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?