If you’re starting to think about your wedding speeches, you might be wondering who traditionally says what. In recent years, couples have been moving away from tradition and following a more relaxed approach to their wedding speeches.
You can do whatever works for you with your wedding speeches, but the traditional order of wedding speeches is as follows: father of the bride, groom, best man and then other toasts.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for brides and maids of honour to make speeches too!
We asked wedding speech writer Marc Blakewill from All Write on the Night to give us some expert tips on who says what in a wedding speech, and crucially, what you shouldn’t say…
Wedding Speeches: Who Says What
What Should the Father of the Bride Say?
Traditionally, weddings are hosted by the bride’s parents, which meant the father of the bride would give the first toast. If the father of the bride isn’t present, this role can be filled by a close family friend.
Whoever makes the first speech should toast the newlyweds. Speech writer Marc shared the following dos and don’ts for the father of the bride’s speech:
The father of the bride should:
- Tell stories from the bride’s younger years. What were her first words, ambitions, driving lessons like? Guests will love these tales and the father of the bride is best placed to tell them.
- Mention the key people in the bride’s life, for example, her mother, siblings and friends (including absent ones). The father of the bride can give a voice to those who aren’t speaking.
- Welcome the groom (or other bride!) with wit and warmth. What were your first impressions like? Did you think they were nervous? Do you have any in-jokes? Keep it real, rather and formal.
The father of the bride shouldn’t:
- Make their speech a dry list of thank yous – include a little joke with each person you need to thank, and your guests will be thanking you.
- Go overboard on the praise – even if you think your daughter could win the nobel prize for wonderfulness, be careful not to over-praise. Add in one or two silly stories too to keep it balanced.
- Speak for too long – six to eight minutes is plenty of time for a speech, especially as you’re most likely the first of three speakers. The guests will be excited and eager to listen – make sure they’re still feeling like that for the groom’s turn.
The father of the bride should traditionally thank guests for coming and participating in the wedding, thank anyone who has contributed to the cost of the wedding, compliments and praises the bride and welcomes the groom into the family and ends with a toast to the newlyweds.
What Does The Groom Traditionally Say?
An easy way to begin the groom’s speech is to thank the bride’s family for welcoming you and thanking the father of the bride for his kind words.
Marc suggests that the groom should follow these rules in his speech:
The groom should:
- Tell your story; how did you meet, what was your first date like, how did you know they were the one, how you can laugh at each other. But keep it snappy to keep everyone happy.
- Use a good amount of humour so the speech doesn’t sound too sentimental. It will actually allow you to sneak in more heartfelt stuff, so it’s win-win.
- Save the best ‘til last. Talk about how much you love your new wife and leave these lines until just before your final toast for maximum impact and to add a natural flourish to your speech.
The groom shouldn’t:
- Overdo the superlatives: wonderful, amazing, fantastic etc. Use these sparingly and they will have more of an effect.
- Spend too much time thanking the venue or the wedding planner. This is your wedding speech, not a Trustpilot review. Each word is precious, so use them wisely.
- Give out gifts during the speech. It can be clunky and time-consuming. You want to give a memorable speech, not turn it inot a school prize-giving ceremony.
The groom has a lot of people to thank – including the father of the bride, the guests, both sets of parents, his best man and groomsmen and the bridesmaids. He should compliment his bride and bridesmaids and lead toasts to them both.
What Should the Best Man Say?
There’s a lot of pressure on the best man to be funny, but there are a few things to think about alongside that. Marc reveals what the best man should and shouldn’t do in the best man’s speech:
The best man should:
- Think of your audience as more Radio 4 than Channel 4. Not sure if a gag crosses the line? Imagine reading it out to an older family member – would you get a smile or stony silence?
- Keep it simple. Some best man speeches struggle to work because they’re trying too hard. The classic structure is ice-breaker, intro, main anecdotes then heartfelt lines and a toast to finish.
- Think about the length of the speech. If it’s too brief – under five minutes – the newlyweds might feel a bit short-changed. If it’s over 10 minutes, you’re quickly entering a danger zone.
The best man shouldn’t:
- Let one period of the groom’s life dominate the speech. Get some stories from his family about his younger days and keep your anecdotes varied. Don’t just deliver eight minutes of drinking stories – you might even bore the groom.
- Mention the ex. Stories about previous girlfriends are a big no-no. It’s the quickest way to make everyone feel awkward.
- Be too harsh. Your jokes should be a punch on the arm, not a karate kick in the ribs.
The best man should also thank the groom for toasting the bridesmaids, and comment on the newlyweds, especially the groom. He should also read out any messages from absent friends and family, and end with a final toast to the happy couple.
Read more: The best toasts for your wedding speech
What Should the Bride Say in a Wedding Speech?
If you’re thinking about doing a bride’s speech, there are a few things to consider. It’s best to divvy up the groom’s speech duties to make sure you’re not thanking the same people and being repetitive.
The bride’s speech should include:
- Thanks to the guests for coming
- Thanks to her parents
- A thank you and a toast to the bridesmaids
- Compliments and anecdotes about the groom
- A toast to the groom
What Does the Maid of Honour Traditionally Say?
Why not ask your maid of honour or chief bridesmaid to give a speech? After all, she probably knows the bride better than anyone, bar the groom!
If the maid of honour is giving a speech, she should:
- Thank the bride
- Compliment the ushers and the best man – a toast could be a nice touch too
- Share stories and anecdotes about the bride
- Lead a toast to the happy couple
Read more: What are the maid of honour’s duties?
If you’re looking for more ideas for your speech, why not read our round up of romantic Disney quotes for wedding readings?