Everything you need to know about speeches at your wedding
The entire world has a rich history of toasting to health and prosperity, it's no wonder that it has consistently been included in wedding celebrations. It can be the best part or the worst part of a wedding day... I'm here to give you some tips to help it be one of the best parts!
Who do we ask to give a toast/speech at the wedding?
Traditionally, the Maid of Honor, Best Man, wedding couple, and parents give toasts. But heck with tradition and who cares! Especially since many wedding couples don't have traditional roles like this anymore, pick people that you want to speak! And pick people who also WANT to speak (it's never good to force it... that just gets awkward). If you are worried what someone might say, then maybe they wouldn't be the best person to choose.
What part of the day should we do this?
Traditionally the toasts/speeches come at the end of dinner. I recommend starting the toasts when 80% of the guests are finished eating, instead of waiting until everyone is in the clean plate club. If you wait too long, the event can drag on or feel like people are missing what comes next.
If you would like to say something or your parents would like to say something, another option is to add these BEFORE dinner, after the "Grand Entrance" (if you're doing one). If you put a toast/speech here, it should be much more focused as a welcome, thank you for coming style.
How long should they go?
I recommend no more than 5 minutes for each toast. Anything longer feels very long to your guests.
How do I figure out what order?
Start with the most confident speaker, someone who can come out of the gate strong. Put the least confident speakers in the middle, and end with someone sentimental. And go back and forth between someone who knows you better and someone who knows your partner better.
How many people should we ask? What do we do if we have a lot?
2-3 toasts is really the sweet spot for your guests. Any more than that it tends to get repetitive and long. If you have more than 3 people that you want to speak, I recommend considering a Welcome Toast (see above) or asking some to speak at the rehearsal dinner the night before instead.
Tips and tricks to make it painless
- Give your toasters a time limit they should hit ahead of time. And when you give it to them... be conservative assuming that they'll go over! For example, if you have 15 minutes allotted in your timeline for toasts and three people speaking, tell each one to talk for 3 minutes. In reality, they can talk for 5 minutes and it won't matter to the timeline, but typically people will go over in time!
- You are the only one who can cut off a speech. It is very hard for a planner, DJ, band, etc to get someone to stop talking without insulting them (which is the LAST thing we want to do on your wedding day!). So if you know someone will be long winded, please make sure you talk to them ahead of time and set clear expectations. If you're picking them and know they'll be long winded, just be mentally prepared that they may be.
- Have a speech order ahead of time, but be flexible! Often when I go and tell people that they're about to speak, they start to panic on the spot. And you never know if someone wants to go first/second/last, etc. So if you can be flexible and be fine with your coordinator adjusting on the fly based on your speech-givers desires, that will make everyone more relaxed.