When it comes to wedding speeches, it’s important to know who speaks when on the big day. We asked speech writing coach Lawrence Bernstein to give us the breakdown of the running order
When it comes to delivering your wedding speech, there’s so much more to it than planning what you want to say. Who, traditionally, is supposed to speak first? Who introduces the best man? And who toasts the bridesmaids?
However, it’s actually becoming more common for the bride and groom to create their own running order to suit their particular situation. A bride’s father might be absent, for example, or the bride herself may want to speak.
So, before you read the traditional running order below, remember that you can rejig it if you want to – this is just a loose guide.
It’s increasingly common for the groom to speak first, particularly if he and the bride are hosting the wedding.
If there’s no father of the bride, someone else might speak in his place – a friend of the family, a bridesmaid or the bride herself.
Of course, as the roles change, so does the content of the speeches. But it doesn’t have to be confusing – so long as you are familiar with your particular running order, you’ll be fine.
Traditional running order
Father of the bride
Traditionally, the father of the bride speaks first, often before dinner. He welcomes the guests, including the groom’s family, thanks everyone for coming, talks about his daughter and her new husband and toasts the happy couple.
The groom follows, often after dinner. He responds to the father of the bride’s toast, thanks the hosts and everyone else who has helped, say something about his new wife and toasts the bridesmaids.
The best man
The best man then responds to the groom’s toast. Traditionally he should talk about the groom, how he knows him, mention the bride and throw in a few embarrassing stories that will get a laugh.
So when the groom is planning and writing his speech, he may want to ask:
- Who is speaking immediately before you? It might be the master of ceremonies, your father-in-law, or your bride.
- How will they finish their speech? This will help you plan your own introduction, by referencing what they’ve just said.
- Will they introduce you? Again, you’ll need to reference this at the beginning of your speech.
- What sort of tone will they use? You don’t want to drastically – jarringly – change the tone.
- How long will it be after their speech before you stand up?
- What will they be talking about?
Once the groom has found out the answers to these questions, he can shape his speech around them. For example, if the bride’s father has died (hopefully not during the speeches!), he can use that as a link to a toast to absent friends.
If the bride is speaking after the groom, he could joke about her always having the last word. If the best man is speaking before the groom, it might be better for him toast the bridesmaids instead.
Occasionally, the content of wedding speeches can overlap. To avoid a disaster like this on your big day, the groom should check first with the father of the bride and best man and make sure they’re not intending to tell any of the same anecdotes.
There are lots of possibilities – have fun with them! Just make sure you know your place in the running order and everything will run smoothly.