Dear Mary on wedding speeches


(c) The Spectator Australia
21 October 2017


Q. I went to a wedding in Suffolk last weekend. The timing was this: wedding 3 p.m., then a reception of canapes and champagne (with speeches) until dinner at 7 p.m., which was followed by dancing till midnight. The bride’s father’s speech was 45 minutes long and the groom’s 17 minutes. The best man spoke for around 20. Along with most of the other guests, I felt shattered by the time the speeches ended and full of champagne and canapes. My feeling is that, unless being delivered by someone hilarious, wedding speeches should be max ten minutes each. Is this too selfish a view? We had pounding headaches the next day.
— Name and address withheld

A. A better format would have been: wedding at 5 p.m. Drinks from 6 till 7.30, speeches during dinner. Speeches no more than ten minutes each — shorter if guests have to stand. Readers planning weddings might take a tip from Peregrine Armstrong-Jones of Bentleys Entertainment: “I think that five minutes per speech, or less if you wish — you can just make a toast as seen often at royal occasions — is the correct running time. Those who go over are not delivering a speech, which should be short, funny and respectful; they are delivering a lecture.”