The order of speeches at wedding events is more important than you may think. The reason that specific people make toasts and speeches at specific times creates a narrative. It tells the story of the couple’s journey and reveals a deeper level of connection for the audience.
Today’s weddings are very flexible. You shouldn’t feel like you have to adhere to this list. However, if your desire is to follow tradition or simply learn more about wedding traditions, this guide to wedding speech orders will give you what you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who gives speeches at weddings and in what order?
At a traditional wedding reception, the bride and groom speak first. This is followed by speeches from the father of the bride, the father of the groom, the maid of honor, and then the best man.
Do wedding speeches come before or after food?
Speeches should be delivered approximately 3/4 of the way through the reception meal. This allows guests to find their seats and get comfortable.
How long is a wedding speech supposed to be?
Each wedding speech at a traditional wedding should be 3 to 5 minutes long. Any shorter and you won’t get to say what you want. Any longer and you will lose the audience.
How Many Speeches Do You Have at a Wedding?
Traditional weddings, if nobody opts out, have six standard speakers. Sometimes a Master of Ceremonies will be the seventh orator. Recently the mothers of the bride and groom deliver separate speeches to be the eighth and ninth speakers.
What is the Traditional Wedding Speech Order?
Traditionally, the order of speeches at wedding receptions pays respect to the people who have greatly influenced the bride and groom’s lives. Arguably, these friends and family members are partially responsible for making the wedding happen.
The bride and groom will speak first to thank their guests for participating in their union. The father, and sometimes mother, will speak as they traditionally pay for the wedding. The groom’s father and mother will then welcome the bride to the family. Lastly, the maid of honor and the groom will talk about friendship and how the bride and groom have grown.
The Father of the Bride or Parents of the Bride
If asked, any father will tell you that it’s impossible to give a wedding speech without mentioning what his little girl was like growing up and how difficult it is to let her go. Some dads will over-indulge in this sentiment. Some dads are way too shy and will avoid talking about this. Follow these rules to help you find a balance between these two poles.
The father of the bride should:
- The order of speeches at weddings begins with the father of the bride thanking everyone for attending and helping. Identify and thank guests who have traveled a long way and acknowledge people who played prominent roles in the bride’s life. Although they aren’t speaking, they all contribute to the success of the wedding.
- The father of the bride should tell stories about how his little girl has grown into the woman she has become. Consider stories about how she developed through school, what she wanted to be when she grows up, and anecdotes that demonstrate her character.
- Finally, speak directly to the bride and her parents. Welcome them by recounting the story of when you all met each other. This is a good time for a few jokes, but make sure those jokes are wrapped in warmth and acceptance.
The father of the bride should not:
- Don’t just say “Thank You’ to a list of people. Acknowledging prominent friends, family, and wedding party members is appropriate. However, simply naming them does not make them feel welcome or significant.
- You believe that your daughter is perfect, but keep the praise to a minimum. The role of the father of the bride in the order of wedding speeches is to create a sense of unity among all of the guests. Gushing over your daughter will deviate from this.
- Don’t speak for too long. As the first speaker, you will set the tone for others. Respect your time allotment so that others do the same. Beyond that, a short punchy speech is much more engaging than a long drone.
The Father of the Groom or Parents of the Groom
Next up in the order of wedding speeches is the father of the groom. His responsibility is to welcome the bride and her parents to the family. There’s a little more room for jokes with this speech, but everything should be respectful. He should commend his son for the man he has become and wish the couple a long, happy life together.
The father of the groom should:
- Start by thanking the bride’s family. Traditionally, they pay for the wedding. Even if that’s not the case, they have certainly raised a wonderful daughter.
- Tell the story of how your son grew up in a way that explains how he arrived in the arms of his bride. Include a few jokes if that’s your personality, but keep it light and good-hearted.
- Acknowledge how the bride makes your son a better man. You are proud of him and she is largely responsible for his passions and enthusiasm. Let her know how much you appreciate her and how she adds a new layer to the family.
The father of the groom should not:
- Don’t talk about exes. You may mean well when you say “Sarah is so much better than Melissa” but it never comes out well. It will take the entire crowd out of a happy moment.
- Don’t let jokes turn into insults. You know the people you are poking fun at very well. You know if they will appreciate the humor or not. If you don’t know them that well, air on the side of caution.
- Don’t give negative advice. There’s a big difference between “I wish you health, wealth, and happiness!” and “I hope you don’t turn out like your mother and me.” Although the intention is to wish the couple a life full of love, the delivery changes the entire context. Learn the line well and stay within it.
Groom Wedding Speech Order
After both sets of parents have a chance to speak, the traditional order of speeches at weddings has the groom speaking next. The speech usually includes Thank Yous to the guests, venue, and vendors. This is usually the time that the groom distributes gifts to his wedding party.
The groom should:
- Thank both sets of parents for their kind words. Try your best to bring up points they made to make it clear that you were listening and gained some insight. This will both make them feel good and create a connection between all of the speeches.
- Tell the story of how you met the bride. Include stories that paint the picture of your journey and when you realized that she is “the one”.
- Talk about the future and how much you love your new life. The wedding isn’t the destination, it’s the starting line of this new phase of life and you are excited.
The groom should not:
- Don’t fall into the “ball and chain” trope. Feel free to make jokes, but talking about how you’ve just lost your freedom is a little cliché.
- Don’t distribute gifts while you are speaking. Unless you’ve mastered the art of multi-tasking, your speech will suffer. Safe the gifts for a natural break in your speech or assign someone to distribute the gifts while you speak.
- Don’t overdo the Thank Yous. It’s important to pay respect to vendors and guests, but they have already been thanked and your main objective is to portray how happy you are with your new wife. Don’t take away from this.
Bride Wedding Speech
The general order of speeches at a wedding has the bride speaking after the parents and groom. The bride’s speech will be similar to the groom’s but, of course, with her own experiences. It will consist of Thank Yous, gifts for her bridal party, and a message of love to her groom.
The bride should:
- Pay special attention to the bridesmaids. They’ve played a major role in your relationship as well as the success of your wedding. It’s appropriate to show proper recognition.
- Tell your version of how you met your groom and the journey you have taken together. It’s customary to pick on the groom a little bit but, just like everyone else, do your best not to fall into insulting tropes.
- Thank your parents, even if they have been thanked by others. Your relationship is much deeper with your own parents and they deserve your unique perspective.
The bride should not:
- Aside from your parents, don’t repeat Thank Yous. There are plenty of people to thank. Repeating the same people becomes redundant and diminishes the impact of the praise.
- Don’t make it entirely about yourself. Everything about this wedding is mostly about you. Take the opportunity to make it about others for a moment.
- Don’t take more time than the other speeches. Although you are the center of attention, taking longer to speak will throw off the momentum and timing of reception activities.
Maid of Honor/ Bridesmaids Speeches
The order of wedding speeches typically has the Maid of Honor speaking towards the end of the list. She will thank those who have not been thanked yet and spend most of her time gushing about the bride and her first impressions of the groom.
The bridesmaids should:
- Thank the groomsmen and ushers. They are often overlooked, but these people are the oil that keeps all of the gears in good working order.
- Say something about how the groom is such a perfect match for the bride. You can talk about his personality traits, your first impressions when meeting him, or an anecdote about getting to know him.
- Spend most of your time talking about the bride. You know her like no one else and the guests will adore hearing stories that expose her personality and relationship journey with the groom.
The bridesmaids should not:
- Do not tell stories that would embarrass the bride in front of parents or the groom. Some things are better left between you and the bride.
- Don’t forget to offer some good wishes and words of advice. You have a unique perspective on the couple’s relationship and your views are insightful.
- Don’t read your speech from your phone. Take some time to practice the speech so that it comes out naturally.
Best Man Speech
The best man usually comes last in the order of speeches at a wedding. However, the best man and maid of honor often switch. When the best man speaks last, he needs to understand that this is the segway to music and dancing. He’ll have to leave the guests in a fresh, energized mood.
The best man should:
- Keep it short and sweet. Punchy jokes and short stories will keep things concise and energetic, which is exactly what the crowd needs.
- Invite guests to get up and dance once the stage is set up. Often enough, guests are uncomfortable being the first ones on the dance floor. Encourage them to ditch their discomfort.
- Temper your jokes. The pressure to be funny has the ability to push people over the edge of appropriateness. Be aware of the elderly and children in attendance.
The best man should not:
- Don’t think that you have to be funny. Just because Hollywood and stereotypes tell us that the best man is expected to become a stand-up comedian doesn’t make it a rule. Be true to yourself.
- If you are naturally funny, don’t use inside jokes. The groom may appreciate it, but you are there for the entire guest list.
- Don’t fixate on your time in college or the bachelor party. Guests are interested in hearing about a journey that demonstrates the groom’s character arc, not a single moment in time.
Common Speech Tips For Modern Wedding
Modern weddings are a little more free-range when it comes to speeches. The traditional structure has appointed individuals that are expected to rehearse their speech to accommodate a specific amount of time.
Modern weddings will expand the list of appointed speakers to include brothers and sisters and prominent family members. In many cases, guests will be invited to step up to say a few words.
Non-traditional speakers should:
- Introduce yourself and explain your relationship to the bride or groom. This contextualizes what you will say.
- Express your joy and give advice. If you are younger than the couple, explain how they are an inspiration. If you are older, share your life lessons.
- Keep it short. If it’s an open mic situation, there are plenty of people who want their turn.
Non-traditional speakers should not:
- Try not to wing it. Although you didn’t prepare a formal speech, do your best to collect your thoughts and deliver them in a logical order.
- Don’t feel like you should speak if you have nothing to say. An open mic can be tempting but should be avoided if your piece won’t add to the story.
- Don’t neglect the guests. It’s a speech to the room, not a private conversation between you and the happy couple.
Wedding Speech Order Planning Tips
- The traditional order of speeches at weddings is pretty much written in stone. The few variables are if both parents speak or just the father, and which order the maid of honor and best man take. Not too long ago, men spoke on behalf of the family, but this is rarely true today. If you need to cut someone from the lineup due to timing issues, the mothers of the bride and groom are usually the first to go.
- When it comes to the maid of honor and best man, the best man is expected to be funny which is a great vibe to lead into the dance portion of the event.
- Regardless of where you fall in the order of speeches at weddings, there are a few guidelines that, if followed, will help you deliver a better speech.
- Start with a rough draft. Write down the basic structure of your speech and then insert some prominent memories that support what you have to say.
Practice out loud. This will ensure that you are using the right words and speaking at a proper tempo.
- Don’t drink. A champagne toast is in order, but don’t lose your motor skills and ability to speak clearly.
- Be aware of who is speaking before and after you in the order of speeches at weddings. You will have to pick up where they left off and provide a segway for the next speaker.
The traditional order of speeches at weddings is successful because it’s familiar and provides a strong narrative. Each speaker has a role to play and progressively tells the story of the happy couple’s journey. Take pride in your role and what you have to say. Whether you realize it or not, you are a significant piece to the bride and groom’s overall experience.