It is a tradition to have speeches at weddings and you can decide if you wish to have them before or after the meal, depending on the guests speaking and if they are nervous. There are no set rules about who actually gets to speak or for how long but normally the order of speeches are: 1st: Father of the bride or someone on his behalf, 2nd: Father of the groom or someone on his behalf, 3rd The Groom and 4th: Bestman. That would be the main order and if you wish, the bride or bridesmaids may also wish to say something.
The Bride is traditionally radio silent on the big day as she is the “Guest of Honour” and guest of honour don’t have to speak unless they’re winning an award and weddings follow the same etiquette. Of course, some brides do wish to speak and this would usually be after the Grooms speech in case he forgets to say or thank someone!
Speeches before/after the meal?
It is becoming increasingly popular to have the wedding speeches before the meal now. I would say 95% are before the meal. This is the case especially if any or all of the speakers are in any way anxious about their speeches. When they are before the meal, nervous speakers can relax and enjoy their meal once the speeches are complete.
How long should speeches be?
Again, there is no set rule about how long they should be but the attention span of your guests should be taken into consideration. Normally allow 5 mins for each speaker. Most speech experts will agree that the speeches should be as short as possible but covering all of the essentials. Long speeches carry the risk of repetition and guests boredom!
The Bestman adopts the role of toastmaster at the wedding and he starts off by introducing the first person to speak. Traditionally the first speaker is the Father of the Bride.
The Father of the Bride's speech:
The Father of the bride usually welcomes all of the guests and especially the groom’s parents. If the Priest is present, he will usually begin with 'Father……, Ladies & Gentlemen, you are very welcome to the wedding reception of “Mary & Tom”'. He would officially welcome the Groom into the family and perhaps say a few words about him and when he first met him. Before he finishes his speech with a toast of health & happiness to the happy couple, he would then say a few words about his daughter and perhaps a short story from her younger years. He would then hand the microphone back to the best man.
The Father of the Groom's speech:
The father of the groom usually speaks after the father of the bride. Starts by thanking the father of the bride and for his kind words of welcome. He would then say a few words about his son and officially welcome his new daughter in law into the family. He would also toast the bride & groom and wish them both well for the future.
The Groom's Speech:
The groom’s main role during his speech is to thank the guests for travelling to the wedding and also for their kind gifts. He is also expected to thank both sets of parents for their kind words. It is also polite at this point to thank the hotel management and staff for their hospitality & professionalism.
He would then thank the bridesmaids & say how lovely they look, thank them for helping the bride over the last few weeks and on the day.
He would thank both mums if present, and the happy couple would present them with a gift or bouquet of flowers. If there are grandmothers present, they might also receive flowers at this point.
Finally, he would then thank his new bride for marrying him and agreeing to spend the rest of their lives together.
The Bride's Speech:
Although it’s not traditional, it is becoming more popular for the bride to say a few words at her wedding. She will usually thank her parents, the groom’s parents, her bridesmaids and her friends. She will usually end by saying a few words about her new husband.
The Best Man’s Speech:
The best man is normally the last of the speakers and will usually open by welcoming all of the guests. He mentions how he came to know the groom and recall a couple of memorable stories about his past. He is also under pressure to be funny and witty, but the secret to a good best man’s speech is to just be himself.
He will thank the groom, toast the bridesmaids, compliment the groom on his excellent choice of bride and compliment the bride on how she looks.
Tip of the Week:
Keep the speeches short and sweet: like a classy mini skirt: long enough to cover the essentials and short enough to keep it interesting!
Encourage your speakers not to hit the bar too early: a tipsy toaster will be on the verge of sharing too much, it can be already nerve-racking with emotions, alcohol and a microphone.