Wedding Speech Dos and Don’ts

Wedding Speech Dos and Don’ts

Whilst being asked to deliver the all-important wedding speech is, of course, an enormous honour, it can also be unbelieveably stressful. What if you’re not interesting enough? Optimistic enough? Funny enough? Poignant enough?

The good news is that severe public-speech-related jitters are incredibly common- studies have shown that public speaking is the top reported fear among adults, even beating out death itself. Bizarre. But a great wedding speech doesn’t have to be the cause of anxiety. Just follow these simple sets of ‘dos and don’ts’ for a fail-safe speech that will absolutely delight the bride and groom.


Plan your speech. A certain amount of spontaneity is definitely allowed, and you certainly don’t have to write your speech out word-for-word, but you do want to have all of the main points and examples planned out in your head. Before the big day, practice your speech for a friend to make sure you’re comfortable. Wedding photographers everywhere will tell you that some of these spontaneous moments provide some of the most lasting and memorable pictures in your wedding album.


Drink too much before your speech! At most wedding receptions there’s usually no shortage of alcohol – which can seem like a quick and easy way to calm your nerves; however, this method doesn’t usually end well. Have a social drink if it’s appropriate, but save any “heavier” drinking for after you’ve put down the microphone.


Introduce yourself to the audience. Remember that there’s likely a large group of attendees who have no idea who you are. Avoid the temptation to jump right into the body of your speech, and take a second to mention your name, and relationship to the bride and/or groom.


Tell embarrassing stories. Especially if you’ve known the bride or groom for a very long time, you might be tempted to wax nostalgic about the time the groom ended up locked out of his apartment, completely naked – but these stories aren’t usually received as well as they’re meant. Save the embarrassing anecdotes for private conversations, not for the stage.


Keep it brief. Considering how much you’ve likely sweated over your speech, it can be difficult to remember that it’s actually not the main event at the wedding reception. Also remember that time feels different when you’re under pressure; so your experience at the microphone might not accurately reflect the experience of a listener. When in doubt, shorter is always better.


Tell inside jokes or ‘you had to be there’ stories. The fact that you’re speaking at the wedding means you likely have a particularly close relationship to the bride, groom, or both. It’s wonderful to make your speech personal, and direct it to the wedded couple; just make sure it’s not so peppered with inside references that it’s not understandable to the rest of the wedding guests.


Make eye contact, and broadcast your voice. This is particularly important if you’re at a formal wedding, where the wedding party is seated separately. Look around the room, and make eye contact with other guests – not just the bride and groom. Although in your speech you might be speaking directly to the bride or groom, e.g. “I remember when we would sit around fantisizing about our dream weddings…” it’s important to acknowledge the other guests.


Mention past loves or old flames. Although this should go without saying, it’s a surprisingly frequent occurrence. The wedding speech isn’t the time to bring up the bride’s old boyfriend – keep your speech narrowly focused on the couple.


Include both the bride and the groom in your speech. If you have a particularly close relationship with either the bride or the groom, it’s easy to give a speech that’s unfairly one-sided. As much as possible, give equal attention to both the bride and groom.


Let your emotions run wild. Weddings are incredibly moving events, and during the very best speeches it’s perfectly acceptable to shed a quiet tear of joy or two; but remember that there’s a fine line between a tastefully authentic speech and a blubbering mess.


End the speech with the customary toast. Keep the toast itself short and classy. Wish the bride and groom love, luck, and happiness in their new life together, raise your glass, and bring the speech to an end.

In short, when being asked to prepare a wedding speech, make sure to keep some if not all these points in mind; they could just make a difference between an awkward and a great and lasting wedding speech that will be talked about not only that day, but for years to come. Oh and just one more piece of advice: Do remember to have fun with it, after all, it is a wedding!

*In case this isnt clear, this is meant to be read in as sarcastic a tone as one can possibly manage, depending on your particular vocal range.


Wedding Celebrant FAQs

Wedding Celebrant FAQs

(Courtesy greenweddingshoes.com)

What does a celebrant do?

A wedding celebrant takes care of all of the legal requirements for your wedding. They communicate with the government departments and obtain and submit all of the necessary paperwork on your behalf. A celebrant also facilitates your wedding ceremony and helps to make sure things run smoothly on the day. They may also recommend other services to you such as local florists and caterers.

What is the difference between a minister and a celebrant?

A minister or priest is a religious leader and will usually perform weddings in their church and include religious wordings in the ceremony. A celebrant is a civil servant who can legally marry couples in a number of venues and is able to customise the ceremony to suit the needs and style of the couple.

How should we choose our celebrant?

Meet a few celebrants until you find someone who you both feel comfortable with. A celebrant who suits your style, personalities and understands your ceremony desires will work well with you and make the day more enjoyable for everyone. Basically, when you find someone who has the qualities you admire in a friend, you have probably found the perfect celebrant for your big day. For more information, check out this comprehensive article.

Can a friend or family member marry us?

If they are a legal minister or celebrant, yes. If not, your celebrant may be willing to work with you so that they perform all of the legal requirements, wordings and signing registry and then oversee your friend or family member facilitating the vows and ring exchange.

When should we start looking for a celebrant?

Don’t leave celebrant shopping to the last minute. Start looking as soon as you have set a wedding date. Meet with a few celebrants before deciding on the one you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind that popular celebrants book up fast. If you can, start meeting celebrants up to 12 months before the wedding. At the very least, you will need one month to notify the attorney general’s office of your “intent to marry” so make sure to find a celebrant more than one month before your wedding day.

How much of the budget should we spend on the celebrant?

Seeing as there is no marriage if there is no celebrant, budget priority should be given to the celebrant’s fee. The celebrant’s fee should come first and foremost and then the rest of the budget can be broken down from there.

How much should we expect to pay for a celebrant?

Celebrants charge anywhere from $150 to $850 but the fee doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of service. Shop around until you find a celebrant you are comfortable with. You may find that a cheaper celebrant suits your needs better than a more expensive one.

Do we need to pay for the whole celebrant’s fee up front?

Most celebrants do not require the entire fee to be paid up front. Most ask for a deposit of between 20% and 50% during the initial consultation.

After paying the deposit, when should we pay the rest of the celebrant’s fee?

Some couples choose to pay the remaining amount of the celebrant’s fee on the day of their wedding. However, this can become tricky, and awkward, as your mind will likely be on other things that day. It’s a good idea to pay the remaining amount at the rehearsal dinner. That way, you don’t have to worry about it slipping your mind and you can focus on the important things.

What services are included in the celebrant’s fee?

Most celebrants will meet with the couple a few times. There is the initial consultation and then two or more meetings to discuss the ceremony, legalities and to answer any questions that the bride and groom might have. The celebrant’s fee includes the time involved in these meetings and filing the necessary paperwork. Many celebrants also provide a PA system, signing table and stationery to use on the day of the wedding. These items may be included in the price or may include a separate fee.

How long should the ceremony be?

Most ceremonies are between 20 and 30 minutes but this is up to you. Couples who have particularly musical friends sometimes invite their friends to perform a suitable song at the ceremony, which obviously extends the length of the ceremony. However, most guests prefer short and sweet ceremonies. You can party the time away with your friends and family at the reception.

Is there a certain wedding program that we need to follow during the ceremony?

There are some parts of the ceremony which cannot be changed, for legal reasons. If you choose to be married by a minister, there are additional parts of the ceremony which the minister likely will not change. However, much of the ceremony is customisable. Your celebrant can discuss options with you and provide samples which you can pick and choose between to create a ceremony program which suits your personalities and preferences.

What aspects of the ceremony do we need to discuss with the celebrant beforehand?

Your vows and the legal wording of the ceremony are of utmost importance but there are many other details that are also important to discuss to make sure that your day runs smoothly. You will be able to iron out most of the ceremony wrinkles and ask questions during the rehearsal but it is also a good idea to make sure that the photographers and ushers are clear on the celebrant’s expectations. You may have seen the recent viral video where the photographers and minister began arguing during the ceremony. This is the last thing you want at your wedding. Camera flashes and clicks can be distracting and interfere with the PA system so make sure to clearly define areas where the photographers can and cannot shoot from, as well as times during the ceremony when photography may not be appropriate.

Who can be our witnesses?

You will need two witnesses to sign your wedding papers at the ceremony, to make your marriage legal. The two witnesses can be any two adults (over the age of 18) except the celebrant.


Wedding Celebrant Glossary

Wedding Celebrant Glossary

(Courtesy stylemepretty.com)

Church wedding: a wedding ceremony which is performed in a place of worship, by a religious minister.

Civil celebrant: a civil celebrant is a person, outside of the church, who is legally able to marry couples and facilitate wedding ceremonies. A civil celebrant can perform wedding ceremonies in almost any location.

Intent to Marry: a form which must be submitted to the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages, at least 30 days prior to the wedding.

Interfaith Ceremony: a wedding between a couple from different faith backgrounds, which may be difficult to facilitate in a church. A civil celebrant can flexibly work with the couple to incorporate aspects of both faiths into the ceremony.

Legal Wordings: the words which must be spoken by the celebrant, prior to the vows being spoken, to make the marriage legal. There are certain words which must also be spoken by the bride and groom as they exchange vows, to make the marriage legally binding.

Minister: a religious leader who is able to legally marry couples and facilitate wedding ceremonies. Ministers usually include religious wordings during the ceremony and may only perform ceremonies inside their church or place of worship.

Readings: vows which are customised to suit the personality and style of the bride and groom.

Rites: the formal vows, wordings and prayers usually set aside for Catholic wedding ceremonies.

Rituals: the formal parts of the ceremony which include the legal wordings.

Rehearsal: a practice run of the ceremony, usually done the night before the wedding. This is the time to iron out any wrinkles in the service and answer any questions that the wedding party might have. Rehearsals are also a good time to pay the remaining amount of the celebrant’s fee.

Ring exchange: the point in the ceremony, after the vows, where the bride and groom give each other their wedding rings.

Signing registry: the final paperwork which legally states that the bride and groom are married. This paperwork needs to be signed at the ceremony by the bride, groom, celebrant and two witnesses.

Vows: the speech which the bride and groom say to each other, stating their commitment to one another.

Witnesses: two adults who sign the wedding registry, confirming that they witnessed the couple get married in a legal wedding ceremony.


Marriage Celebrant Checklist

Marriage Celebrant Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just invite all of our loved ones to our big day, rock up at the venue, kiss to seal the deal, and live happily ever after? The other elements of your wedding can, by all means, be a fairy-tale. Unfortunately, in the real world, a kiss does not fulfil the legal requirements of marriage.

Enter: wedding celebrant. A celebrant is like the fairy godmother of legalities and paperwork. Without a celebrant, there is, essentially, no marriage. Your celebrant will not only arrange all of that fiddly paperwork for you, they will also conduct the ceremony and, hopefully, add a unique element to your special day.

(Courtesy serviceseeking.com.au)

With a bit of research and time management (this guideline should help you, in that respect), you can find a celebrant who will, not only, perform all of the legal duties of the ceremony, but will also provide marriage insight, mesh well with you and your partner’s personalities, and perhaps even become a friend.

One Year to Go

• If you’re planning on getting hitched during peak season, it would be a wise idea to start meeting with celebrants now.

6 Months

• If you haven’t already, start consulting celebrants. When ‘shopping’ for a celebrant, try to find someone who you feel comfortable with, has received plenty of positive testimonials from previous clients, and who understands your vision for the ceremony.

• For those brides who have their heart set on a particularly reputable celebrant, now is the time to book and put down your deposit for their services. Popular celebrants book up fast, especially during peak season.

3 Months

• Put down that deposit, girl! If you haven’t chosen a celebrant by now, what are you waiting for?

2 Months

• It’s a good idea to sit down with your celebrant for another consultation, and to sign your “intent to marry” paper work. Use this consultation to make sure that you are all on the same page. This is also a good time to finalise plans for a P.A. system – your celebrant may provide it, or you might have to hire one yourselves.

1 Month

• Your “intent to marry” paperwork needs to be submitted to the attorney-general’s office at least one month in advance. Give your celebrant a quick call to check in and make sure that they have submitted the document on time. This isn’t madatory for the celebrant to do, so the onus is on you to check that your celebrant will be submitting the document for you.  On the other hand, if your paperwork has been submitted, kindly move onto the next step.

1 Week

• Couples who have decided to write their own vows need to finalise them now. Check in with your honey and make sure that he has finished writing his (you know what he can be like).

The Day Before

• Go through the ceremony program at the rehearsal and iron out any wrinkles with your celebrant.

• Pay the remaining celebrant’s fee at the rehearsal. That is, if your celebrant is willing to accept the remaining balance at this time.

• In the event that your celebrant wants the remaining balance on W-day (or that you are afraid that your celebrant will run off with the cash and leave you stranded at the aisle), arrange for the best man to pay the remaining balance to the celebrant at the end of the ceremony.

The Big Day

• Smile and don’t forget to breathe. If you find yourself overcome with emotion and can’t remember what to do or say next, follow your celebrant’s cues – he/she is a pro at this, and will endeavour to keep you from making a fool of yourself.


Not So Simple: Standing Positions During Your Ceremony

Not So Simple: Standing Positions During Your Ceremony

There are so many finer details that matter when it comes to planning your wedding, and one of these is where you, the groom and the bridal party stand. If you want the traditional – and some unorthodox – options, read on!

(Courtesy weddingchicks.com)

What you might not know is that there’s an interesting little tale behind this custom, and it goes way back to Anglo-Saxon England. To set the scene I should inform you that it was common practise for men to kidnap, and then marry women from neighbouring villages. To prevent this from happening, the fiancé would use his bravest and most fearless friend as a sort of bodyguard, who would fight off any jealous rivals until the couple wed. The friend is the modern-day best man, and because the groom was anticipating having to draw his sword with his right hand, and then fight, the bride would stand on his left so he wouldn’t accidentally wound her. One does wonder what happened to left-handed swordsmen, but I digress.

Christian Weddings

We’ve moved on from this decidedly more combative age, but this tradition has stubbornly remained. Perhaps modern brides like the idea that their grooms will fight to marry them – metaphorically of course!
The bridal couple face their marriage officiant, who stands behind the altar, and they have their backs to their guests. To the bride’s left is her maid of honour – within easy reach as she has to hold the bride’s bouquet and she’s the supplier of tissues – and then the other bridesmaids further left. To the groom’s right is his best man, with the other groomsmen further right. The bridesmaids and best men generally face the couple, but with a slight angle towards the guests.

Most weddings have a cute little ring bearer and adorable flower girls, and depending on their age, they can either stand with the bridal party or sit with their relatives. The bride’s friends and family are traditionally seated on the left, and the right is for the groom’s friends and family. The front few rows are reserved for parents (with the mothers next to the aisle), grandparents, other immediate family and special friends. Divorced parents can sit together, otherwise the father and his partner usually sit a few rows back, but of course this depends on the family and their situation.

(Courtesy jimbyrdphotography.com)

Jewish Weddings

That’s the norm at a Christian wedding, but if you go to a Jewish wedding you can expect the exact opposite: the bride is on the right of the groom, under the Chuppah – an open canopy supported by four poles. Both sets of parents walk their son or daughter down the aisle, and then stand alongside them. The bridesmaids and best men stand behind the parents, on their respective sides, in order from tallest to shortest.

(Courtesy junebugweddings.com)

Muslim Weddings

Islamic weddings can vary significantly but the most important event is the nikah ceremony. It’s a simply, quick service performed by an imam, that legally binds the bride and groom as husband and wife. In front of witnesses, the groom agrees to the bride’s mahr, or dowry, and the wedding contract is signed. If tradition is followed, men and women sit separately, in this case the bride’s wali, or guardian, acts on her behalf. The groom and his family will later host a walima, a lunch or dinner, to officially declare the marriage to friends and family.

(Courtesy shaadi-bazaar.com)

Military Weddings

Interestingly, if the groom is in the military, the bride stands on his right if he wears a sword, and to his left if he doesn’t.

Your Own Wedding

As weddings move from churches to forests, hotels to gardens and halls to beaches, the usual standing positions at ceremonies are being challenged. Like everything in a wedding, you can go along the conventional route, or you can throw tradition out with the bouquet. If you’re convinced that your left side is more photographic, or you just want to be different, by all means, switch sides and stand on the groom’s right. While it’s your wedding and you should be able to stand wherever you like, your religion might dictate otherwise, so it’s best to first check with your marriage officiant.

If you choose to have a celebrant marry you, they can stand anywhere. Here are some great, non-traditional options to consider:

– Between the couple and their guests. While his or her back is facing the crowd, any sound issues can be resolved with a microphone, and it allows everyone to see the smiling faces of the happy couple.
– The officiant and the bridal couple to stand sideways, so that the guests are seated on their right or left.
– You can have the officiant off to one side, so that you’re all at an angle, but remember that you want to see their reassuring smile or wink (and practically you need to be able to hear them!), so don’t be too far from the person conducting your ceremony.
Many grandparents will disagree, but it’s no longer customary for guests to sit on a particular side, they’re encouraged to mix. Here are a few unusual seating arrangements to contemplate:
– place your chairs in a circle with the bride and groom in the centre. This works best when you have plenty of space, like a beach, forest or garden wedding.
– If you like the idea of having your friends and family around you – but you’re short of space – use a semi-circle instead. This works particularly well if you have a focal point, such as getting married under a huge tree.
– An unusual and quite fun seating plan is a spiral, which gives everyone a chance to see a bride and groom walk in, and a husband and wife walk out.

There are no right or wrong answers to where you stand; you have to choose what best suits you, what works with your spirituality, and often the wishes of your family or partner. Whether you face them, have your back to them or stand alongside them, what is unlikely to change, is wanting your family close to you when you say your vows.