All your wedding speech order questions—answered.
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.
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.