The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Speeches
Being asked to deliver one of the wedding speeches should be an honour, in theory. But in reality, it can feel more like an unfair punishment for being a great friend or a beloved sibling. Let’s face facts, wedding speeches are not easy to come up with…you need to figure out how much you want to share with the audience, how to make the crowd laugh, and of course, how to overcome the general fears about getting up to speak in front of a large, attentive group.
For many people, public speaking is not something they do that much. Certainly, there are plenty of people for whom it will be the biggest speech they’ve given in their lives in terms of what’s at stake. Gulp.
Not to worry, the team at Pink Book is here to help guide you! Watch the video below to see what the wedding experts have to say on the topic, and read for more helpful advice.
In this blog we cover:
- Who gives speeches at a wedding?
- How many speeches should there be?
- How long should the speeches be?
- How to write a good wedding speech
- Things to include
- And things NOT to include
- The order of speeches at a wedding
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Speeches
1. Who gives speeches at a wedding?
Often the father of the bride or best man makes the first toast at the wedding reception. This is the most formal of all wedding toasts, and it occurs only after all the wedding guests have been provided with a glass of champagne. At a sit-down dinner, the toast takes place as soon as everyone is seated; at a cocktail reception, it is made after the couple enters the reception. The toast should be brief, lasting no more than a minute or two at most. It’s fine if the best man is the only toast made, though a companion toast from the maid or matron of honour is becoming more popular as well.
Fathers of the bride and groom often say a few words, especially if either is in the role of host. Mothers of the bride and groom are even getting in the mix, as well as the bride and groom themselves (especially if they are hosting the event). It is also a good idea to have the bride speak, even if it is just to say thank you to everyone.
Really, there is no set of rules as to who needs to make a speech anymore. Times are changing and couples aren’t as fussed about traditions anymore.
However, it’ is best to know in advance who is going to say something, and in what order; anyone not on the list should check with the couple before making an impromptu speech at the reception. Make sure whomever you ask to make a speech is comfortable with public speaking. Your wedding toasts should not be a burden to someone.
Image Source: ZaraZoo Photography
2. How many speeches should there be?
Speeches need to be limited to a maximum of six people. Have three people speak after the starter, then serve your main meal and then have another three speak. You want your speeches to be entertaining and straight to the point and not long stories because your guests will start to get bored. It is recommended to go no longer than three to four minutes per person.
If you have an MC at the wedding, the number of speeches can be even less, as the MC can handle most of the formalities.
3. How long should the speeches be?
Everyone has had to sit through long speeches, dragging on and on. And waiting impatiently for a speech to end is not something anyone enjoys. That is why you need to plan the timing of your speech and make sure you don’t take too long. But also don’t rush and ramble through it too quickly. That will give the impression that you really don’t want to be doing this, even if it might be true.
If you’re the only one speaking, your speech might need to be fairly long (maybe even up to 10 minutes). If there are several other speakers, you may only need to be up there for a few minutes. Three to five minutes is fairly common for a toast. Check with the bride and groom who else will be speaking and estimate how long each person should take.
Wedding planner prefers to have a copy of everyone’s speeches for three reasons:
- They need to make sure that there’s no repetition
- to ensure that the speech flows smoothly into the next one
- and so that they can notify the kitchen staff when to be ready the next meal or drinks
Have someone to keep an eye on the people speaking, so that they do not get carried away.
4. How to write a good wedding speech
The golden tip for public speaking, “Make a point and tell a story or tell a story to make the point.” So for wedding speeches: here’s the subject of the speech, here’s a quality they have and then tell a story about that. Remember that you are making this speech for your friend or family member and try not to be too stressed about it. If a slip-up happens, they will understand.
A good way to get started is to set an outline or big idea and then work backwards. What do you want the main point of the speech to be? Once you figure that out you can plan how to get there. Is there something special that comes to mind – a story, or a song, or experience? Work from there to format the toast and fill in the details.
If you are still in the dark about where to start, it is always a good idea to watch some wedding videos to get inspired. There are loads of funny and emotional speeches you can find on Youtube. But don’t copy the speeches directly from those videos! Just use them as a guideline to see what others have said and what works and doesn’t.
Below are some helpful tips on what to include and what to leave out of your speech:
Things To Include
- Open by briefly mentioning how you know or are related to the bride or groom.
- Thank guests, other members of the wedding party and the hosts of the occasion. You may also want to acknowledge people who wanted to be at the wedding but couldn’t for whatever reason.
- Give some genuine, heartfelt praise, not just for the friend or family member who asked you to make a speech but also for his or her new husband or wife. After all, this speech isn’t just about your BFF or your brother ― it’s also about the couple as a whole.
- Weddings are personal occasions and so full of emotion. Your speech should include personal touches or details that match that.
- Don’t forget to end by asking guests to raise their glasses to toast to the newlyweds.
Things NOT To Include
- Tempting as it may seem, copying wedding speeches you found on the internet is a big no-no.
- Steer clear of crude language. That means skip the swearing and any explicit stories, no matter how entertaining you think they are.
- It might seem obvious but please don’t include any mentions of the bride’s or groom’s past boyfriends or girlfriends.
- Don’t make fun of the new husband or wife. Some gentle teasing might be appropriate if it’s directed at your friend or family member, but painting their new husband or wife in an unflattering light is not a good look.
Photo by ZaraZoo Weddings
5. The order of speeches at the wedding
1. Father of the Bride
Traditionally, the father of the bride speaks first, often before dinner. He welcomes the guests, including the groom’s family, thanks everyone for coming, talks about his daughter and her new husband and toasts the happy couple.
Image Source: Hitched
2. The Groom
The groom follows, often after dinner. He responds to the father of the bride’s toast, thanks the hosts and everyone else who has helped with planning the wedding, says something about his new wife and toasts the bridesmaids. Sometimes the groom will say something sweet about how the couple’s relationship started and their wishes for the future. But this isn’t mandatory. If you want to stick to the formalities, that is also fine.
3. The best man and maid of honour
The best man then responds to the groom’s toast. Traditionally he should talk about the groom, how he knows him, mention the bride and throw in a few embarrassing stories that will get a laugh. Nowadays, the best man and maid of honour speak together and share stories about how they know the bride and the groom.
Examples of great wedding speeches