests, enjoy the food, and get your groove on late into the night with your perfect dance moves.
So how do you feel about your wedding with no speeches now? We hope you’re ok with your decision and know that it won’t have too much influence on how much you enjoy your day.
At the same time, we think that some of our alternative suggestions to the traditional wedding day speech should provide you with inspiration and ways to get creative.
Your wedding is YOUR day so make sure to remember that. If your mind is made up don’t let anyone tell you any different. They aren’t the ones who have to suffer months of torment worrying about delivering a 20-minute speech in front of 150 guests, are they?!
Find what works for you and your personalities on your big day and you’ll be sure to make it a memorable one for years to come.