How do you ask your family and friends if they would like to give toasts at your wedding without pressuring them into it?
There are a few people who I’d like to give toasts and readings at my wedding but I’m worried if I – the bride – ask them, they’ll feel obligated to do it, even if they don’t want to.
I’d especially love my mum to give a speech on the day but I don’t know how comfortable she’d be doing it. She’s been nervous doing public speaking before and I hate the thought of her spending the day worrying about the speech instead of enjoying herself, but I know she’ll feel she has to say yes if I ask her.
While I could ask someone else, it’s really the only part of the day she could be involved with, since she’s not giving me away. I don’t want her to feel left out and I’m really torn on what to do.
Oof. This is something I struggled with when I was planning my wedding, too.
Your friends and family don’t want to let you down, especially at a big event like a wedding. They might not feel they can say no to you.
If you’re asking them to be involved in things like the wedding party, ceremony readings, and toasts at the reception – tasks usually given to the couple’s nearest and dearest – they might even worry they’d insult you by saying no. Asking someone to be involved in your wedding day is a symbol of a close relationship; people might worry how that would survive a rejection.
The best thing to do to make it clear that you won’t be hurt if they say no is… make it clear you won’t be hurt if they say no.
Lead with it. Before you mention anything about giving a speech, tell them you don’t want them to do anything they’re not comfortable with. Make it clear that you’re just excited to have them at your wedding and if they’d rather chill out, you won’t mind.
No matter how much you reassure them, though, talking about this in-person will always put pressure on the conversation; they need to answer you then and there, and – no matter how they really feel about it, which they won’t have a huge chance to explore – they might feel they need to say yes.
If you’re worried that, no matter how you say it, your mother will feel she has to say yes, I’d recommend not saying it. Write it, instead.
Wedding party proposal cards are cards you write, asking someone to be involved in your day. They’re perfect for laying out all of the things you need someone to do, so there are clear expectations; it gives you space to mention what giving a speech would look like and it gives your friend time to think about it and get back to you. Or to tactfully ignore it, if it’s not for them.
You could use wording like:
You can be as involved in things as you want to be. I don’t want anyone to do anything they’re uncomfortable with – if you’d like to give a reading or a speech, it would be amazing; if you’d rather not, I won’t mind.
I’d really love you to give a speech on the day. (Though I want you to enjoy the day more than anything else, so don’t feel you have to say yes!)
I don’t want anyone to do anything they’re uncomfortable with – I just want to have an awesome day with all the people I care about, and lots of cake. If you’d like to give a speech or a reading, that would be amazing. If you’d rather not, that’s fine too.
I’d love you to give a reading during my wedding ceremony but, more than anything else, I’d love you to enjoy yourself at my wedding. I don’t want anyone doing anything they’re uncomfortable with, so please don’t feel you have to say yes just because I’m asking you. If you want to give a reading, that would be awesome and we can find a really cool one we both like.
If you’d rather chill out, I won’t mind. I’m just excited to have you there.
Have a think and let me know.
Write out what giving a speech would look like, clearly wording – again and again! – that your mother enjoying the day is your top priority and you don’t want her to do it if she’s not comfortable.
It may even be worth giving her the option of doing a speech or a ceremony reading (which are shorter and pre-written, so they come with a lot less stress!), to underline that this is a choice, not a demand.
Once you’ve posted the card, don’t chase her for a reply. Don’t ask her if she’s got it. Let her get in touch with you.
I wound up doing this for my own wedding. I wrote proposal cards to each of my three bridesmaids, saying I’d love them to give a speech or a reading, if they were up for it. Two heartily agreed to give toasts. The other – who was a bit shy, who wouldn’t know many people at the wedding – quietly told me she’d rather not.
If I’d put her on the spot, asking in person, I think she would have found it harder not to say yes just to make me happy. Instead, we both enjoyed the other toasts and had a relaxed day together.
What do you think? What have you done to make sure your friends and family don’t feel pressured into being a part of your wedding? Tell me in the comments!