Wedding Speech Order: Who Gives Speeches and When?

wedding speech order

Before you get on the dance floor, there’s one wedding tradition you don’t want to miss: the speeches. If done right, they’re one of the most memorable and pleasant parts of the wedding, so be sure to make room for them in your timeline.

Not sure how much time to allocate, who needs to make a speech, or the correct wedding speech order? We’ve got you covered, so let’s jump right in!

Who Traditionally Gives Speeches at Weddings?

Traditionally there are three speakers at the reception: the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man.

Who Gives Speeches at Weddings? (For Modern Couples)

Modern weddings typically have four to five speakers at the reception: the couple’s parents, the maid of honor, the best man, and the bride & groom.

With that being said, there are no restrictions or limitations on who can give a speech. 

So if a bridesmaid, groomsmen or someone outside of the wedding party wants to give a speech – then that’s perfectly fine too.

How Long Should Wedding Speeches Last?

Collectively, reception speeches should last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Individually, they should last no longer than three minutes.

Pro Tip: This is one area you really want to be strict about, otherwise you run the risk of cutting into your time on the dance floor – and who wants to miss that?

Who Gives Speeches at the Rehearsal Dinner?

Traditionally the hosts give the first speech, followed by other members of the wedding party that won’t be speaking at the reception (usually everyone other than the best man and maid of honor).

Rehearsal dinner speeches are generally more informal and intimate, so don’t worry too much about length (unless someone is getting really carried away)!

Can Both Parents Give a Wedding Speech?

Absolutely. Both parents of the bride and groom can give a speech during the rehearsal dinner and/or reception.

Do You Need to Have Speeches at a Wedding?

No, speeches at a wedding aren’t required. You can either skip them entirely, do a slight twist on the traditional speech, or replace them with speech-free alternatives.

who gives speeches at a wedding

Traditional Wedding Speech Order

While this is historically the “correct” or traditional order, be sure to note that it’s becoming much less common as it doesn’t account for same-sex couples, parents, or brides/female wedding party members that want to give a speech.

We’ve included a more modern wedding speech order further below.

Rehearsal Dinner

  • Groom’s Parents: The parents of the groom traditionally host the rehearsal dinner – and as good hosts – thank the guests for attending.
  • Wedding Party: This is the chance for anyone that’s not the best man or maid of honor to publicly say nice things and show appreciation to the soon-to-be newlyweds.
  • Bride and Groom: The couple – appreciative of everyone’s support – thanks their relatives, wedding party, and other guests.
  • Other family members or important guests: Grandparents, cousins, and other close relatives share informal congratulations.

Reception

  • Bride’s Parents: Typically the father of the bride will congratulate and toast the newlyweds.
  • The Groom: The groom responds to the father of the bride, and thanks everyone for attending before concluding his speech with a toast.
  • The Best Man: The best man honors the bride and groom (while keeping things fun with some light ribbing).
modern wedding speech order

Modern Wedding Speech Order

A more common speech order for the modern couple.

Rehearsal Dinner

  • The Couple’s Parents: Parents from both sides of the family give speeches (expect anywhere from one to four speeches).
  • Wedding Party: Anyone from the wedding party has the opportunity to speak (including the best man and maid of honor).
  • Bride and Groom: The couple acknowledges the prior toasts and thanks everyone for their support.
  • Other family members or important guests: Relatives and friends that aren’t part of the aforementioned groups share informal congratulations.

Reception

  • The Couple’s Parents: Typically the fathers from both sides will congratulate the newlyweds, but the mothers may join in too (or in lieu of the fathers).
  • The Maid of Honor: The maid of honor shares how the bride’s life has changed for the better – since meeting the groom – and gives her best wishes for the marriage.
  • The Best Man: The best man honors the bride and groom (while keeping things fun with some light ribbing).
  • Bride and Groom: The couple acknowledges the prior toasts and thanks everyone for coming.

Wedding Speech Order Tips

  • It’s not required, but we recommend you at least consider giving a thank you speech (or toast) at some point. Whether it’s between the cocktail hour and dinner, at the rehearsal, or some other time – it’s important that guests know you appreciate them being there.
  • Tradition dictates that only certain people should be allowed to (or even need to) give a speech, but that’s obviously outdated. Keep an open mind by allowing anyone that wants to give a speech the opportunity to do so. Likewise, if someone really doesn’t want to give a speech, don’t force them to!
  • If your potential speech-givers are introverts (or aren’t the greatest of public speakers), then consider limiting the number of speakers to a select few. We suggest you turn to guests that are both enthusiastic about speaking and are likely to follow general speech etiquette.
  • Depending on how many speakers you have, it may (or may not) make sense to slot them in at different parts of the day to avoid speech fatigue. If you don’t have many speakers, consider having the speeches all at once.