Featured speech at wedding. From photo by The Consortium, on Flickr
The traditional wedding speeches order became well-established during a time when men dominated the political and social landscape. It is not surprising, then, that is it only men who make wedding speeches and toasts at weddings where traditions are being closely observed. As women gained social standing in their own right, more modern approaches to toasts and speeches for weddings began to emerge. It is not uncommon, today, for women to speak on their own behalf at wedding receptions rather than to have the father of the bride, the groom, or the best man speak for them. The inclusion of both genders has expanded the number of speeches seen in most modern celebrations and has been accompanied by greater variation in the wedding speeches order.
Modern Wedding Speeches Order
Among couples seeking to strike a balance between the traditional wedding speeches order and a more contemporary, gender-inclusive ordering of wedding speeches, the following sequence is popular:
(1) Mother of the Bride
MC Speeches: The Mother of the Bride. Photo by babasteve, on Flickr
It has become increasingly accepted, particularly in theUnited States, for the bride’s mother to give the opening speech. In that speech, she most often begins by welcoming guests to the reception, expressing her pleasure at their presence, and inviting the guests to enjoy the festivities. After the welcome, the bride’s mother may comment on the loveliness of her daughter, particularly on this special day, and on her gratitude to the groom for the joy he brings to her daughter’s life. At this point, it would be customary to acknowledge the groom’s parents and the joining of the two families. The mother of the bride would then conclude with a toast to the bride and groom for a happy marriage.
As with a traditional wedding speeches order, the groom is often the second person to speak at a contemporary wedding. Again, the groom takes this opportunity to make the first reference to the bride as his “wife,” as he expresses his gratitude for her. If the bride’s mother opened with a speech and toast to the bride and groom, the groom would acknowledge his mother-in-law’s gesture and express intent to the bride’s parents to be a worthy husband and son-in-law. Depending upon who is paying for the wedding, the groom may also extend thanks to the bride’s parents or his parents for the party. For many weddings, today, all (or a significant portion of) the financial responsibility for the wedding is borne by the bride and groom, particularly if they have both been in the work force for any length of time prior to the marriage. In such cases there would be no expression of thanks for the reception. The groom would, however, thank his parents for having nurtured and guided him to adulthood. Finally, the groom generally concludes with thanks, gift-giving, and a toast to his best man and groomsmen/ushers. In a departure from tradition, the groom would not address the bridesmaids or maid/matron of honor or chief bridesmaid.
(3) Best Man
After the groom’s speech, a modern wedding speeches order typically features the best man’s reply to the groom on behalf of himself and the groomsmen/ushers. The best man does not speak on behalf of the bride’s attendants in a contemporary speech line-up. He will acknowledge the honor that the groom bestowed upon him and the groomsmen by inviting them to participate in the wedding. Upon thanking the groom for the gifts, and congratulating the groom and his bride, the best man often concludes with a toast to the groom’s parents, persons with whom he has likely enjoyed a relationship over the course of many years.
(4) Wedding Officiant
With this popular modern variation on wedding speeches order, the mother of the bride, the groom, and the best man deliver their speeches and toasts prior to the meal. They may be followed by the wedding officiant or senior family member if an invocation is to be delivered immediately preceding the meal service.
Wedding Speeches Order: The Bride's Speech. From photo by WordRidden, on Flickr.
Immediately following the meal, but before coffee and dessert are served, the modern bride generally delivers her speech. In many cases, the bride will thank the guests for their generous support and for sharing in her wedding day, reiterating to the groom her joy in becoming his wife. Likewise, the bride generally directs words of thanks to her parents, along with assurances that she will always remain a part of their lives. The bride then turns her attention to the maid/matron of honor and her bridesmaids. She typically thanks them for their loyal support and service throughout the lead-up to the wedding, offers gifts to her attendants, and proffers a toast to their good fortunes.
(5) Maid/Matron of Honor
On the heels of the bride, the maid/matron of honor is featured in a modern wedding speeches order. On behalf of herself and the bridesmaids, the maid/matron of honor or chief bridesmaid thanks the bride, not only for the bridal party gift, but for the gift of enduring friendship. She expresses the wish that the bride and groom share a long, happy life together and then addresses the bride’s parents. As with the best man and the groom’s parents, the modern maid/matron of honor salutes the bride’s parents, offering a toast to their health and well-being.
In this fashionable version of a contemporary wedding speeches order, the center of attention now shifts away from speeches and toasts and towards mingling and dancing. After reception rituals such as the cutting of the wedding cake, the tossing of the bouquet, and the removal/tossing of the garter, the final speech is delivered.
(6) Father of the Bride
Wedding Speeches Order: The Bride and her Father. Photo by Ron Henry Photography, on Flickr
As the wedding reception is drawing to a close, particularly at modern weddings in the United States, the father of the bride addresses the room. He thanks the guests for coming to the wedding and expresses the hope that everyone enjoyed themselves. The bride’s father then speaks directly to his daughter, conveying his feelings of love for her and his pride in the woman that she has become – along with the wish that the groom will always respect and cherish his daughter. In the last toast, just prior to the bride’s and groom’s departure, the father of the bride raises his glass with a wish for a long and happy marriage.
The above is a modern take on the traditional wedding speeches order, a popular evolution of historical practice. It is not, however, the only contemporary approach. In a more revolutionary departure from tradition, receptions may include additional speeches from one or more of the following speakers:
* Father of the Groom
* Mother of the Groom
* Groomsmen, whether individually or collectively
* Bridesmaids, whether individually or collectively
* Siblings of the Groom, if not in the wedding party
* Siblings of the Bride, if not in the wedding party
* Other Family Members, particularly those from out of town
* Other Friends, particularly out-of-town friends
* Employers and Co-Workers
* Children, if any
Wedding Speeches Order: Flowers and Jewelry for the Bride. Photo by Grand Velas Riviera Maya, on Flickr.
Here, the wedding speeches order is even more variable. The size and length of the reception, the number of designated guest speakers, and the couple’s preferences dictate the sequence and timing of speeches and toasts. Where the couple wishes to accommodate a large number of speakers, they should be mindful of the wedding guests and their capacity to sit through a long procession of lengthy speeches. The decision as to whether to include introductory MC speeches is a further factor when the speaker list is dramatically expanded. Spacing and short, strictly observed time limits are keys to successfully integrating numerous speeches into the reception.
The bride and groom may also wish to consider shifting some of the speeches and toasts to venues other than the reception. The rehearsal dinner affords an opportunity for siblings, individual bridesmaids, and individual groomsmen to share their good wishes. And out-of-town family and friends may be offered an opportunity to speak at a brunch the morning following the reception. By spreading the speeches and toasts out over several closely allied events, the good wishes are likely to be more fully appreciated.
Whatever wedding speeches order you choose, take care to select one that suits you, your speakers, and your guests – then sit back and enjoy.
Recommendation for Further Reading: Wedding Etiquette
Photo by titanium22, on Flickr