Who Gives Speeches at the Wedding Reception?

Hint: the best man traditionally kicks off the toasting time

Photo by Caroline Petters of Katie Osgood Photography

Before you get to the dancing, there’s a big wedding tradition you won’t want to miss: the toasts. If they’re done well, they can be one of the most memorable and cherished parts of the reception, so make sure to carve out time for them when you’re arranging the evening’s timeline. Not sure how much time to allow or who to tap to give a speech? We’re here to break down the toast basics.

Successful wedding toasts are all about proper planning. While impromptu speeches can be sweet, you won’t want to keep your guests away from the dance floor for too long, so leave the open mic at the rehearsal dinner and begin by designating exactly who you want to speak at your reception. The key speakers are your parents, the maid of honor, the best man, and the two of you. Here’s how to break down who gives speeches at weddings.

The Welcome Toast

Whoever is hosting the event should speak first, and should take the microphone as soon as guests have found their seats. This first toast is most often made by the parents (or father) of the bride, and should combine both a toast to the happy couple and a welcome message to the guests. If you would like the parents of the groom to speak, they should do so following the parents of the bride. For same-sex weddings, it's up to the couple to decide whose parent's should kick off the evening.

The Blessing

If you are inviting someone to bless the meal, do so immediately after the welcome toasts, but before dinner is served.

The Best Man and Maid of Honor Toasts

The best man and maid of honor usually speak toward the end of dinner—while guests are still seated but after entrées have been served. This way there are no interruptions from waitstaff clearing or serving, but guests are still paying attention. If you aren't having a seated dinner, wait until the servers have settled from making the rounds of passed hors d'oeuvres, or until you see that everyone has gotten something to munch on from the buffet table or food truck.

The Newlyweds Toast

Of course, the two of you should take the mic to thank your parents and your guests for celebrating with you. You can speak right after your maid of honor and best man, or wait to make a speech once you’ve gotten up to cut the cake.

Key Tips for Giving a Great Toast

While you can’t ensure that every toast will be memorable, there are a few steps you can take to help it all run smoothly. First, give your speakers some advance notice. Second, provide a time limit. The sweet spot for a toast is three to five minutes—enough time to share a story and a sweet sentiment, but not so long that guests lose interest. Finally, let each person know when they’ll be speaking. This way they can make sure to be ready when their time comes, and maybe hold off on that extra glass of wine until after they’ve made their remarks.

A few months before the wedding, invite them to say something. This will give them plenty of time to jot down their ideas and perfect what they’re going to say.

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