“To The Happy Couple! Cheers!”

Federico x. Photography

Many couples wonder when to do toasts and speeches, who should speak, and sometimes ask how they can tell somebody they really don’t want them speaking – without offending them. There’s a right way and a wrong way to be nice. Here are some general concepts of how to do all of the above, and some basic gentle advice I can give on this subject.

To start, when should speeches and toasts happen at a wedding?

There are many answers to this question. The perfect time to do a toast and speech varies, but here are some options. A good time to hear from the hosts (usually the bride’s parents) is immediately after the bridal party entrance, as the couple is seated. The Father Of The Bride traditionally welcomes everyone, thanks them for coming, toasts the couple and then may introduce the groom’s parents before dinner begins.

The second toasting opportunity is as dinner is coming to an end, as soon as the couple finishes eating. In Oregon most couples do not do served or family style service. If you are doing a buffet, food trucks or a taco bar, for example, you may still do a welcoming toast just be certain it is simple, sweet and then let the people eat. Other key honored guests should be invited to toast after the couple finishes eating and just before The First Dances happens. This is the perfect time to have the groom’s parents, your Maid Of Honor, and Best Man speeches. If you don’t do a welcoming speech, do that here allowing parents from both families to speak here, and bump the Best Man/Maid Of Honor speeches to later.

The third toasting opportunity is right before you cut the cake. You might choose couples toasts only right here, or all toasts here. A nice order is toasts followed by cake cutting. If you are doing a bouquet toss it’s a good time to do that right after the cake cutting. Planning tip – put your toss bouquet at the dessert table in a vase. It’s a pretty decoration and then your bouquet is right where you need it to go from cake to toss. This timing gives your catering staff time to serve or plate the cake and set it out on the dessert table.

Who Should Give A Toast?

There is no right answer to this question! Typically it’s nice to break up the speeches if you have a lot of people you want to speak. A lot = more than 4.

Traditional speakers:

  • Father of The Bride
  • Best Man
  • Maid Of Honor
  • Groom

Who might you want to have speak?

  • Parents of The Bride (both or any you like)
  • Parents Of The Groom (both or any you like)
  • Best People (whomever you choose) best friends, siblings
  • Bride
  • Groom

Don’t up the list or open the mic. Try hard to limit your total speakers to 6-8 absolute max. Beyond 4, break it up.

I love my brother, but he’s kind of an ass when he drinks – and he’s going to drink!

I’ve heard it all over the years, from super awkward to truly brilliant speeches. Some people speak too long, some say too much, many do their best and therefore get it just right. You know your friends and family. If you are worried, in my experience, you should be! It is ok to give people direction. Let them know a time limit, tell them examples of things you really don’t want to see or hear on your wedding day.

Have very direct conversations with your friends and family. Let them help decide who should speak and when. Some people hate public speaking, don’t make them speak. You can share a sweet private moment earlier in the day. Schedule it, and enjoy that private time.

If you have ten people who want to speak, ask one or two to have a special spot during the ceremony instead. Have them do a reading or write you a poem. If you know somebody is likely to get wild after they’ve had a few drinks ask them to do the ceremony parts, and let others speak later in the reception.

Seriously, give direction. It’s not pushy to say, “We would love to have you give us a toast during the reception. We just want something very you – sweet, funny, real and not too long. Maybe 2-5 minutes.”

If you tell somebody what you want but leave the details to them, you’ve empowered them to honor your request. It’s not bossy, it’s direct and gives them an expectation.

It’s also fine to have a special time with your whole bridal party during the cocktail hour right before you join the main party where you do mini private toasts. You can do this before the ceremony if you’ve done a first look and are all together.

I hope this helps. As always, contact me if you have questions! Or comment below.

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