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Bitter Wedding Speech

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"That experience, connecting with a
stranger and falling recklessly in love,
is one of life's greatest joys.
And now that you're married,
you'll never experience it again.
It's the price you pay for everlasting love.
It's a small one, but I hope it stings a little."

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.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Subverted by Captain Global. At Max and Milia's wedding he starts talking about how it's hard for humanity to forgive the Zentradi for all the people they've killed, and everyone is afraid of the seemingly hateful direction his speech is going in, but he quickly makes it clear that humanity must disregard any hard feelings in favor of the hope for coexistence represented by Max and Milia's love.


    Comic Books 
  • Shade, the Changing Man: Subverted: 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.
  • X-Men: In X-Men Unlimited (Vol. 2) #4, 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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."

    Fan Works 
  • God Save the Esteem: Erin winds up delivering one at her own wedding after her relationship with Brian completely implodes.
  • Luna The Match Maker: As many of the ponies around her are finding love and getting married, Apple Bloom realizes that she's growing incredibly jealous, ultimately spurring her to set off on a quest to find herself... as well as prevent the chances of her delivering one of these. She leaves behind a letter for Luna explaining herself, asking that her friends simply "forget about her for a while".
  • In Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash, Ambush's Gengar—as part of the lead-up towards actively sabotaging a wedding—is assigned to give the speech while undercover as a priest. Most of it goes normally until he gets to "I now pronounce you...", at which point he goes off the rails, viciously insulting both the bride and groom before breaking the masquerade, nailing them both with a Lick attack, and cackling his way off the physical plane.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 27 Dresses, the main character gives a very sarcastic and bitter speech at her sister's rehearsal dinner, revealing to her sister's fiancé 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 it 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 fiancé really are.
  • 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 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. His opportunity came when the woman he was about to marry becomes a Runaway Bride who dumps him, and so he takes it out on a happy couple that just got married (and the father who hired him in the first place), which leads into his singing "Love Stinks" and eventually giving up being a wedding singer.
    • Earlier the brother of a groom delivers one of these full of his resentment against his brother- the wedding singer steps in and cleans it up and saves the day.

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Raj starts crying in the middle of his speech at Howard and Bernadette's wedding, because he's still jealous.
  • 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.
  • On the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Hell's Bells", 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.
  • This The Catherine Tate Show sketch that's particularly cringeworthy since it's coming from the bride.
  • Cracker. In "The New Terror", Fitz humiliates his daughter at her wedding by listing her previous boyfriends. This is the daughter he's seen doting on in previous episodes when she was still a little girl.
  • The CSI 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.
  • Penny's speech at Shershow's wedding in Happy Endings, complete with a drunken fall over the podium and an accidental flashing of the entire room. And that's just the brief portion viewers get to see, it apparently went on for a quite a while after the flashing and at one point included an offensive impression of a "Korean Grandma".
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted winds up giving a series of these. In this case it's not so much "bitter" as pathetic; since his hometown friends keep getting married at low-points in Ted's life, he tries to give a heartfelt congratulations speech but always seems to wind up bemoaning his own crappy situation and breaking down in tears. Eventually, this becomes a sort of tradition among his old friends (who think it's hilarious), and some of the videos get posted online. One of them is auto-tuned into a Voice Clip Song, which is huge in Finland.
  • In Leverage, Nathan Ford — disguised as the priest — gives a Bitter wedding speech, nearly blowing their cover. He manages to turn it around into a heartwarming Public Secret Message to Sophie about their relationship.
  • During Jay and Gloria's wedding in Modern Family, Jay's ex-wife gave a drunken speech mocking and insulting the younger, prettier, and noticeably accented Gloria. She eventually has to be dragged out of the room, knocking over the cake on the way. Gloria considers the whole affair worse than her first wedding, which involved the officiant being assassinated.
  • 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.
  • Played with but ultimately averted in Sherlock when Sherlock delivers a best man speech at John Watson's wedding. Initially he fumbles and stammers, then makes some rude comments condemning the concepts of love and faith. He then makes up for those remarks beautifully;
    "The point I'm trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, and all-around obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. So if I didn't understand I was being asked to be the best man, it is because I never expected to be anybody's best friend, and certainly not the best friend of the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing."
  • 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. Though it's played with, since it's less "bitter" and more "unbearably pedantic", as the best man's main theme is that objectively speaking the wedding service was merely So Okay, It's Average and not worth the big deal everyone's been making about it.
    "What?! Sorry, Jane, but you've not been thinking you're the most beautiful woman in the world, have you?"

  • Garth Brooks' song "Friends In Low Places" is one of these. To top it off, the singer was not invited, crashed this party Underdressed for the Occasion, and the speech is about how he's fine with their break-up because he's going to go get drunk.
  • Nick Lowe 's "I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll)" can be played this way, although the Softer and Slower Cover makes it sound more wistful and nostalgic.
  • John Prine's "All the Best":
    I wish you love and happiness. I guess I wish you all the best. I hope you don't do like I do: don't ever fall in love with someone like you...
  • In Uncle Bonsai's "Doug Gets Married":
    The mother of the bride said she was ready to go home,
    Although her daughter hadn't cut the cake.
    She offered up a bridal toast in perfect monotone
    And said that it was all a big mistake.
    • And again in the song's P.O.V. Sequel, "I Never Learned How To Waltz":
      Here's a toast to calmer seas, to less inclement weather,
      A toast that you'll remember me when you're not still together.

  • "Satisfied" from Hamilton is framed like one of these, but the "bitter" parts aren't actually heard by the other characters; Angelica gives a perfectly nice maid-of-honor speech while thinking about how she's madly in love with the groom.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in Rick and Morty: at Birdperson's wedding, Rick starts a bleak and pessimistic speech where he states how little he trusts marriage, whose only purpose is to prevent people from dying alone. But in the end, he claims that Birdperson is still his best friend and that he will support his choice.
    Rick: Listen, I'm not the nicest guy in the Universe, because I'm the smartest. And being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets. Now, I haven't been exactly subtle about how little I trust marriage. I couldn't make it work, and I could turn a black hole into a sun, so... at a certain point you got to ask yourself, what are the odds this is legit and not just some big lie we're all telling ourselves because we're afraid to die alone? Because, you know, that's exactly how we all die, alone. [...] But... but... Here's the thing: Birdperson is my best friend, and if he loves Tammy, well, then I love Tammy, too! To friendship, to love, and to my greatest adventure yet, opening myself up to others!

    Real Life 
  • Hell's Bells(and its parent website Etiquette Hell) have in their archives stories of people giving bitter wedding speeches, some from divorcées, 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!


Video Example(s):


R. Atkinson's Wedding Speech

From Rowan Atkinson Live, "With Friends Like These..." The just-married protagonist's less-than-sober new father-in-law makes his speech at the wedding reception, and gives a glowing review of Martin, "and I therefore ask the question, why the hell did she marry GERALD instead?" Things go downhill from there.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / BitterWeddingSpeech

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