Order of Wedding Speeches — and Tips for Giving a Great Toast

Take it from us, wedding planners in South Dakota and the Midwest for over 10 years, that this is the most traditional order to give your wedding day speeches. However, we know that there can be many variations on this. Example: Maybe the groom’s parents don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a large crowd, so they decide to give their heartfelt speech during the rehearsal dinner (where the smaller group is only family and friends). Or maybe the father of the bride is shy, so the mother of the bride gives the toast on the parents’ behalf.

We specialize in wedding planning in cities like Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, Aberdeen, Mitchell, and Marshall, MN, so this order may change based on your region. Please do whatever suits your situation best, but for planning purposes, here is who should get the microphone first for speeches on a wedding day:

  • Maid of Honor (Because ladies first)
  • Best Man (Typically casual and funny)
  • Parents of the Groom (Heartfelt and welcoming of the bride into their family)
  • Parents of Bride (Full or gratitude for guests and welcoming of the groom into their family — and a nice wrap up of the entire evening)
  • Couple (The best opportunity to thank your guests, wedding party, parents, and new spouse. This final speech also kicks off the dance!)

Tips for Wedding Speeches:

These toasts should take approximately 20 minutes. Don’t miss your sunset pics because your toasts went long! It’s a WONDERFUL idea to hire a wedding planner to make sure they keep your day running smoothly and on time for this very reason!

It’s wedding etiquette that guests aren’t supposed to help themselves to dessert until the cake is cut by the couple. So, don’t keep the good people waiting! Promptly after dinner, cut your cake ceremoniously and let people eat dessert while you give speeches.

Because it’s also good guest etiquette to wait until after speeches to leave if you have to, start your toasts well before the dance, so you have guests’ 100% attention.

Book your photographer and videographer to capture these moments and speeches. Don’t end their coverage too early!

Tips for Writing a Meaningful Wedding Speech

Write the speech well in advance

Write several drafts, check it for errors, and have a trusted friend proofread it to ensure it’s funny, interesting and, most importantly, brief. Avoid embarrassing or taboo topics. Then, practice, practice, practice. After your speech is written, recite it off the page. Then, try to recite it without looking. Know your speech and practice it until you couldn’t forget it if you tried. Bring your notes with you…just in case.

Giving the speech

Make sure guests can hear and you’re holding the microphone properly. If you’re nervous, take a few slow, deep breaths. Remember, you’re surrounded by friends and family and they all want to see you succeed. Keep it short and sweet (like 2-8 minutes). Speak slowly, sincerely and deliberately. It should be long enough to draw in your listeners, but not so lengthy that they start to get bored. Hit the high points and let the crowd get back to socializing. 

Speak genuinely from the heart

Emphasize how much your relationship with the bride or groom means to you by speaking to them directly. It’s normal to get a little choked up! Allow your emotion to guide your words. End by asking guests to raise their glasses to toast to the newlyweds. This will make it clear that you’ve finished and get everyone in the mood for the next speech.  

Introduce yourself to the crowd

Start by letting everyone know who you are. Tell them your name, role in the wedding, and relation to the people getting married. Then, tell a joke or a short funny story about the bride or groom to loosen up the crowd (and yourself). A speech should appeal to everyone, be inclusive, and unite a room. Relating a special memory or inside joke will spark an emotional significance that touches everyone listening. 

Acknowledge people who could not attend

If it’s appropriate, pay tribute to someone who can’t be there whether ill, serving in the military, or have passed away. If you’re going to do this, make sure you get their names absolutely correct.

Offer advice or well-wishes for the future and thank everyone in attendance 

Shift the focus of the speech to the newlyweds and their future together by addressing the bride and groom directly. Wish them health and happiness. If you want, include a short quote to help illustrate what you are saying. Welcome the bride or groom into the family. Bring the speech to a close by thanking the bride and groom, their parents, friends, family, and everyone in attendance. Be gracious and make everyone feel like they’re part of a wonderfully special occasion. 

Good luck! If you need additonal help with timeline order (like speeches!), you can purchase our 158-page wedding planning guidebook, called the Wedding Day Designer, which outlines all these details! Better yet, hire Hitch Studio as your South Dakota wedding planner! Contact us today to hire Hitch Studio as your wedding planner and decorator.

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