By: Rob Franklin
Why Do Couples Opt for an Open-Mic at their Wedding?
Generally speaking, couples opt for an open-mic at their wedding because they want anyone in their community who feels moved to speak to do so, offering a loving anecdote or well-wishes. Some may also believe that the premise of an open-mic encourages guests to speak with more authenticity and feeling.
That said, the low-stakes atmosphere doesn’t need to come at the expense of quality. Open mic wedding speeches may run the risk of being disorganized and over-long: an endless stream of semi-coherent thoughts offered by an increasingly inebriated group of loved ones.
So if you're considering speaking at a wedding open-mic, it's important to weigh the pros and cons and decide if it's the right choice for you. And if you decide that it is, you should still prepare and practice a speech that feels worthy of the occasion (here, we can help with Provenance's Toast Builder)!
Should You Speak At the Wedding Open Mic?
Maybe you were forewarned that there’d be an open-mic at the wedding, or maybe you’re literally at the reception right now and reading this in a bathroom stall, deciding whether to speak and what to say (we’ve been there tbh). Regardless, you should consider the following to decide if it makes sense for you to speak.
- Are you in the wedding party or an immediate family member of the couple? If you're in the couple's inner circle, they may expect you to offer a toast, even if it's brief. You can also check with others in a similar position (for instance, other siblings or close friends) to see if they're planning to speak.
- Consider the couple's feelings. Would the couple feel disappointed if you chose not to speak? Even if you don't have an official role in the wedding, consider the couple’s feelings to help determine whether or not to speak.
- Consider your own feelings. Is the prospect of speaking at the wedding mildly unpleasant or absolutely terrifying? If it's the latter, it may be best to sit this one out in the interest of preserving your mental health. Hopefully you can have an honest conversation with the couple beforehand and express that it’s not for you. Probably, they’ll totally get it — they know you after all. And you can express your feelings in a way that’s more your style, anything from a handwritten letter, to a gift, to a home cooked meal.
How to Deliver a Great Open-Mic Wedding Speech
Okay, cool. So you’ve decided to speak. Ideally, you have at least a few weeks to prepare. Use them! Arriving with a few bullet points, at the very least, will keep you from freezing up, rambling, or any of the other open mic liabilities.
In drafting your wedding speech, you should keep a few key considerations in mind.
- Include 2 - 3 Stories in Your Speech: stories are the raw material, the bricks, that will make your speech memorable and engaging. Brainstorm your favorite stories about the friend or family member getting married, then try to select two or three that best capture the essence of who they are and what you love about them.
- Strive for Tonal Balance: While it’s great to get a big laugh, it’s important to remember that this isn’t your comedy special! Try to achieve a balance between levity and sentiment in your speech, even as you play to your strengths.
- Be Sure to Mention or Address Both Partners: While you may be closer to one partner than the other, it’s important to speak about / to both in your speech. This functions as a kind of formal welcome of their partner into your friend or family member’s community, and may be incredibly meaningful to them as a result.
- Offer a Thematic Takeaway: If the stories are the bricks, these themes are the mortar. They should structure the speech by tying the stories together and leading towards a larger takeaway or resolution at the end of the speech.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Once you’ve drafted your speech, be sure to practice a few times to work out any kinks and make the edits necessary. We recommend recording yourself and practicing at least once in the clothes you’ll wear on the big day so that you arrive feeling comfortable, prepared and polished.
See these links for comprehensive guides to writing a Best Man or Maid of Honor speech
And if you’re making a game-time decision…
It’s time to think swiftly. Here are some tips to help you deliver a meaningful and memorable speech off the cuff:
- Choose a takeaway or end note for your speech. Think about the central message you want to express to the couple, the thing they most need and want to hear from you today. Perhaps that’s just a congratulations; perhaps it’s a piece of advice based on your own experience of romantic love.
- Keep your speech short and sweet. With an open-mic wedding, you can assume that many guests will choose to speak. And once one person goes on and on for five minutes, everyone else will assume it’s okay for them to do the same. So keep your speech tight, one to two minutes, to avoid overloading the couple or encouraging that vicious cycle.
- Tell one great story. When you think of the couple, or whichever member you’re closer to, is there a single story that captures their essence, and relates organically to your key takeaway. You can tell that story (an observation, a memory, a moment of quiet kindness) to open your speech, adding the personal touch that makes a speech memorable.
- Use The Provenance Toast Builder. Answer a few questions and you'll have the first draft of your speech generated, without the stress.
Remember that Confidence is Key
More than anything, it’s important to remember that confidence is crucial to successfully delivering a wedding speech, improvised or not. Be assured that some of the speakers will wing it completely, so even minimal preparation — honing a central message and one great story to tell — will bring you leagues closer to delivering an impactful speech.
As with all forms of improvisation, a flexible, “yes and” attitude will bolster your confidence and help you deliver a heartfelt speech that the couple will cherish forever.