Wedding speeches play a huge role in most weddings and are often looked forward to with great anticipation by the wedding guests while often dreaded by those actually having to give a wedding speech.
Traditionally there are three key speakers during the wedding;
- Father of the Bride
- Best Man
If you are someone giving a wedding speech knowing the basic do’s and don’ts of wedding speaking will make your job much easier.
However there are no hard rules, the day should reflect the couple so you can break with tradition in order to tailor proceedings to suit the happy couple. But before making any radical changes always check with the bride and groom (you might want to put the brass band/white doves/Jedward tribute act on hold until you have their say so).
How to conduct the speeches…
Your wedding might have an official master of ceremonies (MC) to conduct proceedings and add a bit of flair. Changing between wedding speeches can get messy so to avoid slip ups it’s best that the key speakers discuss beforehand exactly how the speeches will run to keep everything moving smoothly with no awkward pauses and mumbled hand-overs between the speakers.
Decide the order of speakers (see the list below) and if required choose one of you to act as MC, introduce each speaker and signify the start and end of the speeches as a whole. If you are opting to have a stand in MC try and choose someone who has had experience of public speaking or who is comfortable filling the role.
Alternatively as long as each speaker knows who they are handing over to they can introduce themselves.
If you require an official master of ceremonies we’d recommend you contact the Guild of International Professional Toastmasters to find a master of ceremonies in your area.
The Key Speakers…
Father of the Bride
- Position – First
- Tradition – Welcomes the guests, in particular the groom’s family.
- Thank You’s – Thanks all the guests for attending and the groom’s family for any contributions they have made.
- Toasts – To absent friends.
- Position – Second
- Tradition – During the thank you’s the groom presents gifts to certain members of the wedding party.
- Thank You’s – Thanks the key wedding party members, bridesmaids, ushers, pageboys, best man, etc. Also thanks both mothers.
- Toasts – To the bridesmaids.
- Position – Third
- Tradition – Speaks about the groom, rarely kindly but always with humour. Commonly known as “the roast”. It is also the best man’s duty to read out messages from invited guests or family who couldn’t attend.
- Thank You’s – Thanks the newlyweds for their gifts and the groom’s kind words on behalf of the bridesmaids, ushers, etc.
- Toasts – To the happy couple.
Not every wedding chooses to stick with tradition or might be required to have alternative speakers stepping in to fill roles.
Alternate Father of the Bride – It is possible the father of the bride not be able to attend the wedding in which case this speech is given by the person responsible for giving the bride away or an older sibling, family member or friend.
Chief Bridesmaid – It is becoming increasingly common in the US for the chief bridesmaid to speak. She has no official role as such and no formal thank you’s or toast to give. If a bridesmaid is giving a speech we’d always recommend it is written before hand rather than whatever comes to mind when taking the microphone.
Badly conceived or ill prepared speeches rarely go well unless the speaker is also a full time stand-up comic.
Bride – Some bride’s prefer to be seen and heard on their big day and give speeches. This can be a great thing, after all it is her big day and she is the star of the show. However once again we would recommend the speech is carefully constructed and written ahead of the big day.
Wedding Toasts – Bringing the speeches to an end…
Quite often at weddings no one takes charge and there is nothing to signify they have come to a close or what is coming next.
Make sure once the final toast has been given somebody gives a clear indication of what will happen now the speeches are over. This might mean the guests heading outside while the room is reset for the entertainment if it’s a smaller venue, or could mean handing things over and introducing the band or DJ or asking guests to ensure they have signed the guest book or smiled for the photographer.
This is an ideal role to fall to the best man as he will have been the last (and hopefully hilariously triumphant) speaker.
And while we’re on the subject (and forgive us for appearing pedantic) but just to clear up the difference. A wedding speech is the whole thing, wedding toasts are what come at the end of the speech, the moment when the speaker actually proposes the wedding toast. Each wedding toast itself varies (as outlined above) as will all the jokes in the speeches… we hope.
Good luck with your speech and if you have any queries please feel free to contact our team at any time.
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