Why Wedding Speeches are in a Certain Order

Ah the speeches; the best, or worst, part of a wedding. But why do we have them and why are they done in a certain order? And can we change that?

Short answer – you can do what you like! There is a traditional order to these things but if you a) want to do your own thing or b) don’t want speeches at all, that’s just fine. Weddings are becoming more and more personal and couples don’t necessarily have all of the components (parents, best man) available to suit the traditional order.

To help you make your mind up here’s a rundown of the traditional order, who thanks whom and why they do it.

First up, Father of the Bride

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Always first to speak, this is a sign of respect for the person who was usually footing the bill for the whole shindig. As remunerator,  traditionally he would be responsible for:

♥ Welcoming the wedding party
♥ Welcoming the Groom into the family and acknowledging the new in-laws
♥ Complimenting his daughter and explaining her worth! (More modernly, it would be  telling a few heartfelt -read: weepers – tales)
♥ Toasting the happy couple

A FoTB speech is usually heartwarming and leads to tears. That’s not to say he can’t have a little joke in there, but leave the whoppers to the best man.  However it’s always nice to spread a little wisdom so just before the toast he might share a little of his – the secret to a happy marriage, learning how to say ‘yes dear’ or simply how to live your best life together.

The Groom comes next

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Following his new in-law, the Groom will thank him being welcomed to the family and for the wise words, and then:

♥ Compliment and thank the Bridesmaids for supporting the Bride
♥ Gush about his beautiful new WIFE (and use that word a lot!)
♥ Thank his Groomsmen for supporting him (and for not shaving his eyebrows on the stag do)
♥ Give out any gifts and give personal thanks to the wedding party and other guests
♥ Toast the Bride’s parents (if they paid – if not, this part is optional)

The Groom’s speech is usually pretty short. I’ve known a few to go on and on (and a few Bride’s to roll their eyes) but remember, although today is definitely about you – you’re the groom – everyone is really eagerly awaiting the Best Man’s speech. So keep it short and cute.

The Best Man is always last
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Let me add here, if you decide you want to have a Bride’s speech, Bridesmaids, or anyone else they will come BEFORE the Best Man, because he is ALWAYS last.

Often hailed as the ‘fun’ speech of the event, the Best Man has a hard job. He needs to be funny, tell great stories that both sets of parents won’t cringe at, not mention any previous partners and keep the wedding guests engaged. All without going on too long but also making it longer than 2 minutes! (FYI, 5-7 minutes is optimum – with pauses for laughter you’re already at around 10 minutes).  Video aids, musical accompaniments and flip charts have all made an appearance at BM speeches. Traditionally speaking though, he will:

♥ Echo the previous complimenting of the Bride and Bridesmaids
♥ Compliment the new wedded couple
♥ Tell some stories (sparing the blushes of the Bride and the audience, but with humour)
♥ Read out Telegrams (or in this modern age texts and email messages) from absent friends and family
♥ A final toast to the happy couple

Why is he always last? It’s thought that as the FoTB and the Groom were usually rather nervous, the Best Man would be able to pick up on anything that they had missed out. It is the duty of the BM to listen to the previous speeches and make sure everyone who should be has been thanked, and spare the embarrassment of the the men before him who may have forgotten.

Of course as we stated at the start – this is all very much down to YOU. I have been to plenty of weddings with no speeches at all and my fair share with EPIC speeches. On my day I did the speech with my Groom and the Bridesmaids did a brilliant (and tear inducing) speech too. It’s your day. If you’re following tradition then fabulous, but you don’t have to.

♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥

When do speeches happen?
Again this is down to you but there are some things you should consider when deciding.

Before the Wedding Breakfast
Pros – get it out of the way and relax and enjoy your meal
Cons – probably not had enough ‘dutch courage’ and it may cause a delay to food service. Your guests will be hungry and possibly less receptive to a long speech

After the Wedding Breakfast
Pros – speakers have full tummies and a bit of wine in them, so feel brave. Your guests are full and ready to be entertained
Cons – See first Pro!

Between Courses
While this might seem like a good idea and will break up the speeches, logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare. For a sit down, table service meal it causes the chef a few headaches and you might not get the high quality food you’ve paid for. If the speeches run over the food can be ruined. If you choose a buffet it could work, but you still run the risk of never having your guests all seated at the same time as they wander up for another helping.

We hope this helps you to decide when and how you want to do your speeches. If at all!  While they are a traditional part of the wedding day, plenty of people get dry mouth and curly toes just thinking about it. It’s supposed to be fun, if you don’t want to do it – don’t! ♥

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