Freedom of Speeches

I’ve always been slightly averse to speeches during weddings, particularly Punjabi weddings. Punjabis, like Lady Gaga, love to JUST DANCE at wedding receptions. Anything that delays bhangra blaring on the speakers or keeps the slightly intoxicated guests from leaping out of their seats and rushing the dance floor is met with contempt and down right dismissal. Speeches and speakers fare the worst. A bridesmaid could be in the midst of an emotional ode to the bride with tears streaming down her face, and 85% of the audience will not be listening. Not only will they ignore the speaker, but they will proceed to openly and loudly have their own discussions, questioning the purpose for the speech and why they must bear the agony of listening to a sobbing 25 year old girl discussing her relationship to the bride–cuz, honestly, they don’t give a crap. “Where’s the bhangra??” they wonder. Commonly, the guests’ conversational buzz is higher on the Richter scale then the speaker’s voice. Awkward.

My aversion also stems from over-empathizing with speakers. I often feel embarrassed for them–not only am I embarrassed for them because no one is listening, but also because speeches are often really unnatural…and painful. Yah yah, I’m judgmental, but seriously, has no one ever cringed at a groomsmen or bridesmaid stumbling through their speech and who is visibly terrified of public speaking?

Given my experiences at Punjabi weddings, J and I initially vowed to have only two speeches–me and J–to say thanks for coming, and now please eat lots, dance lots, and take advantage of the open bar. I think I’ve disappointed some people with this decision…but…yo, it’s our wedding and we call the shots!

Buut…I might be changing my tune. I attended my friend’s wedding yesterday, and it was lovely. There were over 400 guests, and quite a number of speeches. Surprisingly, people listened, and I didn’t feel awkward or embarrassed. Perhaps it’s because I knew the bride. Perhaps it’s because the speeches were short, yet sweet and often humorous. Perhaps it’s because there were maybe 5 Punjabis in the hall. Who knows??

Regardless, the speeches reminded me that weddings are about relationships, memories, and the future, and that the people we love are coming together to celebrate for all those reasons. Speeches offer the opportunity for our loved ones to express their emotions and experiences, and provide guests with further knowledge and insight into the couple, the families, and friends.

Nonetheless, I’m still not 100% sure if we’ll go with speeches. If we do,  I think we’ll operate under these parameters:

-No more than 4 speeches (including me and J as one speech)

-Choose speakers who are well known by a majority of the guests

-Choose speakers who are not afraid of public speaking (this is also to prevent people we love from feeling pressured or uncomfortable with speaking if they don’t want to)

-Request speeches to refrain from too many inside jokes–I find this can alienate guests and therefore encourage individual table conversations

Any other suggestions?




6 thoughts on “Freedom of Speeches

  1. Yes, I agree!
    I didn’t want speeches either but we ended up having 3 – MOH, best man and the bride & groom. MOH’s speech was from the heart and lovely, and the groom did a slideshow/speech combination which got people laughing.

    As long as they are 2-5 minutes, free of too many inside jokes as you said, and not a roast, they are tolerable.

    • That’s a good point–wedding speeches should not be roasts. It’s uncomfortable for everyone! The slideshow/speech combo is a great idea. It works really well, especially if you have a larger wedding.

  2. I gotta go with the fact that there were 5 punjabis in the room for a major factor as to why people listened. As a general rule, brown people don’t do well during speeches at weddings. I think their line of thinking is, there is no way that person up there deserves to have a whole room full of people listening to them anymore than I do. So I’ll just talk.

    I don’t like it when brides choose their brothers to speak and their brothers aren’t very good speakers and mumble in deep tones into the mic. Not cool. I think it goes back to the whole thing about choosing a good public speaker.

    • Definitely agree with you!! However, the wedding I went to was brown!! The bride and groom were not Punjabi, though. I also noticed that their families were somewhat more calm. My friend’s house was full on her mendhi, and though all the guests were happy, lively, and interactive, it wasn’t overwhelmingly loud and chaotic, like a lot of my family events!! I wonder if their families just had better attention spans. lol. It’s so interesting how within the South Asian community, every cultural/religious group has its unique personality.

      I also wonder if English comprehension played a factor in my friend’s wedding. At the ceremony, a large majority was conducted in English, and based on my observations, a large portion of the guests spoke English. In the Punjabi community, English is not as widely spoken. I’m thinking of the grandparents or even some immigrants who live and interact only in the Punjabi community–if there are 4 to 5 speeches that they don’t understand, they aren’t going to listen.

  3. Hi little brown bride. You’re right its your wedding and you call the shots =)

    What I did at my reception was have video speeches. So our bridal party spoke for a while on camera but the video team just edited it down to a 4 min video with captions, pics of us, video of us on a date etc. etc. We felt this kept the guest engaged and we got to laugh at the best parts and year or so later we can watch the full speeches w/o boring anyone else =)

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