Speeches are a lovely part of the wedding celebration. It is a great time for guests to get to know the people speaking and generally learn something about the bride and groom that they didn’t already know. Traditionally, speeches are done after the main meal and before the desert (if there is a sit down meal) but nowadays a lot of couples are deciding to break with tradition and do their speeches earlier in the night. As it can be quite a daunting thing for people who are not used to public speaking to be asked to be the centre of attention, it can sometimes make it easier on them if the speeches are out of the way early in the celebration. It also helps if some people are nervous drinkers as there is nothing worse than a rambling drunk speech, even if it is lovely and heartfelt, it just doesn’t seem as sincere if someone is quite obviously drunk.
By all means, break the tradition and change things up! It is entirely your day and I am always one for doing things the way that you want them and not how others dictate they be. But for the people who want to know, traditionally speech order is as follows:
Father of the Bride.
The Father of the Bride usually goes first, as in the past the brides family would traditionally pay for the wedding and generally invited a great portion of the guests to the wedding. Generally, the Father of the Bride would thank everyone for coming, tell the Bride how lovely she looks, and tell some stories from her childhood. He also welcomes the Groom into their family, give the couple some marital advice and most importantly makes a toast to the Bride and Groom.
The Groom usually responds to the Father of the Bride’s speech and thanks him for welcoming him into the family, thanks his parents for the formative years. He thanks people for helping with the wedding and all events leading up to the wedding, such as his bucks night or the hens night, he might say something lovely to his new Wife (everyone usually cheers the first time the Groom mentions his wife), thanks and makes a toast to the bridesmaids and other attendants of the bride, thank his attendants for the day, and lastly thank everyone for coming along.
The Best Man.
The Best Man generally compliments the Bride and Groom and give them well wishes for their life together. He will traditionally thank the Groom for asking him to be the best man, tell some humorous stories about the Groom, thank the hosts on behalf of all the guests, and sends well wishes from absent guests.
Traditionally, The Best Man’s speech is supposed to be funny, with care not to offend anyone, and has to say something heartfelt to the couple, which can be such a tall order and a lot to expect of someone if they are not particularly funny, or overly sentimental. This can often be hard for some people and if your best man isn’t going to be comfortable doing this or it is really not his strong point, it may be best to consider someone else close to the couple. One of the other Groomsmen might turn out to be a more appropriate choice, or perhaps a brother, or even another close friend or relative that is happy to be in the spotlight and will do the speech justice. On the other hand, don’t ask your Best Man to try to be funny if he is just a sweet heartfelt guy.
All this being said, there is no hard and fast rule about who should speak or when they should speak. It is now more common for a Bride to give a speech, and at some point for the Maid of Honour or all of the bridesmaids to do a combined speech. Sometimes Mum’s of the Bride or Groom want to say something too, and this can be nice if someone has passed away or the parents are separated and they want to have something to say about the newly married couple.
It is really important to let people know what order they will be speaking in and make sure they know who they are after as it allows for the reception to be smooth and the guests’ attention to be held. Have a list or running sheet for your MC, ask your speakers to try to limit the speech to 4-7 minutes, as there is nothing worse than a speech that goes for 15 minutes or longer.
Generally, for anyone giving a speech the best advice that you can give them is to speak slowly, clearly and speak from the heart.