Traditional Order of Speeches
There is a traditional order for speeches at a wedding – but it is important to remember that it is your wedding so the format is really up to you. It is useful to consider the traditional format so that you can decide which elements you wish to include and which you would like to vary.
The short version of the traditional order of speeches
The toast to the bride and groom – given by the bride’s father or a close family friend.
The bridegroom’s reply on behalf of his wife and himself. He then proposes a toast to the bridesmaids.
The best man’s speech on behalf of the bridesmaids. He then reads any emails or messages.
The longer version of the traditional order of speeches
Welcome by the Master of Ceremonies.
Introduction of the person proposing a toast to the bride and groom.
Response from the groom and a toast to the bridesmaids.
Response by the best man.
Toast to the parents of the bride.
Response by the father of the bride.
Toast to the parents of the groom.
Response by the father of the groom.
Reading of important messages.
Any other comments by those who wish to be acknowledged.
M.C. thanks the musicians, caterers and any others.
You don’t have to stick to this format. If anyone is very shy, why spoil the happy day by torturing them? There is no reason whatsoever why the girls can’t have their say! If the bride wishes to speak, she may want to do so after the groom. She can toast the groomsmen as well as the bridesmaids and then the chief bridesmaid, or the Best Man could respond. A lot depends on who is good at making speeches. As long as the people who count are thanked, and someone wishes the happy couple well, speeches are simply a tool for livening up the party atmosphere, and making sure the room is filled with joy and laughter.
Now you have an idea of the traditional order of speeches, take a look at our do’s and don’ts to writing a speech here!
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Speech Order & Writing Toasts
Weddings are a blast, but the speeches—whether heartfelt or hilarious—remind everyone why they’re there: to celebrate two people in love. This wedding speech guide covers all the basics.
Wedding receptions are undoubtedly about the newly married couple, but between music, catching up with friend and relatives, and sampling dessert tables, there is a lot going on. Once the wedding ceremony is over, the day can quickly go from dignified to lively and raucous (in the best way possible, of course), and the wedding speeches are possibly the last time every guest will be seated at once. They’re also what’s going to make your big day feel extra personal and sentimental when loved ones share their favorite memories of you and your partner. If you’re planning your wedding toast or speech order, or if you’re in the wedding party and need to prep for your own toast, follow these guidelines and tips to know exactly what you should expect.
Wedding Speech Length & Content
Who gives a toast at a wedding?
Your parents/parent figures, wedding party members, best friends, or close relatives are generally the ones who give speeches or readings throughout your wedding celebration, but ultimately, you can ask whoever you want if it will mean something to you. Keep in mind that speeches are traditionally given at the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, and sometimes during the ceremony, such as readings or blessings. Here are all the wedding speeches you’ll need to plan for and who traditionally gives them at each event—but remember this can change depending on your personal preferences and what does or doesn’t apply to you as a couple.
Rehearsal dinner speeches
Since fewer people will be in attendance, these rehearsal dinner toasts can be longer and more involved than wedding day speeches. Say hello and introduce yourself, then welcome everyone and say how excited you are for the wedding. Tell a sweet, hilarious, or intriguing story that’s related to the couple or the wedding. For example, give your first impression of meeting the bride or groom; talk about how the couple met or got engaged; or share a childhood memory, like how the bride used to try on her mother’s wedding gown when she was a teenager. End with something sentimental and heartfelt about the couple or a quote about marriage, then wish the couple well.
- Host(s): The rehearsal dinner is traditionally hosted by the groom’s parents (if applicable). The father of the groom, mother of the groom, or other host will thank guests for attending.
- Wedding party: While the best man and maid of honor speeches should be reserved for the wedding reception, this is a chance for other bridesmaids and groomsmen to publicly share their well wishes for the newlyweds.
- Couple: The couple will take a few minutes to thank their relatives and wedding party for supporting and celebrating them.
- Other family members/important guests: Grandparents and other close relatives may wish to share an informal congratulations during the rehearsal dinner.
Wedding ceremony speeches and readings
- Officiant: In addition to coordinating your wedding vows, the officiant may wish to share a personal story about the two of you during the ceremony, especially if they’re someone you’ve known for a long time or have been in pre-wedding counseling.
- Ceremony readers: Friends and relatives who aren’t already in the wedding party are great choices when deciding who will give readings during the ceremony.
Wedding reception speeches
- Best man: The best man kicks off the wedding speeches by giving a toast shortly after everyone is seated at their reception tables.
- Maid of honor: The maid of honor takes the mic immediately following the best man’s speech.
- Host(s): The wedding reception is traditionally hosted by the bride’s parents (if applicable). The father of the bride and/or mother of the bride will congratulate the newlyweds and give a toast.
- Couple: The couple may wish to say a few brief words to kickstart the reception meal and thank guests for coming.
Every couple has their own preferences and relationships when it comes to who gives wedding speeches and toasts, and nobody should ever feel forced to give one. If the best man or maid of honor isn’t comfortable speaking in front of a crowd (or if there isn’t a best man or maid of honor at all), either skip it or hand the baton to somebody who will love getting up in front of a sea of eager faces. If a lot of people want to make a toast, consider arranging traditional toasts during the wedding and save the rest of the speeches for the rehearsal dinner.
How long should a wedding speech be?
No matter how long you’ve known the couple, it’s best to keep your wedding speech under five minutes, and aim for closer to three minutes if you can. Even if there’s a lot to say, talking for three minutes can feel like a long time—but with a simple template, you’ll nail your moment in the spotlight. A great speech doesn’t have to be full of perfected, eloquent wording; instead, it should evoke an emotion and convey a genuine happiness for the couple. Short and sweet wedding toasts can still be filled with plenty of charm!
What do you say in a wedding speech?
Since you want to keep your toast short and to the point, it’s best to follow a simple outline. Regardless of your role, a great wedding speech should go something like this: Start by introducing yourself and sharing how you know the couple, followed by a short anecdote or story, and conclude by sharing your love and raising a glass to the newlyweds. Here are other speech examples:
What should you avoid in a wedding speech?
Inside stories may amuse the couple, but they can easily get lost on the rest of the crowd, and the last thing you want is crickets or awkward silence. No matter what, don’t bring up old flames or problems the couple has faced—this is supposed to be a happy, lighthearted celebration. Not sure if that hilarious but questionable story from a night out is appropriate? Skip it—children, parents, and grandparents are listening! Avoid insult humor, too. Remember, this is a toast, not a roast! For more tips, here’s how to write a funny wedding speech.
Reception Wedding Speech Order
1. The best man
You might think that being best man is all about planning a raucous bachelor party and not much else, but this job does have a few best man duties to prepare for, most important being the best man speech. And when it comes to the wedding speech order, the best man usually goes first. The best man should introduce himself and explain how he knows the couple. For example, he can tell the story of how he and the groom have been buddies since high school and how they met the bride-to-be during spring break their junior year of college. He can then say something positive about the couple and their relationship, show gratitude for being part of their day and wish them happiness. (Pssst! Here’s how to write a best man speech.)
2. Maid of honor
When thinking about wedding speeches, the maid of honor is usually top of mind. While the maid of honor can follow the same outline as the best man’s speech, it’s more common for their speech to focus on the bride. Drawing from past experiences together, the MOH can tell a heartwarming or funny story from their friendship or share an anecdote from wedding planning escapades. For example, maybe the veil didn’t arrive until the day before the wedding or putting together the favors was a complete nightmare, but the bride managed to keep her cool through it all. (Here are all our tips on how to write a maid of honor speech, from start to finish.)
3. Parents of either spouse
If one or both sets of parents are hosting the wedding, they may choose to say a few words to welcome everyone to the event as part of the wedding speech order. This toast will be fairly fast, especially if the parents made a lengthy or heartwarming toast at the rehearsal dinner. The father of the bride speech or parents’ toast usually welcomes and thanks the guests, and then raises a glass to the other set of parents and the happy couple.
4. The couple
Sometimes the couple will opt to make a toast, particularly if they are hosting the wedding. The main purpose of this toast is to be a wedding thank-you speech to everyone involved: the bridal party, family and guests. Couples may also express their excitement about starting their new married life together. Again, this is an optional (but nice) part of the wedding speech order, so if the couple is hesitant about speaking in front of a crowd, they can go from table to table during the reception to express their thanks in a more personal, intimate way.
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Here’s The Wedding Speech Order to Follow at Your Reception
Mapping out the perfect wedding reception timeline is an art. You want the wedding day to flow from beginning to end and offer numerous memorable moments along the way—one of those being the wedding speeches. Part of crafting the ideal reception timeline and flow is deciding the wedding speech order. To help with that, below we mapped out the traditional wedding speech order for you and answered other pressing wedding speech-related questions too.
That said, keep in mind that although this is the traditional order of speeches, you don’t have to follow it exactly or at all. Every couple’s situation is different. At the end of the day, this is your wedding and you decide the right wedding speech order for your celebration. Use this wedding speech order guide as a starting point and tweak and adjust accordingly.
Who Speaks First at Weddings?
Traditionally, the father of the bride gives their speech first at the wedding reception, says Trista Croce, a wedding planner and founder of luxury wedding planning and event company BTS Event Management based in Phoenix, Arizona.This is because the bride’s parents were typically the ones hosting the wedding. However, for many couples, this may or may not be the case. Often the groom’s parents pitch in for wedding costs or the couple may cover everything themselves. So, in these cases, it’s really up to the couple to decide who should speak first. It can be whoever hosts the wedding, the best man, or they can go with the father of the bride if they choose to stick to tradition.
The Traditional Wedding Speech Order
1. The Father of the Bride or Parents of the Bride
The father of the bride speech is often one of the most special and tear-jerking speeches at the wedding reception—and it’s usually the first toast given. The father of the bride will typically start off by welcoming guests and thanking them for coming. The speech can also include a heartfelt anecdote about the bride and some words of wisdom for the happy couple. The mother of the bride or another close member of the bride’s family can also say a few words.
2. The Father of the Groom or Parents of the Groom
Next up in the traditional wedding speech order, according to Croce, is the father or parents of the groom. Some couples, however, opt to have the father of the groom speak at the rehearsal dinner instead, as traditionally the groom’s parents would host the rehearsal dinner while the bride’s parents hosted the wedding. Again, who speaks at the reception and in what wedding speech order, will depend on the couple, their family situation and preference.
3. The Maid of Honor
Following the parent speeches, Croce recommends having the maid of honor give their speech next followed by the best man’s speech. However, some couples opt to flip the order and have the best man speak first and then the maid of honor. The maid of honor speech typically includes an introduction and a bit about their relationship with the couple, personal anecdotes, funny stories, encouraging words and a closing remark with a toast.
4. The Best Man
The last speech on the agenda is the best man speech, which can follow the same format as the maid of honor speech. The best man can start by introducing himself, congratulating the couple, sharing a story about the groom and offering nice words about their new spouse. They can also mix in a tasteful joke or two and end with a wedding toast to the newlyweds and their future together.
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The Master of Ceremonies
Although not considered part of the traditional wedding speech order, another “speaker” that can also take the mic during a wedding reception is a master of ceremonies. Some couples will choose to have either someone they know or hire a professional for this role. This, of course, is optional and there are pros and cons to consider, but it can be a fun way to add some structure (and humor!) to the reception.
Do You Have to Follow the Traditional Wedding Speech Order?
Absolutely not! Wedding traditions are just that, traditions. They’re not rules couples must follow. “Family dynamics and friends are so different these days,” Croce says. “This format is not going to suit everyone.” Some people may also not feel comfortable with public speaking and choose not to give a speech. Our tip: use the traditional wedding speech order above as a guideline and decide on the wedding speech order that makes sense for you, your fiancé, and your guests.
How Many Speeches Do You Have at a Wedding?
According to Croce, tradition dictates that there be no more than four speeches during a wedding reception. Some couples these days, however, are also opting to give a bride speech and a groom speech themselves during the reception to give guests a warm welcome, thank their parents and other VIPs and express their appreciation to everyone who showed up to celebrate their big day.
Whatever you decide, keep the time in mind. If you decide to have more than four speeches during the reception ensure each of them is brief. The last thing you want is for speeches to drag on and cut into other things on the itinerary such as dinner and cutting of the cake. A good rule of thumb, Croce recommends, is keeping the entire speech portion of the reception to 20 minutes, maximum. From there, you can divide up those minutes between the different speakers.
If there are other important people in your lives who would also like to say a few words as well, such as wedding party members (bridesmaids, groomsmen), grandparents, or close friends, the rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for that. Rehearsal dinners are often more casual, intimate, and less structured, which means there’s more wiggle room for additional speakers that won’t have the chance to speak during the wedding reception.
Are Wedding Speeches Before or After the Meal?
Now that you have the traditional wedding speech order mapped out, the next step is planning out when exactly the speeches fit into your wedding reception timeline. Timing is very important, especially with speeches because you want to have your guests’ undivided attention and keep them entertained and engaged all the way through.
If speeches are done too early on during the meal, guests will still be finding their seats, chatting amongst each other, and servers may be shuffling around which can be noisy and distracting for guests. If the wedding speeches are done after the meal, guests may be feeling antsy to get up, move around, and mingle.
The sweet spot, according to Croce, is starting the speeches about 3/4 of the way through dinner as guests are finishing up their meal and still seated. That way, once the speeches are wrapped up, guests will be done eating, tables will start being cleared, and everyone will be ready to hit the dance floor and get the party started.