The Traditional Wedding Speech Order Explained

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Confused about the order of speeches at a wedding? We explain who goes first, when and why

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The wedding speeches are usually given at a couples’ wedding reception, either before or after the meal.

Getting the wedding speech order right is important for smooth running of the day.

Here’s a breakdown of when each speech should be, what it should traditionally include and the best time to have your speeches during the reception.

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What is the Traditional Wedding Speech Order?

The traditional wedding speech order goes father of the bride, groom, best man and other toasts. Obviously, this is for a heterosexual wedding and if you're a same-sex couple then this traditional order doesn't really make much sense.

You might have two brides or no brides – so what does that mean for a father of the bride speech or a groom speech? Luckily, we’ve covered all the different ways same-sex couples can reinvent the speech section of their wedding, and below we’re just going to look at the traditional speech order.

Traditionally, women don’t even get a word in, but many brides now choose to give a speech, as do the bridesmaids or maid of honor, if there any.

If you are including these, the order should go: father of the bride, groom, bride, bridesmaids/maid of honor, best man. The best man’s speech always goes last.

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Father of the Bride Speech

Kicking off the wedding speech order is the father of the bride speech. It is especially important the father of the bride is first if the bride’s family have contributed a considerable amount towards the wedding or even paid for the whole thing.

The father of the bride should:

  • Welcome the guests he is hosting and thank them for coming
  • Welcome the groom into the family and lead the toasts to absent friends and family
  • Compliment the bride, tell some heartfelt stories about her and say how proud you are
  • Praise the groom and explain why you think they’re such a great couple
  • Toast the newlyweds
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Groom’s Speech

Image: Alex Tenters Photography

The father of the bride’s speech leads into the groom’s speech. Traditionally the groom should:

  • Respond to the toast to the newlyweds by the father of the bride
  • Thank the guests for attending and their gifts
  • Thank both sets of parents
  • Compliment his new bride
  • Give out thank you gifts and say a few words about key members of the wedding party. Toast and compliment the bridesmaids here
  • Toast the bride’s parents if they are hosting
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Best Man Speech

The best man’s speech finishes off the wedding speeches – no pressure! The best man’s speech is traditionally expected to deliver the laughs so be sure to add in a few classic best man jokes.

The best man should:

  • Echo the groom’s toast in thanking the bridesmaids
  • Compliment the couple, particularly the bride – try not to give her a roasting
  • Tell anecdotes about the groom (but remember to take the audience into consideration when you decide which stories to tell!)
  • Read out messages from absent friends and family
  • Lead a final toast to the bride and groom

Alternative Wedding Speeches

Many weddings now include speeches from the bride and the bridesmaids or maid of honor in the wedding speech order. Here’s what they should include.

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Bride’s Speech

A relatively new trend is for the bride to give her own speech, or to join the groom in a joint speech. if giving her own speech, the bride should:

  • Thank her guests for coming
  • Thank her parents, especially if they are paying for the wedding
  • Thank her bridesmaids and give them gifts if the groom gives his ushers gifts during his speech
  • Compliment her groom and tell a romantic/funny anecdote about him
  • Raise a toast
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Bridesmaids/Maid of Honor Speech

Coming before the best man speech, this is a chance for the maid of honor to share her own funny anecdotes about the bride. The bridesmaids may like to share a short speech between them. Some bridal parties are choosing to turn the maid of honour speech into a big occasion and prepare speeches, songs or videos that include all the bridesmaids and ushers.

The bridesmaids/maid of honor should:

  • Thank the bride and offer a story or compliment
  • Compliment the ushers
  • Toast the newlyweds
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When Is the Best Time for Wedding Speeches?

Traditionally the wedding speeches take place after dinner, with the father of the bride occasionally giving his before the meal.

Increasingly couples are choosing to mix the wedding speech order up. It might be that you decide to do the speeches before the wedding breakfast so the speech-givers can then relax and enjoy the meal, or have a speech between each course so the guests don’t have to listen to a solid block of speeches.

The best time for wedding speeches depends on the schedule of your day. Should you have a long gap between the ceremony and reception, your guests are unlikely to want to wait for their food until the end of the speeches. If you are having an informal meal like a buffet, there won’t be a chance for speeches during courses. Most couples choose to have speeches after dinner when everyone is satisfied and had a chance to relax.

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Four Tips For Keeping Your Wedding Speeches Running Smoothly

When deciding your wedding speech order, whether you go traditional or not, there are a few important things to consider.

1. Think about how the person before you will end their speech. If they let you know, you can then alter your speech so it starts referencing the ending of theirs.

2. Ask the person before you to introduce you. This saves you from having to clumsily introduce yourself to the room and lets you know when it’s ok to start your speech.

3. Ask the other speech-givers what jokes and toasts they plan on including in their speeches. That way you can make sure you don’t repeat them and can mix it up a bit so you can do different ones.

4. The same goes for anecdotes. Particularly if there is more than one best man or if the father of the bride is a bit of a character. You don’t want to bore the guests by repeating familiar stories.