Someone you know is getting married. They've asked you to speak at their reception. Unfortunately, there's some bad blood between you — maybe they're an ex or a person you were one-sidedly in love with, maybe they're a family member that you haven't always gotten along with or secretly resent, maybe you love the friend/relative but can't stand the person they're marrying. Something like that.
You might do it on purpose, as a calculated attack. You might mean
to give a perfectly nice speech, but when the time comes you find yourself saying something... different (especially if you've been enjoying the open bar a bit too much). Either way, you're now giving a speech that embarrasses, insults, and/or attacks one or both of the newlyweds. For all that they're ruining someone's special day, the bitter speech-giver is usually the one we're supposed to be sympathetic towards (although the bitter speech-giving is generally treated as something they shouldn't have done). Compare with Speak Ill of the Dead
and But I Digress
- Subversion in Shade, the Changing Man; Lenny is invited to her uncle's wedding, years after he babysat her as a child, and masturbated while watching her sleep. She has everyone's attention when she gets onto the table in front of the married couple, expecting a speech. She simply unfastens her dress and lets it fall off her with a smirk on her face. The reception ended in family violence.
- In an issue of X-Men, Emma Frost is invited to the wedding of her former friend from college, and she asks Wolverine to come along (because why not). The two are treated with scorn for being known mutants and for Emma's sexual past with the groom. After the best man embarrasses her in his speech, Emma takes the mic and gives a nice little speech of her own...and outs the groom as a mutant. The guests are all shocked and the visibly-pregnant bride is particularly horrified. Emma and Logan leave right after, and he goes all "What the Hell, Hero?" during the drive back. She says he can now join the fight, but turns away and looks out the window with mixed regret.
- In an issue of True Story Swear To God, Tom is at his brother's wedding and one of the bridesmaids gives a toast that basically says "You spend time together, fight a lot, divide everything up and get divorced, and be alone." She then holds up her glass with an Ax-Crazy smile, while the male half of the wedding party forces painful, rictus-looking smiles onto their faces to get through it, though they are able to joke about it afterwards, saying "Never let a divorcee make the toast."
- In 27 Dresses, the main character gives a very sarcastic and bitter speech at her sister's rehearsal dinner, revealing to her sister's fiancÚ that she (the sister) has been lying to him about various things and causing him to break off the engagement.
- The icing on the cake is, the sister wrote a speech for the main character to read, word-for-word, no ad-libbing. Which she does. She just reads in a very sarcastic manner and set up a slideshow alongside the speech to show everyone just how 'well matched' the sister and her clueless fiance really are.
- In Rachel Getting Married Kym, who has just gotten out of rehab, makes a speech at her sister's rehearsal dinner apologizing for her past actions because she is jealous of the attention her sister is getting.
- A montage in The Wedding Crashers has a scene of Owen Wilson doing at least one or two of these.
- The protagonist of The Wedding Singer sings professionally at weddings, so there are several opportunities for this.
- Subverted in About Schmidt. Schmidt certainly wants to deliver one of these at his daughter's wedding, but his inhibitions and Midwestern sense of decorum prevent it.
- In Melancholia, one of these from the bride's mother is just the first of many, many things to go horribly wrong.
- In How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely, the protagonist gives a speech at his ex's wedding that's not bitter, per se, but reveals embarrassing details of her past and is barely coherent (since he's extremely drunk at the time).
- Subverted in a poem by David Rakoff. The speech-giver is the ex of the bride and ex-"friend" of the groom, and as the moment approaches even he doesn't know what he's going to say. He ends up telling the story of The Farmer And The Viper, to a cold reception, and then goes on to say that the moral of the story is that human nature is unchangeable — including the natural inclination to open up to people even though we know they might hurt us, so we should be prepared for this and forgive.
Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander's father makes a bitter speech about his own wife before the wedding. The fact that his parents have such a bad relationship is strongly implied to be one of the reasons Xander winds up leaving Anya at the altar.
- A sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look has a best man questioning the groom's description of the bride as "the most beautiful woman in the world" and not understanding why this makes her cry and gets him booed.
"What?! Sorry, Jane, but you've not been thinking you're the most beautiful woman in the world, have you?"
- This The Catherine Tate Show sketch that's particularly cringe worthy since it's coming from the bride.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Ted winds up giving a series of these, which get posted online. One of them is auto-tuned into a Stupid Statement Dance Mix, which is huge in Finland.
- The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Rashomama" has the mother of the groom give one of these in which she says her son could have had any woman but instead ended up with this dull, worthless girl. Watching the speech caused the main characters to wonder if the mother's death might qualify as a justifiable homicide.
- Though while she did dislike the bride, the reason she acted the way she did was because one of the bridesmaids drugged her.
- In one episode of the 2007 Flash Gordon television series, a friend of Flash's is giving a wedding speech at his younger brother's wedding. The guy mentions that he has always lived in his younger brother's shadow, that his brother has always had it easier than him. Averted at the very end when he declares that he doesn't really resent his brother for his success and he couldn't be more proud of him.
- Used in Sex and the City, but subverted as the best man's speech is not directed at the newlyweds (Charlotte and Harry), but rather at Carrie, who had earlier rejected his suggestion that they hook up again after what Carrie considered a one night stand of painful and bad sex.
- Mild example in Boy Meets World. Shawn doesn't attack or embarrass the couple with his speech at the reception (though he does get into a fight with Cory during the ceremony itself) but he does focus too much on the fact that he's losing his best friend instead of being happy for the newlyweds.
- Hell's Bells (and its parent website Etiquette Hell) have in their archives stories of people giving bitter wedding speeches, some from divorcees, others from parents who think their new child-in-law isn't good enough for their child. This story, though, takes the cake, in which the best 'man' (a woman in this case) complained that if she was really the best woman, she would have been the bride instead of the storyteller. The kicker? She gave the bride a copy of the speech!