We give our ultimate guide to weddings speeches

The speeches traditionally take place after the wedding breakfast, usually with the best man acting as toastmaster. However, if the bride’s father, groom or best man is particularly nervous about making his speech, it might be better to start with the speeches, so that they can join in, relax and enjoy themselves, knowing that the worst part is over!

The traditional order of speeches at the reception is:

  1. The bride’s father – alternatively, another male member of the bride’s family may be asked to make the first speech, such as an uncle, godfather or brother. At the end of his speech, he toasts the health and happiness of the bride and groom.
  2. The groom – replies on behalf of his new wife and himself. At the end of his speech, he proposes a toast to the bridesmaids.
  3. The best man – replies on the bridesmaids’ behalf. At the end of his speech, he will read out any messages or cards from absent family or friends. He will then announce the cutting of the cake (if this didn’t take place before the speeches).

If you’re the one making a speech, bear in mind that it should sound as natural as possible, and so you should take some time to practice what is to be said. Try rehearsing out loud facing a mirror – this will give you confidence and the required practice in the proper form of delivery for each part of the speech.

Stand up straight and look around your imagined audience so that this will come easily during the delivery and you will be able to concentrate on putting life into the speech itself.

You might like to write some cue cards with ‘prompt’ words written on them. Remember to join these with a tag or string to ensure that if they are dropped, they are not put back in the wrong order! Cards also have the advantage of looking professional, and will not rustle or wave around like a piece of paper.

Try to keep your speech down to less than ten minutes – any longer and people will start to fidget.

Above all, don’t worry too much about your speech; you’re giving it at a wedding and your audience is bound to be good-natured – many of them will have been in a similar position and will sympathise with any nerves you might have.

The Father of the Bride’s Speech

The bride’s father is the first to speak, although if he is nervous about making a speech, he can delegate this task to a close personal friend or relative of the bride (although he must do this well in advance – not on the day itself!).

The speech is usually of a semi-serious nature, and generally includes:

  • The joy the bride brought to her parents as she was growing up
  • A couple of stories about her life – one perhaps amusing, the other more serious
  • A welcome to the groom into the family and an expression of the hope that it will be gaining a son rather than losing a daughter
  • A welcome to the groom’s parents
  • If the bride and groom have been together for some time, he may include a story concerning the both of them
  • Advice to the couple, usually related to his own experiences with his wife – the bride’s mother
  • The toast to the Health and Happiness of the couple

The Groom’s Speech

The groom replies on behalf of his new wife and himself, thanking the guests for their good wishes and gifts; their parents for being their parents and all those who have helped to make the wedding ceremony and the reception a success – concluding with the bridesmaids, to whom he proposes a toast to.

He begins by responding to the bride’s father’s toast, and might mention the following:

  • His appreciation to his parents for his upbringing
  • The thanks he owes them for his start in life – and for any particular sacrifices they have made on his behalf
  • His gratitude to his new in-laws for hosting the wedding and allowing him to marry their daughter
  • A story about meeting his bride, of their engagement, difficulties or fortunes
  • His intention to devote himself to the happiness of his bride
  • Thanks to the guests for their presents and good wishes
  • Appreciation of all the people who have helped with the wedding arrangements
  • Particular thanks to his best man for his assistance
  • Compliments to the beauty of the bridesmaids and his thanks for their help
  • Finally he proposes a toast to the bridesmaids
  • It is traditional for the bridegroom to present each of the bridesmaids with a small present during his speech (or the bride may do this before the wedding). These presents usually comprise some small piece of jewellery, such as a silver chain with a pendant or a locket or a pair of earrings.

The Best Man’s Speech

The best man replies on behalf of the bridesmaids. His speech should be light-hearted and amusing, and from this point there should be no reference to emotional references or serious topics.

In his speech he should:

  • Congratulate the bride and groom
  • Thank the groom on behalf of the bridesmaids for the good wishes and gifts they received
  • Thank anyone who has been of particular assistance to him
  • Thank anyone the bride has asked him to acknowledge on her behalf

His speech may include funny stories from the groom’s past but should not under any circumstances cause embarrassment or offence to anyone. He should also mention close family members or friends who are unable to attend the wedding.

He finishes his speech with a toast to the bride and groom’s future happiness before reading out any telegrams, cards or e-mails from absent guests. If there are too many, he could just read out the senders names.

He will then announce the cutting of the cake (if this didn’t take place before the speeches).