When Should Speeches Take Place During the Wedding Reception?

Great wedding toasts are all about timing.

father of the bride giving a wedding speech

Photo by Hugo Coelho Photography

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. What's more, speeches are a chance for the hosts and the happy couple to speak to their guests and 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? When does the best man give his speech? If you're asking these questions, you're not alone.

Great wedding toasts are all about timing, since the length of a speech and when they take place can have an effect on the overall celebration. For instance, you don’t want to disrupt the flow of the reception, but you also don’t want to place the speeches at the end of the evening, giving your best man or maid of honor a chance to drink a little too much champagne (yikes!).

With all this in mind, and since the timing of toasts is so important, we thought it might be valuable to put together a brief guide to help you find the best moments to schedule your wedding speeches. Read on to learn more.

When Does the Maid of Honor Give Her Speech?

Before diving into any timeline suggestions, it's important to first understand when the two main speeches are commonly supposed to happen: the maid of honor and the best man speech. As tradition dictates, the maid of honor usually gives her speech right after the parents of the bride (who typically speak after the parents of the groom). Of course, couples may choose to switch up this order depending on their personal preferences, but the maid of honor is usually second to last in the lineup of toasts. And while the maid of honor's speech doesn't get as much attention as the best man's speech, it's still a sweet moment at the reception and a period of time the bride will remember forever.

When Does the Best Man Give His Speech?

Once the maid of honor has spoken, the best man is traditionally next, and last, in the lineup of reception speeches. His toast is usually the one that's most anticipated as well (thanks to the depiction of fictional best-man speeches in pop culture), and is the speech that is meant to kick off the party. A best man's toast should be celebratory and encouraging, with a few appropriate jokes that emphasize the love the couple has for each other.

The Best Moments for Wedding Speeches

As noted above, a traditional lineup of speeches is generally as follows: the parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, the maid of honor, and the best man. But now that you understand the typical lineup, you may be stuck on when to actually schedule your loved ones to speak during your reception's run of show. If that's the case, keep reading below for a few speech timeline options to consider, based on your preferred wedding style.

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 these speeches can also serve as a way to set the tone for the rest of the night. So if you want to kick the reception off with toasts, schedule them to happen as soon as everyone sits down. Make your grand entrance, take your seats, and then ask the first person to take the mic. You can have the toasts all happen back to back or even take a little in-between so your caterer can serve the first course, then pick 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 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 dinner 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 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, 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 night.

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