Scheduling Time and planning for Your Wedding Speeches

Speeches and toasts at a wedding can add a personal and heartfelt touch to your wedding day by allowing guests, family and friends to share their stories, well wishes and advice. While most couples know that speeches are traditionally a mandatory part of the day, they may be confused about who the speakers traditionally are, in what order they are supposed to speak, and at what point in the day speeches are appropriate.

The first speech is typically given by the father of the bride, a family member, or father-like friend who is close to the bride. He usually begins this speech by thanking the guests for attending, and recognizing the groom’s parents. It usually ends with him speaking of his daughter, sharing fun memories between the two of them, and expressing his well wishes for her and the groom. He then will call up the groom to give his speech.

The groom typically replies on behalf of himself and the bride, thanking the father of the bride for his words. He will then thank his parents and new in-laws, and usually convey his love for his new wife, as well as memories, anecdotes, and his hopes and dreams for the future. He will end the speech with an acknowledgement of the bridal party, and call for the best man to step up and share his words.

The best man’s responsibilities include giving a speech on behalf of himself and the wedding party. While other guests’ speeches may be funny or lighthearted in nature, the best man’s speech is traditionally supposed to be the most hilarious and entertaining one of the evening. In fact, some grooms make sure ahead of time that their best man possess the ability to give a humorous and engaging speech. The best man should focus primarily on the groom, and end his speech with some kind words about the bride and heartfelt well wishes for the couple and their marriage.

The maid of honor can give a speech, but it is not required. However, if she chooses to give one, hers will typically follow the best man’s speech. Being the final speech of the evening, this one should be brief and to the point. She can reveal how she first met the bride, as well as some funny memories or stories. This speech will usually end with a few words about the bride and groom and her well wishes for the two of them.

Toasts and speeches should be limited to no more than four speakers, as guests can begin to get bored and antsy if they take up too much time. Each speech should typically last about two to five minutes. This may seem like a short amount of time, but four speeches can add up to a significant amount of time. 

If you have a feeling that a lot of your guests will want to make speeches, you can ask them to do so at the rehearsal dinner, or at another family function before the wedding, in order to cut down the number of speeches at the actual reception.

You should schedule the speeches around the meal while everyone is seated so you don’t have to spend time rounding everyone up or getting everyone’s attention. At a smaller wedding, the start of the speeches can be signaled by the best man gently tapping on a glass. For a larger, louder wedding, an announcement by the DJ or band leader made over the microphone may be appropriate. 

Toasts should be made with either champagne or sparkling wine, so be sure that your guests’ glasses are full, and that the speech givers have glasses to begin with. For an alcohol-free wedding, sparkling elderflower or a similar type of drink can work just as well.

If your friends and family are nervous about giving a speech, you can point them to many online resources and books that are full of great quotes and pointers on how to write a good wedding speech. 

While these are traditional guidelines for wedding speakers, your fiancé and you do not have to stick to convention if you prefer not to. For instance, it is perfectly appropriate for brides to speak in addition to grooms. Modern couples are changing it up and creating new versions of longtime wedding traditions. Do what makes you and your guests feel most comfortable; great speeches will come from comfortable and relaxed speakers.