For most people, being assigned to give a wedding speech is a nerve-wracking experience. Even the most prepared and experienced speakers might sweat at the thought of hopping up in front of wedding guests and attempting to do the newlyweds justice with just a few enlightening sentences. With all that pressure, wedding speeches have a tendency to go haywire. Thanks to alcohol, anxiety, or attention, it’s easy for people to end up rambling or mumbling the rest of their speech. Keep your wedding speeches and your reception on track. Here’s how to gracefully cut off a wedding speech when it starts to go overboard.
Wedding speeches should be short, sweet, and always focused on the newlyweds. Obviously, the style of the speech should be tailored to whoever has the honor of speaking. If the best man is a jokester then expect lots of laughs. However, there are a few symptoms of a speech heading south.
Now that you know when to stop a wedding speech, let’s talk about how to stop a wedding speech—with as much tact as possible.
Your first attempt to halt a rambling speech should include a signal to the speaker from the back of the room with your hand. This is the least disruptive way to get their attention without getting the audience’s attention. In fact, if the speaker knows that they’re going to be giving a speech, let them know ahead of time that you’ll be giving them a signal when it’s time to wrap up the speech. Blame it on wanting to keep the reception moving so the couple can celebrate and get dancing.
Sometimes a hand signal just doesn’t get the right message across and it’s time to physically interrupt someone’s speech. Interrupting anyone who is speaking can feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. We’re taught to not interrupt so this behavior can feel backward.
When someone’s speech starts going south, make sure to pay close attention to timing. Don’t just jump in while they’re mid-sentence. That will only embarrass them and draw attention to the fact that they were struggling with their speech. Try to wait until there’s a natural lull in their speech like a pause or a moment of brief applause.
To ease awkwardness as much as possible, try blaming time and the tight wedding schedule for cutting someone’s speech short. Apologize for cutting them off and be as warm as possible so that the person (and honestly, the audience too) doesn’t feel like anything went wrong. Smooth sailing, folks! It’s all about illusion.
When you do have to stop someone mid-speech, make sure to exhibit all your manners! Be as polite as possible. If there is just one thing you do when interrupting a rambling speech, it’s to thank the person for their kind words. Then focus the audience’s attention back onto the newlyweds.
You may not feel like the right person to cut off one of the bride’s family members or one of the couple’s close friends. That makes sense. It could dad who gets too long-winded, after all. Who stops the speech can be just as important as how the speech is stopped. Here are some people you can count on to help.
Rambling wedding speeches may be a bit uncomfortable and awkward but in all honesty, they’re miniscule compared to everything else that can go haywire or “wrong” during a wedding. As long as you’re polite but assertive, you can smoothly regain control over any wedding speech mishap!