25th Wedding Anniversary Speech
A Part-by-part Suggestion
The 25th wedding anniversary is considered by many to be the first event to occur in a series of “big events” in a married couple's life. The next one is the 50th wedding anniversary
. After that, the anniversaries are usually celebrated more often, every five years, seemingly out of practical calculation that the chances of celebrating wedding anniversaries after the 50th are slimmer than those before.
The people present at the 25th wedding anniversary are the couple's children, siblings, nephews, nieces and sometimes cousins and very close friends. When the couple's children are not yet adults, it is fair for any of the siblings to give a speech. Otherwise, most often one of the children, especially the one dearest to the couple, will deliver the main speech because the children are considered to be the closest people to witness and feel the couple's happiness and sadness, ups and downs, and other private emotions and thoughts unknown to others outside the immediate family. Another reason for a son or daughter to give the speech is the common sense that the 25th wedding anniversary most often marks the ending of child-rearing phase of the couple.
So the following is a suggestion for a speech to be delivered by the couple's adult son or daughter at their parents' 25th wedding anniversary, broken in parts with some explanations.
The first rule of thumb is that you want everyone to take notice that you are about to give a speech. That's why you greet them in the middle of their chatty conversations. To support your greeting, raise your voice just enough above the audible level of their chats. You may even cling your teaspoon or dessert spoon against your glass or coffee cup, as if ringing a bell as an indication something is about to commence.
The second rule of thumb is that you want to address the audience in the order of your closeness to them, and then in the order of their positions in the family tree.
Let's say all attendees are relatives. Greet them with the highest branch first, going downward. Examples:
* Uncles & Aunts, Cousins, Mom & Dad
* Grandma, Uncles & Aunts, Cousins, Mom & Dad
Remember, in this case it will sound awkward to open your speech with the formal “Ladies & Gentlemen”; so don't use it. Don't worry, you'll still sound respectful towards them because uncles and aunts commonly go by their first names when their nephews and nieces call them.
If some close friends of your parents are attending, then address them first before any of your relatives. In addition, it will be most appropriate to precede with semi-formal salutations such as “Dear” and “Good evening”, but still avoid the rigidly formal “Ladies & Gentlemen”. Examples:
* Dear Friends, Uncles & Aunts, Cousins, Mom & Dad
* Good evening Friends, Ms. Vills, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Uncles Jay and Fred, Aunts Jane, Katherine and Allison, Cousins Tim and Cathy, Mom & Dad
If, and only if, people who are not close friends are present—by way of invitation by your uncles, aunts or cousins—then you will not be thought of rigid when you greet them, out of respect, “Ladies & Gentlemen”:
* Dear Ladies & Gentlemen, Friends, Uncles & Aunts, Cousins, Mom & Dad
* Ladies & Gentlemen, Friends, Families, Mom & Dad
So address friends and other guests who you are not familiar first, then those who you are. After non-relative persons, address your relatives starting with the highest branch downward: grandparents before uncles and aunts, who come before cousins. “Mom & Dad” is an exception because they are the ones being celebrated.
The reason for addressing them in the fashion outlined above is because “Ladies & Gentlemen” should come before anything else, if it ever has to be used. Also, when you address the more remotely related before the more closely related ones, you give a sense of embracing them in to your circle of close families.
After greeting the participants, begin by explaining why it is worth your (and your siblings') time, effort and money to celebrate your parents' 25th wedding anniversary. A good way to do this is to make a reference to the qualities of silver, the metal symbol and gift for the 25th wedding anniversary. Example:
As you can see from the silvery decorations, we are gathered here today to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my parents' wedding. As a young man/woman who hasn't had a taste of a marriage life himself/herself, I must confess it is a bit intimidating to stand up here and talk about feelings and thoughts about a silver wedding.
But one thing is certain. This anniversary is very special because it is a living proof how deeply electrifying their love has been bonding their souls. Their love, like silver—the element that has the highest electrical conductivity—has been transferring their thoughts and feelings between the two of them and making them more glued each day.
As a metal, silver also has the highest thermal conductivity. So, we can be pretty sure that their electrifying love has also kept them in constant warmth. And at times, temperatures must have been so high, otherwise I wouldn't be here, standing and delivering this speech.
Another way of introducing your parents' 25th wedding anniversary to your audience is by citing some statistical figures related to marriages and divorces. The figures used in the example below are provided by the Office for National Statistics, covering marriages and divorces in England and Wales.
I didn't have any idea how this successful journey of 25 years of marriage has meant for them and us the children until I started looking up some statistical numbers. According to the Office of National Statistics, my parents' marriage belongs to the slight minority by 2005 findings. In that year, for every 100 marriages filed there were 57 divorces decreed. You know, 247,805 couples got married but 141,750 married couples got divorced in England and Wales that year.
I am grateful to have been part of such a successful union.
The body or main part of your speech will narrate specific events and special feelings and thoughts resulted. For example, suppose you remember how your father supported your mother when she was angry at your naughtiness:
Being the apple of Dad's eye, I was surprised to see his reaction and support to Mom's anger at me.
It was another summer day, and I was playing in the kitchen. For some unknown reason, I had an urge of tasting all the jams there. So I opened every one of them and scoop in a spoon from bottle to bottle, over and over. At the end of this jam-eating spree, only about a quarter of every jam was left.
When Mom came in to the kitchen, well.., most of you know the rest and the rest of you can guess...
By the time Dad came home, Mom must have told him about my naughtiness because when I happily came to him, expecting consolation in his affection for me, he instead told me not to make the same mistake again and asked me to make that promise to Mom.
That was the first time I rationally learned that there were more uniting threads than dividing egos between Mom & Dad.
To spice up your personal accounts in this body, intersperse them with moving quotes. Here are some quotes that might be useful:
* The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth. (Chinese Proverb)
* Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit. (Kahlil Gibran)
* For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
In closing your speech, summarise your feelings and impressions of your parents. Of course, here you should prefer positive remarks to negative ones. After all, you are celebrating their anniversary! Example:
As all of you may now have a glimpse of the strong bond between my parents, I must add that I have learnt a lot from their relationship and gathered valuable knowledge for my own future marriage. And despite all the shortcomings they have as human beings, they are my leading examples of making true love come true.
I truly believe that my parents were actually having more of a good time than troubles when they welcomed us to this world and laboured day and night so we could be fed and nourished, by food and love. They must have also been having a bliss in rearing us, making sure we went to schools and learnt all of our ABCs, warming our bodies with clothes and putting us to sleep in cosy beds. Kahlil Gibran must have had an insightful experience when he said, 'Yes, there is a Nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.'
Again, some suggestions of quotes/poems may be handy to provide dramatic background to your closing and toast:
* A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.
* Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.
* Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
(Song of Solomon, 1:2)
* I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.
* I would be a robot if I said I didn't feel moments of anger, of hurt, of embarrassment.
* Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen:
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.
(From “Venus and Adonis” by William Shakespeare)
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