This is not something either of us are interested in and also the folks we plan to ask to be honor attendants do not speak in public in front of strangers.
I've only seen them done twice (including thank yous to the guests at one) and both were very uncomfortable but they seem to be expected/required regardless which makes no sense whatsoever as though no one should care about the couple's comfort level
Did anyone else skip them? Is there a way to tell people beforehand absolutely no speeches?
If you have a DJ, I would let the DJ know that you're planning to skip the speeches, and also let your wedding party and parents know as well. That way, everyone who would normally make a toast knows that they don't need to prepare one, and the DJ would know to not give the microphone to anyone who asks to make a speech.
Luckily those who will be asked to be in wedding party are too shy to consider giving a speech in the first place. Parents said they don't feel it's their place to give one. I'm worried that someone outside those groups might randomly decide to go ahead anyway.
I think it's fine to skip doing speeches. If you're concerned about odd people trying to say something any way, I'd give your DJ instructions to NOT give a microphone to anyone and to keep control of the party. However, I do think it is important that the B&G acknowledge their guests and let them know how much they appreciate their attendance. There are a few ways you could do that without giving a speech -- you could make table visits (if Covid-restrictions don't preclude it) where you and H make time during the reception (typically just after dinner) to visit each table for a minute or two and express your appreciation. You could potentially have your photographer accompany you while making your visits and use it as an opportunity to get a photo with each table grouping. A second option would be to do a receiving line either immediately after the ceremony or at the start of the reception where you and H greet each guest personally. The potential downside is that guests can get stuck waiting in the receiving line for a while, which is never fun for them. A third option is that you do some kind of a written & printed acknowledgement -- as a pp mentioned, it can be in the wedding program if you have them, or it could be a card at each place setting, or possibly attached to a wedding favor. Personally, I think every B&G should attempt to have a brief personal interaction with every guest -- that's just good manners -- whether they give a speech or not. Good luck!
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Where we are from it is very common to dismiss rows after the ceremony which goes pretty quickly. It's considered rude in our area/families/social circles to invite people to the reception only so that ensures everyone is greeted.
We skipped them. We didn’t do any sort of advanced warning, except for speaking to the people that would’ve done them (Best man was absolutely not interested, so I asked my MOH and she said she didn’t care either way— so we went without). That was the extent of notification. None of the guests were looking for speeches, no one seemed to care.
To be clear though, H and I did get up in front of everyone for a quick thank you! That felt important to us.