You’ve been planning your dream wedding ceremony for months, and every detail has fallen into place. As the big day comes closer and you’re planning out the timeline for the day, it hits you. Don’t people typically give speeches at weddings?
Yet you’re now stuck, unsure what to do. Who should you ask to give a speech? When exactly should they be expected to provide it? Do my spouse, or I have to give one?
Fear not. We prepared this breakdown of who typically prepares a speech for weddings and what the address should include.
Speech vs. Toast
Before diving into who usually gives a speech at weddings, it’s essential to clarify the difference between a wedding speech and a memorable wedding toast.
According to Geoff Woliner, a professional wedding speech writer and owner of Winningwit.com, toasts are quick.
“You just want to give a quick welcome to everybody,” he says. “You want to thank people by name who showed up. A lot of people came from out of town. You want to give a shout out to the people who put everything together; thank you for organizing all this good stuff.”
A toast, Woliner explains, a successful wedding toast is really about acknowledgments and giving well wishes to the couple. A speech, on the other hand, is more about stories, deep emotion, and sentimentality.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Believe it or not, the wedding celebration isn’t the only speech-giving opportunity. The night before rehearsal dinner is an excellent time for certain guests to offer their congratulations, share their thanks, or share a funny story or two about the bride and groom.
Traditionally, the groom’s parents hosted rehearsal dinners. However, nowadays, the rehearsal dinner could be hosted by friends, relatives, or even the happy couple themselves. Regardless, it is customary for whoever hosts the rehearsal dinner to say a few words.
The event hosts will usually make the first wedding rehearsal dinner speech during the main course. The purpose of this speech is to address everyone who came, welcome family and friends, and say a short bit about the bride and groom.
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
While the bridal party wedding day speeches are typically reserved for the maid of honor and the best man, the rehearsal dinner is an excellent opportunity for any bridesmaids or groomsmen to stand and say a few kind words about the to-be-hitched couple.
Because the rehearsal dinner speeches are more relaxed and spontaneous than the wedding day speeches, anyone in the wedding party who wishes to make a speech can stand and raise their glass or tap it with a piece of silverware to grab everyone’s attention.
The speech should be no more than a couple of minutes long and should remain upbeat.
The Bride and Groom
Finally, the bride and groom often take the opportunity during the rehearsal dinner to make a speech thanking their family and friends for being with them and helping with the wedding festivities.
This speech does not have to be lengthy, merely a short expression of gratitude that will make everyone in attendance feel welcome and appreciated.
The Wedding Reception
The speeches given during a wedding dinner or reception often rank high on the guest’s list of favorite or memorable events of the day.
Although anyone you want can give a speech on your wedding day, a few individuals are generally expected to prepare something to say.
The best man speech happens during dinner. This speech is generally playful and full of jokes–some even at the groom’s expense–and stories about the friendship between the best man and the groom.
This speech is an opportunity for laughs and silliness that every guest will appreciate. However, according to Katelyn Peterson of WeddingWords, if funny isn’t your thing, don’t force it.
“If you’re not a funny person,” she says, “then don’t try to be funny. But, if you are more playful and lighthearted, definitely lean into that and play that side of your personality up.”
The best man will usually end the speech by asking everyone to raise their glass and toast the bride and groom.
Maid or Matron of Honor
The maid of honor will be another key speech giver on your wedding day. The Maid of Honor speech, which also usually takes place during dinner, is often a mix of sentimental, sweet, and funny.
Typically, she will reflect on her relationship with the bride in the speech, share heartwarming personal stories or a fond memory, and mention the groom. The Maid of Honor also ends her speech with a toast to the bride and groom.
Father of the Bride
One of the most anticipated speeches at a wedding comes from the bride’s father. According to Geoff Woliner, the father of the bride speech is “one constant across every single culture.”
Traditionally, this is a heartfelt speech that talks about the bride and celebrates the marriage milestone.
The father of the bride’s speech should also mention the groom. This mention could include funny anecdotes about him or how the groom asked for his blessing. Anything positive that paints him in a good light and welcomes him into the family.
Like the rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom can give a short speech after the traditional addresses. This speech is another opportunity to thank family, friends, and wedding guests for showing up to celebrate with you.
Speeches and toasts are some of the most memorable parts of a wedding. They are heartfelt, funny, and sentimental ways to celebrate the newly married couple.
There are no set rules as to who should give a speech at a wedding. It’s up to you who you ask. It is wise to stick to a shortlist of people you trust and want to hear speak about you and your new spouse to keep the day moving and avoid unwanted or embarrassing stories.