Weddings

Is it finally considered normal for brides to take the mic at their wedding?

Meghan Markle’s set to give a speech at her wedding – but she’s not the only one bucking tradition...

By Lorna Gray

Well, ding-dong – the wedding bells of progress are well and truly ringing. Your imaginary pal/Princess-in-waiting Meghan Markle is apparently giving a speech at her own wedding but we can't say we're surprised by this refreshingly modern decision.

Megs has made some killer speeches in the past so why wouldn't she want to speak on the biggest day of her life? She also recently confirmed what we all knew to be true about Prince Harry – he's a feminist (as well as bona fide bae...). And presumably all for ditching this ancient conformity.

Wedding speechwriter and founder of Write It For Me, Anita Stevens, says while she's definitely seeing an uplift of maid of honour speeches, not so many brides appear to want to speak. And surprisingly, a recent survey in the UK found that only 16% of those surveyed thought the bride should give a speech at her wedding. So, will we see the 'Meghan Effect' come into play when it comes to speech-giving?

We spoke to some of the brides turfing tradition and taking control of the mic at their wedding. While it might not be everyone - i.e those of us who're shit scared of public speaking - it's definitely becoming a consideration in the modern wedding landscape.

Emily: Brides shouldn't be expected to sit silently

Emily giving a speech during her wedding.
Emily giving a speech during her wedding.

"Four men gave speeches at my wedding - my husband, my father, my father-in-law and the best man.

"I decided in advance that was going to be far too much male mic time, so I asked my maid of honour to do a speech too, and I also said a few words."

Emily's maid of honour in action.
Emily's maid of honour in action.

"Every wedding seems to have the same format when it comes to speeches - the men do all the talking while the bride and bridesmaids sit there silently and smile politely as people raise a toast and cheers to 'how beautiful they're looking'. Come on, we're so much more than that! [Editor's note: Hear, hear!]

"I'm not saying every bride should feel the pressure to get up and say something, but they certainly shouldn't let tradition hold them back."

Helen: It was a tiny blow against the patriarchy

"My husband didn't want to give a speech (not his thing, would have been in his second language etc) and I felt one of us should... I am not a huge fan of public speaking but liked the idea of a tiny blow against the patriarchy. It was nice to do something a bit differently even if it was just a small part of the day which was very traditional overall."

Jess - People had done so much for me

Jess on her wedding day.
Jess on her wedding day.

"I gave a speech at my wedding last year because I wanted to give a few words from my perspective. Throughout the planning process everyone did so much for me, especially my parents, maid of honour (my sister) and my other two bridesmaids. I felt strongly that I wanted to thank them personally in front of all our guests.

"I also wanted to say a few words about my new husband - how we'd met and our lives together, as well as thanking my new in-laws for everything.

"I didn't write the speech until a few days before the wedding but I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to say."

"It was nerve-wracking standing up in front of everyone - my hands were shaking! But I was fine when I got started and it was such a nice feeling to have the chance to say those words in front of everyone we love. It made the speeches even more special and exciting.

"I think some guests may have thought it a little strange when I first stood up, however I had such a wonderful response and everyone said how lovely it was to hear things from my point of view. Lots of my friends couldn't believe I spoke in front of so many people and were really impressed! I am so glad I did it."

Aisling: I wanted people to hear about my husband from me

"Making a speech when all of my loved ones are in the same room made complete sense. I've always thought it was unusual that only the men were traditionally heard from at weddings so I made sure both myself and one of my bridesmaids got a chance to speak. I wanted to thank everyone for their support and love, but I also wanted to speak about my new husband in a completely positive and loving way - something that the best man doesn't usually do. It was an amazing moment and I'll be forever glad I did it."

Tips for brides for delivering a killer wedding speech

Speechwriter Anita Stevens says you're already at an advantage being the bride.

Expectations

There are no set rules or formal etiquette for the bride's speech so you don't have to worry about living up to any expectations. BUT like any speech, make sure it still has structure i.e. a clear beginning, middle and end.

Content

Go big on the Thank You's. Give an extra special mention to those who travelled a long way to be a part of your big day and helped with the preparations. Don't forget to cross check your list with your partner to make sure you're not duplicating.

Don't forget to acknowledge important people in your life who couldn't be there – either because they have passed or they can't be there for some other reason. For example, maybe your grandma, who played a huge role in your life, couldn't travel for health reasons but deserves a mention anyway. Remember we live in the age of video and online so she can always watch it later!

Give your in-laws some love

Your family just got bigger so it's really important you take a few moments to thank your in-laws for welcoming you and tell them how happy you are to join their family. Don't forget Mum and Dad - You are who you are today because of them so make sure you tell them how important they are and thank them for their love and support throughout the years. Feel free to share a funny story about what a handful you were growing up and what they had to put up with all these years.

This is your chance to make your partner feel extra special

Tell your guests the story of how you met, first impressions, and when you knew they were "The One." This is another opportunity to add a humourous story or observation about him or a funny courtship story if you have one. Don't forget to tell them how lucky you feel and how excited you are to start your new life together.

End with a toast

Don't forget to raise your glass and toast! For brides, I usually suggest toasting to their new hubby/wife.

Remember, it's absolutely your choice. If you want to just kick back and let others say a few words, then that's ok too! Do what feels most comfortable for you.