Thursday, September 27, 2012

We need to talk

Argh! Making a wedding speech

I was delighted to be invited to my friend's wedding. It'll be my first chance to attend a shinto ceremony, and she's been so excited about the whole wedding process. Then, she asked me to make a speech (she also asked me to sing, but I had to shoot down that idea quickly. Yelling out a few verses of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" or Morning Musume's "Love Machine" is just hilarious with a few friends and a lot of drinks at karaoke but... not in front of 80 strangers at a formal wedding party).

I'll leave the singing to the 'professionals'. 

Since there's no maid of honour or best man, it's up to friends and co-workers to make the speeches.  As a friend, I will probably be speaking after her or her husband's boss makes a formal speech introducing the couple. I thought I'd say something like "Hi, this is my friend, I've known her for 4 years and she's really cool and stylish and I hope she and her husband will be happy for a very long time. Thank you." Apparently, not.  My husband said I'd better find out who else will be making a speech and what the speaking order is, as this will determine what I talk about and how formal my language needs to be. Doh! It sounds complicated already!

I watched Jack Nicholson make a wedding speech in About Schmidt. Then I watched The Five Year Engagement, featuring a cringe worthy "we didn't start the fire" slide show and a sobbing sister's speech. Strangely, these didn't help and neither did Steve Buscemi in The Wedding Singer. Hub suggested I find a good English quote about love and then explain it in Japanese. Did I mention this speech is meant to be in Japanese?

Maybe a slideshow of past lovers - even if set to catchy music - is not the best idea

You don't want the couple to choke on their cake.

Don't go there.

It gets worse: in Japanese wedding speeches, there are a whole bunch of 'taboo' words and phrases. Anything that suggests cutting or separation is a no-go. You either avoid those words or use special words instead.

In case you are ever in this joyous position, here are some suggestions for a Japanese wedding speech:

Don't go there:
kiru - to cut (sounds like break off the relationship) - use naifu o ireru if you must.
owari - to end (obviously unlucky) - use o-hiraki
kyonen - last year (it has the same kanji as "to leave") - use sakunen
kaeru - to leave (obviously unlucky) - use chuuza suru or shitsurei suru
just plain avoid these words: saru (to leave), wakareru (to part), modoru (return - sounds like remarry), yaburu (to break), akiru (to be bored), tabitabi (repeatedly) and mou ichido (once more).

Remember:  words about knives, cutting, separation or... divorce!

Here are some rather bland, but useful phrases: "x-san, y-san, omedetou gozaimasu. kyou wa omaneki itadaki, arigatou gozaimashita." - Congratulations, x-san and y-san, I'm really happy to be here today.
"Itsumade mo, oshiawase ni" - I wish you a long and happy marriage.

The good news: the speech only needs to be around 2 - 3 minutes.

I bet the wedding robot doesn't make grammar mistakes!
If you have to make a formal speech, you'll need a lot of keigo (all that "watakushi" etc). Get a friend to proofread your speech - not just for grammar, but for taboo words or cultural clangers. Hugh Grant made a very funny wedding speech in Four Weddings, but jokes about relationships with sheep, etc probably won't play so well here...Four Weddings and a Funeral speech

Save it up for the "nijikai" or second party - when the rellies and bosses have gone home and everyone's blotto... then you can tell them what you really think!

1 comment:

  1. You could just use that chick's wedding speech from the credit card ad. I could just about reel that off by heart cos it's on during every single
    Arashi show ever.

    What's a good English quote about love? I couldn't even think of one.