When Is The Best Time For Wedding Speeches?

Speeches At The Beginning Or End Of The Wedding Breakfast?

Couples often ask my advice on what makes a really good wedding day.  And the question that I’m asked most often is, “When is the best time for wedding speeches? Should we do the speeches at the beginning or the end of the meal?”

Throughout my career as a professional magician, I’ve attended well over a thousand weddings and I’ve seen a LOT of speeches.

Now, there are many details that I think should be left to the personal whims of the happy couple.  I’m sorry to say that the timing of the speeches isn’t one of them.  Even though it seems just a small detail, the point at which you make your speeches can make a HUGE impact on your big day.

So what is the best time for wedding speeches? Let’s look at why speeches are traditionally made after the meal and why people sometimes break with convention?

A wedding speech

You get the best reactions by performing speeches at the right time.

Can’t I Enjoy The Meal Too?

So, you’ve planned your delicious wedding breakfast and you really want to enjoy it. The only thing that’s preventing you is the looming fear of performing your speech at the end of the meal.

There are very few people who genuinely enjoy speaking in public. In fact, if you type “top ten fears” into Google, you’ll find that public speaking usually appears within the top five.

So, doesn’t it make good sense to perform the speeches at the beginning of the meal?  That way, the speakers can relax and enjoy the festivities too.

Hold on a second, because it might be a bit more complicated than that. Here are a few things to consider before you decide.

Before-Dinner Speakers?

Have you ever noticed that, although many people make their livings as after-dinner speakers, you’ll never see an advert for “before-dinner speakers”. Why is that?

Ask any professional speaker about the slot before the meal, and they’ll tell you that it’s known as “the graveyard shift”.  The part of the day when all that everyone is focussed on is filling their rumbling tummies.  The Last thing that people want to do at this point is listen to speeches.

If you’re genuinely worried about your speech, you’ll want the most receptive audience possible. So you have the choice of performing to a “dry” hungry crowd before the meal, or a full “merry” crowd after the meal.  From a performer’s perspective the best time for wedding speeches will be at the end of the meal.

(Just as an aside, if you’d like to have your crowd properly warmed up before the speeches, check out my Wedding Emcee page.  All the best performers use a warm-up man!)

Back to the main event, here’s something else that you may not have considered…

What Type Of Wedding Day Are You Planning?

Most couples want their guests to enjoy a drink on their big day… and most guests know their limits.  But, of course, sometimes the occasional guest might overdo it… and this can put a bit of downer on the day.  So, why am I mentioning this here?

By arranging your speeches at the beginning of the meal, your thirsty guests have the perfect opportunity for thirty minutes of drinking on empty-stomachs.  It’s a small matter to consider but it can set the tone for a really messy day.

If you really can’t hold off from the speeches until the end, then consider speaking to your venue about making sure that the tables aren’t groaning under the weight of fine wines until afterwards.

The Catering

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve attended a LOT of weddings.  In all that time, I’ve rarely listened to speeches that haven’t overrun by at least a few minutes. (I once had the dubious pleasure of listening to a best man’s speech that overran by over an hour. I kid you not!)

Now, for me, that’s inconvenient. For the caterer’s, it could be a disaster!

Fine dining on a large scale needs precision timing.  Speeches that significantly overrun at the beginning of the meal can mean that ALL your courses could be ruined.

By now, you’ll have gathered that I’m not a fan of early speeches.  But if you really can’t bring yourself to do them at the end, it’s imperative that give your speakers an ABSOLUTE time deadline.  (As a rule of thumb, seven minutes is considered the ideal length for a wedding speech.) Fail to do this and you run the real risk of ruining your wonderful meal.

A beautiful wedding table setting

Speeches at the right time will help YOU to relax.

But I REALLY hate public speaking!

Even as a professional entertainer, when it came to making my own wedding speech, I have to admit that I was pretty nervous. (When people know that you perform for a living they have high expectations … and I hate that!)

But, of all the things that people said to me beforehand, a comment from may father-in-law stuck with me the most. He said, “Simon, no matter how many speeches you do in your life, you’ll never have more people on your side than at your own wedding. So just suck it up and get on with it!”  And that sounds like good advice to me!

So, I hope you find that little pearl of wisdom as useful as I did and that this article has  helped you decide the best time for wedding speeches on your big day.

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