Wedding Toasts and Wedding Speeches: Essential Differences

wedding toasts

Wedding Toast to Bride and Groom. Photo by Juan Antonio Capó, on Flickr.

Are you confused about the difference between wedding toasts and wedding speeches?  Many people use these phrases interchangeably when, in fact, they are two distinct forms of address.  If you have been asked to speak at a wedding or other formal celebration, then it is important for you to understand the distinction and to be clear as to whether you are being asked to deliver a speech or to offer a toast.

Wedding Toasts

Wedding toasts may be offered as stand-alone tributes or as the conclusions of wedding speeches.  When offered in isolation, a wedding toast is typically a wish for the health and happiness of the bride and groom or a call for blessings to be bestowed upon the marriage.  In modern weddings, toasts of this nature are generally offered by the bridesmaids and groomsmen.  Family members, such as grandparents, and other close friends who are not in the wedding party may also be invited to toast the newlyweds. Being asked to offer a toast is a recognition of the special relationship that you share with the bride and groom and should be seen as an honor.

Wedding toasts need not – and should not – be long and elaborate.  A few well-constructed sentences should be sufficient to express your joy for the couple and your wish for their marriage.  The way in which you express your sentiment, whether serious or humorous, should be natural and in keeping with your character.

You will want to have your glass in hand, poised for the salute, when you being to speak.  A well-phrased toast can be offered within the space of 30 seconds, but should not extend beyond one minute.  Given the short duration of stand-alone wedding toasts and the sometimes back-to-back sequencing of these toasts, the wedding guests may remain seated as everyone drinks to the bride and groom.  If you are offering the sole stand-alone wedding toast at a reception and are not directly following another speaker, you may or may not wish to ask the guests to rise for the accolade.  In this case, you should be guided by the preferences of the bride and groom.

Wedding Speeches

wedding toasts

Bride and Groom Drink to a Toast. Photo by the yes man, on Flickr.

As alluded to above, wedding speeches include a wedding toast that is positioned at the conclusion of a longer speech.  For whom the toast is offered is a function of the speaker and whether it is a traditional or a modern wedding.  A traditional groom’s speech example would conclude with a toast to the bridesmaids.  In a modern wedding where the bride is giving a speech, she may choose to toast her bridesmaids, herself.  In this example, the groom’s speech might conclude with a toast to the best man and the groomsmen.

The length of a wedding speech is generally in the vicinity of 3-5 minutes.  In a traditional wedding speeches order consisting of only three speakers, a slightly longer speech may be accommodated.  A modern order of wedding speeches featuring several additional speakers would call for speeches on the shorter side.  Throughout the wedding speech, the guests remain seated.  When the speaker reaches the end, he or she invites the guests to stand and join in the toast to the honoree.

Whether you’re making a stand-alone wedding toast or a toast that rounds out a speech, take a look around to see that the guests’ glasses are filled before you being to speak.  Usually, a wedding professional, such as a Toastmaster, MC, Wedding Planner/Coordinator, or Venue Manager, will ensure that glasses are filled at the proper time.  If, however, there is not a professional wedding team for the reception, then you will need to take the initiative to ensure that your toast is one in which all of the guests can participate.

Being asked to make a wedding toast or a wedding speech is a privilege.  By taking the time to thoughtfully prepare your address, you show your respect for the bride and groom and the relationship that you enjoy.  The sincerity of your words will resonate with all who hear you speak and will be a memorable contribution to that very special day.


wedding toasts

Photo by AI404, on Flickr.


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Grooms Speech Examples Part II – For Modern Wedding Speech Order

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: Groom in Tux with Red Rose. From photo by A tea but no e, on Flickr.

Speeches for grooms in modern weddings exhibit a great deal of diversity.  As with a traditional wedding speech order, the modern groom has the flexibility to adopt a style that is in keeping with his character.  Additionally, the greater variation in the order of wedding speeches at contemporary receptions is reflected in more variable content in the examples of grooms’ speeches.

Let’s take the following popular wedding speech order as an example on which to build a groom’s speech:

  1. Mother of the Bride
  2. Groom
  3. Best Man
  4. Wedding Officiant
  5. Bride
  6. Maid/Matron of Honor
  7. Father of the Bride

In this sequence, the groom follows the bride’s mother’s speech/toast and immediately precedes the best man’s speech.  Given this ordering, the groom would begin his speech by acknowledging his mother-in-law’s remarks and thanking the bride’s parents for the reception, if applicable.  The groom would end his speech with a toast to his best man and groomsmen.  While the contemporary order of wedding speeches may vary, the important points to note are the opening and closing transitions.  The groom’s speech should always begin and end  with a nod to what has come immediately before and what will come immediately after his remarks.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: Preparing for the Toast. Photo by L.C. Nøttaasen, on Flickr.

Between the opening and closing acknowledgements, there is greater flexibility in the progression of the speech.  Most grooms speech examples favor an arrangement in which general statements are addressed to the guests, at large, before singling out individuals to whom more specific comments are directed.  Typically, the groom will address his parents, his bride, and any other guests of honor whom he may wish to recognize.  The contemporary groom has considerable latitude in the arrangement of these remarks and should string them together in a succession that flows most naturally for him.

Unlike traditional grooms speech examples, the modern groom does not address the maid/matron of honor or the bridesmaids, as those individuals will be addressed by the bride.  Furthermore, the modern groom will want to deliver a speech that is a bit shorter than his traditional counterpart.  With the increased number of speakers in a modern wedding speeches line-up, care must be taken to sustain guest interest and to allow sufficient time for other wedding reception activities.  If the groom’s speech begins to sound like a perfunctory checklist of acknowledgements, then it is time to edit the speech.  In so doing, consider whether some of the thank you remarks can be delivered at the rehearsal dinner or bachelor/stag party.  The guests will appreciate a more focused speech and the groom will have an easier time with its delivery.

The following groom’s speech is an example that is appropriate for a modern speech order.  It is particularly well suited for a groom who is adept at story-telling.

Good evening, everybody.  Doesn’t my mother-in-law, Catherine, look beautiful?  It is clear from whom my wife inherited her charms.  Catherine, thank you for that warm welcome.  Cindy and I are grateful to you and Douglas for hosting this magnificent wedding reception in our honor.  We could not wish for a better start to our married life than in the company of our family and friends.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: Ready for Groom’s Toast. Photo by Rennett Stowe, on Flickr.

And to our guests, we are delighted to have you with us, tonight.  I know that it was an effort for some of you to be here.  We are grateful for the length that you went to in order to celebrate with us and appreciate your generosity.  As Catherine said, albeit more eloquently, I hope you will enjoy the food, the spirits, and the camaraderie – and have a generally good time.  I know that is my intention, and I hope that it is yours, as well.

Before we get to the food, however, I have a few words for my parents, Susan and Jim.  As I was standing at the altar, I glanced down and spotted the two of you in the front pew.  An expression of enormous pride was written all over your faces.  And you should feel proud, as you equipped me with everything I need – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – to move forward in my life.  Do you remember when I was a little boy and someone would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up?  I always said I wanted to be the richest man in the world.  Well, today, that wish has come true.  I enjoy the fortunes of good health, a loving family, loyal friends, and – now – the privilege of being Cindy’s husband.

But there were a few bumps along the road to that happy ending.  Not many of you know about my first date with Cindy.  Or about our second date.  Or about the miracle that there was ever a third date.  The Fourth of July was approaching when I finally steeled the courage to ask Cindy out on our first date; a day at the beach, dinner in Cape May, and fireworks out at the Point.  I was ecstatic when she said yes, and even more so when I saw the little turquoise swimsuit that she brought along.  But the ecstasy would fade on the trip home.  Distracted as I was, I sailed right on past the interchange between the Parkway and the Expressway without ever noticing my error.  Well over an hour later, Cindy asked where we were going.  It was then that I realized we were heading into New York.  Now, I don’t know my way around New York – and driving in the “Big Apple” is not for the faint-of-heart.  And by then, I was definitely feeling faint – and hopeless lost!  I don’t know exactly how long we drove around that night – or how we ever did find our way back home – but the sun was just about to rise when I pulled into her parents’ driveway.  The fireworks display from earlier that night paled in comparison to the fireworks coming from her father, who was not at all pleased by my directional incompetence.  That was around about the time that I gave up any hope of a good-night kiss.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: Awaiting Groom’s Toast. Photo by S.Su, on Flickr.

I hung low for a couple of weeks before asking Cindy out, again.  I assured her that nothing would go wrong this time; we’d go to the Seurat exhibit at the Art Museum, followed by a stroll in the park.  The exhibit was fantastic and, on the way out, I stopped and bought a couple of ice cream cones for us to eat as we walked around.  On the way down the steps, I tripped.  In trying to grab hold of something to break my fall, I ended up covering Cindy in chocolate ice cream and tearing her skirt, to boot.  And thus ended our second date.

I resigned myself to never again look Cindy in the eye and kept my distance for several weeks.  Then, out of nowhere, I got a phone call from her.  The company where Cindy worked was having a Labor Day picnic and she wondered whether I would like to join her for the end-of-season festivities.  Determined not to spoil yet another outing, I drove straight to Pep Boys Auto and bought a GPS device for my car.  It worked:  we made it to the picnic site without a single wrong turn.  And while at the picnic, I avoided any food – such as chili and BBQ ribs – that could end up splattered over Cindy, myself, or any of her colleagues.  To my immense relief, the date concluded without incident – and I finally got my good-night kiss.

Cindy, I’ll never know what compelled you to give me another chance to prove that I am not a total buffoon, but I am glad that you did.  You gave me hope and the reason to once more believe in my self and in my dreams.  Along the way, you revealed yourself to be a kind and caring and joyful person.  I love the way your eyes crinkle up and almost disappear when a smile breaks over your face.  And the way that your left eyebrow rises up a bit as you are about to formulate a brilliant new idea.  I love the way you helped that elderly gentleman in the grocery store last week and how you rescued the little sparrow that had fallen from its nest.  Most of all, I love that you love me and that you have become my wife.  I love you, in return, and will treasure you forever.  Yes, I am, indeed, the richest man in the world.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: The toast. Photo by S.Su, on Flickr.

But for all of my riches, I would be standing here looking a little disheveled were it not for Keith, my Best Man, and my groomsmen Mark and Stephen.  I was so nervous this morning that I could not even properly dress myself.  Keith needed to tie my bow tie while Mark and Stephen fastened my cufflinks.  And they were kind enough to do this without making me feel foolish.  Privately, I think they were worried about whether I would make it to the alter without humiliating myself in some manner.  I would thank them for this, but I have the feeling that you’ll be hearing some embarrassing comments from Keith later in the evening.  So for now, I would simply like to thank the three of you for your unfailing friendship over these many years and to give you these gifts as tokens of my appreciation.

I ask that everyone please rise and join me in a toast to Keith, Mark, and Stephen.  Gentlemen, you mean as much to me as any brother could have meant.  I drink to your health, to many years of friendship ahead, and to the wish that you may one day be as happily in love as am I.

Again, this groom’s speech example is but one of many that would be suitable for a modern wedding speech order.  While this speech features story-telling, you might prefer a more reverent – or irreverent – tone.  Whether your style is pithy or sincere matters less than whether your speech flows effortlessly and reflects those aspects of your personality that you wish to express.


grooms speech examples

From photo by Duncan~, on Flickr.

To read more about the use of humor in speeches, read Mastering the Laugh by Toastmasters International.

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Grooms Speech Examples Part I – For Traditional Wedding Speech Order

grooms speech examples

The Groom. From photo by slgckgc, on Flickr

Grooms speeches vary according to personal taste and whether the wedding speeches order is based upon a traditional or modern sequence.  The wedding speeches order has the greatest influence upon the content, or topics, included in the speech, whereas the groom’s personal taste and natural inclinations will guide the style of the wedding speech.  Grooms for whom wit and satire come easily may want to incorporate a healthy dose of tasteful humor into their speeches.  Grooms who are noted for their ability to spin a good yarn may want to capitalize on that talent by incorporating a bit of story-telling into their wedding speeches.  Touching, heart-felt speeches are suited to grooms who possess a sentimental disposition.  When it comes time to speak, you will want to feel comfortable with your grooms speech.  By choosing a style that reflects your personality and innate strengths, you will be more at ease behind the microphone.

In this post, we’ll examine a grooms speech example that is appropriate for a traditional wedding.  To recap, the traditional order of wedding speeches includes the following speeches in the listed sequence:

  1. Father of the Bride
  2. Groom
  3. Best Man

In this arrangement, the men speak on behalf of the women and, by custom, address very specific topics in their speeches.  Thus, any traditional grooms speech example will include the following:

* Acknowledge the bride’s father’s toast and offer thanks for the reception (assuming the bride’s parents bore the wedding expense)

* Acknowledge the guests and, on behalf of self and wife, offer thanks for their presence, their gifts, and their good wishes

* Acknowledge the bride and offer thanks for becoming his wife

* Acknowledge best man and groomsmen and offer thanks for their help with the wedding

* Acknowledge the maid/matron of honor and bridesmaids and offer thanks for the help they provided to his wife

* Propose a toast to the well-being of the bridesmaids

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: Gifts for Bridesmaids and Groomsmen. Photo by Marina Pics, on Flickr.

If gifts were not given to the bride’s and groom’s attendants at the rehearsal dinner, then the gift-giving would also be incorporated into the groom’s speech.  The groom may also wish to address his parents in the grooms speech.

Here’s an example of how each of the above topics might be addressed by a traditional groom with a sensitive nature:

Hello, everyone.  I would like to begin, tonight, with a few remarks to my father-in-law.  John, thank you for your kind words and good wishes. Lori and I are immensely grateful to you and Jane for the warmth that you have shown us and for your unfaltering support of our union.  A marriage can endure when two people share a deep commitment to each other.  When further surrounded by a loving and nurturing extended family, the marriage will not only endure, it will flourish.  The manner in which you and Jane have welcomed me into your family and received Lori and I – not as children, but as adults in our own regard – enables us to start our married life on the best possible footing.  We are deeply appreciative for the encouragement you have given us and for this wonderful reception where we begin our lives together in the company of family and friends who are so dear to us.  Thank you!

To all of our guests, we also extend our heart-felt thanks.  It means a lot to Lori and I to have you with us on this important day.  Each of you holds a special place in our hearts and in our lives and it is an honor to be able to celebrate our wedding with you.  We are grateful for the effort you made to be here, today, and for your generosity and good wishes.  But most of all, we are grateful for you and for your gift of friendship.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Example: Bride holding bouquet. Photo by apdk, on Flickr

To my bride, Lori, it seems as though words fail me.  You have always been – and will be forever – beautiful in my eyes.  And today, you exude a radiance that takes my breath away.  You cast a glow upon everything and everyone around you, rendering them purer and more lovely than ever.  It is a brilliance that emanates not only from your outward beauty, but from that sparkle within – from all that is good and kind in your spirit and from your joyful love of life.  That you have chosen me – out of all the men in the universe – to be your husband is a source of wonderment and delight.  I look forward to the life ahead of us in which we work, each day, to bring out the best in each other.  We have the potential to live full and gratifying lives and to be a positive influence on those around us.  When the time comes for us to leave this world, I am sure that it will be a better world for our having lived and loved and joined our unique talents.

And that brings me to my parents, for without you, I would not be the man standing here today.  Mom, you are the best mother that I could have had.  Your gentle guidance instilled in me a sense of right and wrong.  Thanks to you, I have a moral compass that will point me in the right direction as I move forward in my life.  I want you to know that no matter how far I travel, I carry with me your teachings and your love.  You will never be far from my thoughts and you will always be in my heart.  Dad, I’ve heard many young men say that it is challenging to follow behind their fathers.  Not so for me.  In your journey through life, you have left footprints that are both large and deep – and that’s not just because you have big feet.  You are the most considerate, fair, and honorable man that I have ever known.  You have an understanding of actions and consequences, which you couple with thoughtfulness.  This allows you to act with confidence and the knowledge that, with each giant step you take, you cause little harm along the way.  You have been a model of courage and consideration and have charted your path in a way that is very clear to anyone who chooses to look.  And I choose to look.  For if I can emulate your decency as I chart my own path, then I will be a man who is worthy of the good name that you have handed to me.

grooms speech examples

Grooms Speech Examples: The Best Man helps the Groom. Photo by lauren nelson, on Flickr.

To Robert, my best man and even better brother, I want to thank you not only for standing beside me today, but for standing beside me for the last 22 years.  We have been friends, playmates, co-conspirators, and occasionally, rival siblings – particularly on the golf course.  And none of that will change.  We have a bond that has been forged by laughter and by tears, by shared victories and minor defeats.  And so it is fitting that you stand beside me and share in my happiness on this day.  I thank you Robert, and also my friends and groomsmen David and Edward, for your loyal friendship and help leading up to this moment.  I don’t know how I would have managed to be here without you.  Lori and I look forward to your ongoing companionship in the years ahead.

To Julie, Lori’s maid of honor and lovely sister, I wish to express my delight in becoming your brother-in-law.  I promise you that I will always respect your relationship with Lori and will do my best to never come between you and your sister – even when the two of you are enjoying your own brand of sibling rivalry.  Julie, and bridesmaids Ashley and Jennifer, I know how hard you worked to help Lori prepare for this wedding.  I am grateful for all that you have done and for how much each of you means to Lori.  I am amazed that, in spite of all of your efforts today, you still managed to look so splendid.  From hair to make-up to dresses and shoes, you each look gorgeous – almost as gorgeous as Lori.  Yet more exquisite than anything is the look of happiness on your faces.  It does my heart good to know that your happiness is for Lori and me.  And for that, I invite everyone to rise and join me in a toast.  Julie, Ashley, and Jennifer.  I wish you all the best that life can hold; a life filled with good health and good fortune.  I drink to your fondest wishes; may all your dreams come true!

This is just one example of a groom’s speech that is appropriate for a traditional order of wedding speeches.  What is most important, from a content standpoint, is that all of the appropriate individuals are acknowledged in the speech.  How you choose to address them is open to greater variation.  You, your honorees, and your guests will feel most satisfied when your speech rings true to who you are as a person.  So, as you sit down to pen your speech, invite your vocabulary and your personality to sit down beside you.  In the end, you’ll be happy that you allowed your inner self to do the talking.


For more information on authentic speaking, read Pamma Durnin’s post, “Just be Yourself!”

grooms speech examples

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Wedding Speeches Order Part II – A Modern Spin

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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

wedding speeches order

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.

(2) Groom

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.

(4) Bride

wedding speeches order

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

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

* Grandparents

* Godparents

* Cousins

* 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

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

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Wedding Speeches Order Part I – The Traditional Approach

wedding speeches order

Speaker in a traditional wedding speech order. From photo by Russell J. Smith, on Flickr

The etiquette surrounding weddings speeches order, and whether you even care about those traditions, will vary depending upon your family’s social standing and geography.  Generally, the higher one’s social standing, the more rigid are the rules proscribed for social occasions such as weddings.  Nuptials for family members of royalty, heads of state, nobility, and even members of certain family clans and religious sects are likely to involve a set of protocols that define an acceptable wedding speeches order from which there is little room for variation or expansion.  In these instances, the bride and groom will want to work with their family protocol officer to ensure that the customary rule of order is observed and that there are no breaches in code of behavior that could be an embarrassment to the couple, the family, or the state.

For the vast majority of families beneath the elite ruling or governing class, the couple has much greater leverage in establishing the wedding speeches order that they wish to follow.  Still, the influence of traditions plays heavily upon that order, particularly when viewed from a geographic perspective.  Among the English speaking countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa remain more tightly bound to a traditional ordering of speeches for weddings than does the United States.  However, more modern approaches to the wedding speeches order have begun to make their way into wedding receptions throughout each of these countries.  So, what, exactly, defines the “Traditional” wedding speeches order, and what are the key features of a “Modern” approach to ordering speeches for weddings?  In today’s post we’ll explore the traditional ordering method.

Traditional Wedding Speeches Order

Historically, most of the English-speaking world adhered to the following pattern for both the content and order of three (3) wedding speeches with embedded toasts:

(1) Father of the Bride

wedding speeches order

Wedding Speeches Order: Proud Father of the Bride. From photo by A tea but no e, on Flickr

According to tradition, the bride’s father, upon introduction by the Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies, is the first to speak.  In his remarks, the bride’s father welcomes the guests to the wedding of his daughter and, on behalf of himself and his wife, thanks the guests for joining them in the celebration.  The bride’s father will then remark upon his daughter and her virtues and will express his pleasure in welcoming his son-in-law to the family.  At the end of his speech, the father’s bride will ask the guests to join him in toasting to the happiness of the bride and groom.

(2) Groom

In the traditional wedding speeches order, the groom offers the second speech.  It is customary for the groom to begin the speech with his very first reference to the bride as his “wife.”  By convention, the groom acknowledges the toast given by his father-in-law and thanks him for the banquet and for his daughter’s hand in marriage, the ultimate gift.  Next, the groom acknowledges the guests, thanking them for sharing in the celebration and for their gifts and good wishes.  Turning his attention to the bride, the groom comments upon her endearing qualities and upon their relationship, and then thanks her for becoming his wife.  Finally, the groom thanks his best man and the ushers for their help throughout the wedding, as well as the bridesmaids and maid/matron of honor or chief bridesmaid for their support of the bride, concluding with a toast to their well being.

(3) Best Man

The third (and final) person to speak in the traditional wedding speeches order is the best man.  He opens his remarks with a “thank you” on behalf of the bridesmaids, to whom the groom just toasted.  It is expected that the best man will express his pleasure in being asked to assume this role in the wedding and, among any other words he may wish to share, that he will compliment the groom on his good fortune in having married the bride.  The best man will conclude by reiterating the groom’s gratitude to the bride’s parents, ending with a toast to their health.

wedding speeches order

Wedding Speeches Order: Wedding bands. From photo by orphicpixel, on Flickr.

Aside from these three speakers, the Toastmaster or MC and the Clergyman or Wedding Officiant (who may be called upon to offer an invocation before the meal is served) are the only other speakers at the reception.  It is common, therefore, that a bit more time is afforded to each speech than would be the case if the speaker count was higher.  After all, the three speakers are expected to convey not only their own thoughts, but thoughts on behalf of others key persons who remain in the background.  Given the length of time allocated to each speaker, the guests generally remain seated throughout the duration of the speech, rising only at the speech’s conclusion where the toast is formally proffered.

The traditional wedding speeches order has endured for generations.  Part of its appeal lies in its simplicity; it is a straightforward convention with easy-to-follow rules.  Nearly everyone, regardless of station, is likely to be highly familiar with the rules, making them easy to follow.  And, as with all traditions, observing the order also honors the forebearers who helped to fashion and propagate the norms.

However, nothing in life is truly static and the same is true of our social norms.  Customs and traditions evolve, sometimes slowly, to reflect the changes in our human relationships and societal institutions.  In our next post, we’ll take a look at more modern approaches to the ordering of toasts and speeches at weddings in the United States and, increasingly, in the other major English-speaking countries around the world. Until then, please leave a comment with your thoughts on wedding speeches order as traditionally observed.


wedding speeches order

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MC Speeches – Should you use a professional MC or a personal MC?


mc speeches

A tuxedo is worn to make MC speeches. From photo by Kent Wang, on Flickr

Once you’ve made the decision to have a Master of Ceremonies for your wedding, you’ll need to consider whether you want to (1) hire a professional MC, or (2) enlist the services of a friend or family member to make the MC speeches and keep your reception moving along.  To help you with that decision, consider the following advantages and potential drawbacks of each choice: 


(1)  Hiring a “Professional” MC, the Pros and Cons


Pros:  A professional Master of Ceremonies will typically have significant experience in hosting a wide range of wedding receptions, both large and small.  The well-qualified MC will know how to keep things running smoothly and will deftly observe your desired wedding speech order.  The professional MC knows how to work a room, knows how and when to employ appropriate wedding jokes for MC speeches, speaks clearly and loudly enough to be heard by all of your guests (even those in the back of the room), and will not look or sound nervous or uncomfortable in the Master of Ceremonies role.  Sounds great, right?  So, what’s the hitch?


Cons:  A professional MC is an added expense to a wedding budget that may already be stretched.  Aside from whether you can afford to expand your budget to accommodate this added cost, you may simply feel as though you cannot justify adding another wedding professional to the mix of professionals currently on your team.  Furthermore, a professional MC won’t know you or your speakers as well as a friend or family member will know you.  You’ll want to be sure that you have a strategy to overcome these drawbacks should you decide to work with a professional MC.


(2) Using a Friend/Family Member as a “Personal” MC, the Pros and Cons



mc speeches

MC Speeches: Lovely white wedding centerpiece. Photo by Grand Vales Riviera Maya, on Flickr.

Pros:  Using a friend or family member as your Master of Ceremonies can be a rewarding and memorable experience for you, your MC, and all of your guests.  A close friend or family member is someone who knows you well, can speak from the heart, and has a vested interest in doing a good job on behalf of you and all of your guests.  Additionally, a friend or family member is likely to know many, if not all, of the people who will be making toasts or delivering speeches.  This facilitates introductions and any special sensitivities or accommodations that need to be extended to a given speaker.  The nature of your personal connection will translate into MC speeches that are meaningful and that carry with them the ring of authenticity – and without the price tag that accompanies a professional host.  While the role of MC can be filled by the Best Man, you should feel free to select someone else as your Master of Ceremonies.  If another friend or family member is up to the task, then this could be an opportunity to give a special person an important role in your wedding, something that he or she would not otherwise have.  When an MC is someone known to you and many of your guests, then your wedding is even more likely to be remembered and fondly discussed for years to come.


Cons:  In all probability, you do not have a professional Master of Ceremonies among your friends or family members.  This means that your candidates for the role will probably be unfamiliar with the various responsibilities of an MC.  He or she may also lack experience in public speaking, in general.  Finally, the choice of one friend or family member over another may give rise to tension within your social or familial network.  As with a professional MC, give some thought as to how you might mitigate these drawbacks before deciding upon a personal MC for your wedding.

Whomever you choose, your Master of Ceremonies, and the MC speeches that he or she delivers, will greatly influence your wedding reception experience. 


So, what will you choose?  Professional or personal MC speeches?  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below.



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MC Speeches – Will they enhance or detract from your wedding?

mc speeches

Short MC speeches can be made by the Best Man. From photo by Phil Hawksworth, on Flickr

MC speeches serve as introductions and transitions to the key speakers at your wedding or other formal event.  When performed well, MC speeches can contribute to a smooth flow from speaker to speaker, from activity to speaker, or from speaker to activity.  They inform your guests of the special connection that each speaker has to you and your event and they establish the speaker’s credibility.  When poorly executed, MC speeches can make for clumsy or awkward transitions, can bore your audience, may diminish the effectiveness of your key speakers, and may even offend some guests.  So, when planning your wedding or event, you should carefully consider whether you want to have a formal Master of Ceremonies and introductions to your wedding speeches and toasts.  Here are three critical factors to weigh in reaching your decision:

1. How many people do you wish to make a toast or speech?


At a wedding reception, the Best Man will almost always make a toast.  If you do not plan to have any other toasts or speakers, then you may or may not want to have a dedicated Master of Ceremonies.  In that case, your Best Man, a disc jockey or band leader, or another member of the wedding party may assume the additional responsibilities that an MC would otherwise perform, such as orchestrating the cutting of the cake, the tossing of the garter and bouquet, and any other rituals you wish to observe.


Today, many couples want to allow additional people to speak or deliver toasts at their weddings. The list of likely speeches might include as many as:


·         The Best Man Toast 

·         The Maid of Honor Speech or Matron of Honor Speech 

·         The Groom’s Speech

·         The Bride’s Speech

·         The Father of the Bride Speech

·         The Mother of the Bride Speech

·         The Father of the Groom Speech

·         The Mother of the Groom Speech

·         The Wedding Officiant Speech or Convocation

·         Bridesmaid Speeches

·         Guest of Honor Speeches


The more speakers that you plan to have at your wedding reception, the more helpful it will be to have a designated MC to coordinate the wedding speech order, make the introductions, and maintain the flow of activities.


2. Who are the individuals that will be speaking at your wedding?


Think about the individuals, themselves, as well as their relationships to you. Are they comfortable with or timid about speaking in public?  Are they likely to ramble on or be short and sweet?  Are they likely to become emotional while speaking, or might they loose all inhibition after their first glass of bubbly?  If you think that speaking at your reception might be a stretch for one or more of your speakers, then having an MC to work with may help to ensure a positive experience for you, your speakers, and your guests.


3. How much time do you have for your reception?


Do you have only a couple of hours for your reception, or will you be partying well into the wee hours of the morning?  Think about how much time you have and how you want to use it, allocating time for greetings, eating, dancing, rituals, photographs, and so forth.  If your time is limited, if there will be multiple toasts or speeches, or if your speakers tend to be verbose, then an MC can work to ensure that your precious reception time is spent as you wish.

Take the time, up front, to think about these questions.  Formulating your responses is a great aid to refining your vision of your wedding reception.  Allow that vision to inform your decision regarding a Master of Ceremonies and MC speeches.  Of course, once you decide to have an MC, you’ll have a number of additional questions to ponder, including whether to use a professional or a friend or family member.  So, be sure to come back to learn more about your next steps toward realizing the wedding of your dreams!


Do you have a question about MC speeches, the role of a Master of Ceremony, or wedding speeches and toasts in general?  Leave a comment in the box, below, and we’ll be sure to get you an answer.



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