What’s the Best Time for Wedding Speeches at the Reception?

bride crying while father of the bride gives speech

Photo by Tim Willoughby

Love them or hate them, speeches are a key part of a wedding reception. Those toasts (not roasts—save those for the bachelor party or rehearsal dinner) give guests an insight into who the couple is, as well as their relationship. Speeches are a chance for the hosts and the happy couple to speak to their guests and to thank everyone for attending. But what’s the best way to arrange these speeches? Is there usually a specific time that the toasts happen during the reception?

Great wedding toasts are all about timing. Both how long the toasts are and when they take place can have an effect on the response. You don’t want to disrupt the flow of the evening, but you also don’t want to wait so long that the toast givers have either had too much champagne or have spent the whole night waiting to get the party started.

The timing of wedding toasts varies, and it's all about finding the ideal balance that works for you and the type of wedding you're planning. Read on for a few options.

Schedule Speeches First Thing

Getting these formalities out of the way is great for two reasons. First, your parents, maid of honor, and best man can enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free, and the speech can serve to set the tone for the rest of the night. If you want to kick the night off with toasts, schedule them to happen as soon as everyone has sat down. Make your grand entrance, take your seats, and then ask the first person (usually the hosts) to take the mic. You can have the toasts all happen back to back or take a little break between toasts so your caterer can serve the first course, picking up the mic again after the salad plates are down.

Give Speeches Once Entrées Are Served

Another great option (that still has those toasts happening early in the evening) is to hold off until guests are served their main course. This part of the meal is the longest, so it allows for a little more time for talking without interruptions from the waitstaff.

Make sure your caterer serves your VIP tables first, so anyone giving a toast can enjoy their meal while it’s hot. Then, as other tables are being served, or while guests are enjoying their meal, those giving speeches can get up and make their toast with a captive audience.

Kick Off the Dancing With Toasts

The third option is to have toasts at the tail end of the meal, giving your speechmakers plenty of time to enjoy the reception once they’re done. You can either have them get up to speak at the end of the meal or invite them to take the stage when it’s time to dance. Schedule the toasts, and then head straight into the cake cutting. Finish off with your first dance and parent dances, and then open up the dance floor to celebrate!

Utilize the Cocktail Hour

If you’re planning something a bit more casual than a seated dinner, the best time to capture the audience’s attention may be when guests have that signature cocktail in their hands. Allow guests to arrive and get a drink at the bar and a plate of hors d'oeuvres, and then grab their attention. This option will allow for the speeches to be delivered early on, and once the toast happens, everyone will be able to mingle and relax for the rest of the reception.

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