There is one moment in a man’s life when he is guaranteed to make a room cheer, whoop and stamp their feet. And all he needs are four little words: “My wife and I.” Granted, it works only once – the first time – and it has to be at his own wedding reception, but as long as those conditions are in place, he is 100 per cent on to a winner.
There are no companion statistics about what happens when a woman tries the same with “My husband and I”, because it never happens. After the giving of rings, the bride is generally struck dumb as her father, then her husband, then her husband’s best friend talk about her for about 42 minutes, after which she cuts a cake with her man’s help, and does a dance.
A wedding is no place to rage against patriarchal oppression, of course. So unromantic. The mute bride, though, is a particularly odd tradition. Now it appears that she is breaking her silence. According to a report, more and more brides are wresting the microphone from grooms and giving their own speech.
And why not? They have probably planned most of the day and paid for half of it. At the very least they might have some thanks to give. As for the guests, having spent the best part of an hour hearing about how wonderful she is, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that they might like to hear from the woman herself.
I’ve seen only one bride speak so far. It was my friend Katharine and her speech about her new husband was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. Of course it made perfect sense, at a celebration of a union, for both to speak. It’s not a question of equal rights but a statement of love, of the shape of a partnership to come.
So let’s hear it from the bride. Unshackled by centuries of tradition that demand that father, groom, and best man must make the room cry, go gooey-eyed and laugh (respectively), she has the potential to steal the show. Just so long as she keeps it brief. We’ve all got a pound riding on the length of the speeches and we’re itching to get up and dance to “It’s Raining Men”.