I'd like to say a few words...
Originally published in Wedding Album magazine
Who gives a speech?
Historically, the father of the bride, the best man and the groom would all give speeches – in that order. Of course, this was settled back in the day before the world had acknowledged that a few of the women present at the wedding may also have words of wisdom to drop on a crowd. Today, all your wedding VIPs (the best man, the maid of honour, both sets of parents and the bride and groom) should have the opportunity – though definitely not an obligation – to speak.
Rather than standing on ceremony, do what feels right to you when choosing who gets to step up to the mic. However, you should draw the line at the aforementioned VIPs, or you may risk an Academy Awards-length evening of speech-ing. Every high-school bestie or second cousin who wants their shot at a few meaningful words can either tell the happy couple privately, or can raise a glass during the bridal shower, bachelor party or rehearsal dinner.
Who speaks when?
It’s a good idea to space the toasts out at intervals, rather than trying to command your guests’ attention for one long period of time. It’s really up to you to decide who speaks when, but the following is a rough guide...
Traditionally, the bride’s parents are the hosts of this special day, so they’ll speak first, usually when everyone is seated for dinner. Keep it brief – there’s a feast waiting in the wings, after all. They’ll thank everyone for being there, welcome the groom and his relatives into the family, and say something touching about the happy couple.
Once everyone is fed and hydrated, there will be a natural lull in proceedings, at which point the best man and maid of honour can add their more light-hearted words to the mix.
The final set of speeches happens before or just after the cutting of the cake. It’s the groom’s parents’ turn, followed by the groom, who will wrap things up and say the final thank yous on behalf of him and his bride, as well as any tear-jerker comments he has up his sleeve about his bride.
According to traditional etiquette, the bride is the guest of honour at a wedding, which means that she’s often a silent figure. But if you want to stand up and tell your guests just how much you appreciate them and how much you love the person next to you, we say go right ahead. Many brides these days do just that.
Tips for a top toast
- Practise beforehand. Out loud. At least fives times.
- Keep it brief and focused. Stick to one theme or message, rather than bouncing around different topics.
- Funny is good; sincere is best. And not many people can pull off the former.
- Address everyone in the room rather than overdoing the inside jokes.
- Anecdotes of drunken or lewd behaviour aren’t as funny as you think they are, especially with children and grandparents present.
- Make sure you know the difference between gentle teasing and being mean-spirited.
Do I need an MC at my wedding?
Some people feel an MC is too stuffy or formal, but having one really helps to keep things running smoothly on the day. They’ll inform your guests where to be and when (a little direction goes a long way when dealing with a Champagne-fuelled crowd) and get everyone’s attention so no one misses those important moments.
To keep it personal and classy, forget about hiring a cheesy C-list celeb and instead ask someone you would have invited anyway. Your MC can easily be any groomsman, bridesmaid or friend with a talent for public speaking. They needn’t even give a speech – as long as they can command a room and you trust them not to start slurring into the microphone before the cake is cut, you should be good.
- Announces the arrival of the married couple at the reception
- Introduces the toasts (make sure they know how to pronounce the names of everyone giving a toast.)
- Announces important moments, such as the first dance and cutting of the cake.