The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Speeches and Toasts

August 2, 2022 | riley

Image by Hugo Coelho. See more of this real wedding here. Read on about nailing wedding speeches and toasts

Wedding speeches and toasts may be the most daunting things to write and deliver, but they’re also one of the best parts of any wedding. They give guests a unique perspective on the couple, make you laugh, make you cry, and bring the room together. So, to take some of the pressure off your shoulders, here are some tried-and-true tips for writing a killer wedding speech and toast!

Image by Emily Delamater Photography. See more of this real wedding here

The Basics Of Wedding Speeches and Toasts

Who gives toasts and speeches?

Traditionally, the best man, the maid of honor (MOH), and both sets of parents give speeches for the couple. You’ll also find that the couple gives a welcome and gratitude speech. However, here at Junebug, we believe it’s entirely up to you and what you want for your special day. 

We’ve seen brides give the newlywed speech, and we’ve seen best friends give speeches instead of the MOH or best man. If you’re going the non-traditional route, we don’t recommend an open-mic situation where anyone can speak, and we don’t recommend having more than five speeches or guests will start to get restless.

When do speeches and toasts take place?

Most speeches and wedding toasts are given during the wedding reception, either before or after dinner. If you’d rather they be more intimate or you aren’t having a traditional reception, you can also have them take place at the rehearsal dinner.

What is the correct order for speeches?

Did you know that wedding speeches have a logistical order that is typically followed? While it may seem like such a minute detail, it actually makes more sense than you’d imagine. It usually starts with the couple. This gives you the opportunity to welcome and thank your guests for coming. From there, it traditionally goes in this order:

  1. The hosts (typically the parents)
  2. Maid of honor
  3. Best man

Every couple has their preferences on who they want to speak and the order in which they want them to speak. As we mentioned earlier, it’s your wedding. If you have a maid of honor who hates public speaking, or you want your best friend to give the speech rather than your best man, go for it. The same goes for the order we just listed.

How long should wedding speeches and toasts go?

No matter how long you’ve known each other, try to keep speeches under five minutes. In fact, three minutes is the sweet spot. Even if you have countless things to say, three minutes can feel a lot longer than you’d expect. Keeping it short and sweet will keep everything, including the newlyweds, happy.

Image by Ana Hinojosa. See more of this real wedding here

Steps For Writing Killer Wedding Speeches and Toasts

The hardest part of writing a speech is knowing where to start. If you’re drawing a blank or having difficulty narrowing down the stories you want to tell, start by making a list of your favorite qualities about the newlyweds. Chances are there are many amazing qualities about them, so making a list of your top three favorites will help you craft a personalized speech tailored to them.

To expand beyond that, you can ask yourself these questions as well:

Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Is there anyone speaking before or after you? If so, how will it affect the content of your speech?
  • What is the general tone you want to convey in your speech? Emotional? Joy? Funny?
  • What are some of your favorite memories with the newlyweds? These memories can be based on the individual getting married or them as a couple
  • What do you see when you envision their future with one another?
  • Is there any advice that you want to share?

When it’s time to start writing, use the following general outline to help create a great speech from beginning to end.

1. Introduce Yourself

Tell everyone your name and a brief explanation of how and when you met the couple or how you’re related. Everyone may not already know who you are, so a little context will go a long way.

2. Tell A Relevant Story

Go back to the list you created and choose a story that reflects the qualities you love most about the couple. This should be relatable, endearing, and appropriate. Make sure you have a point to the story so that you can seamlessly tie it into your speech at the end.

3. Reminisce about the day you met their partner

Everyone in that room will likely have seen different pieces of the couple’s love story, so tell their story from your perspective. Talk about the day you met their significant other for the first time and the moment you realized this was the person they were going to marry.

4. Talk about what you love about their partner

Although your main responsibility is to talk about one of the newlyweds, every speech should ultimately be about both of them. Tell their partner why they are the best choice for your friend and what qualities you love most about them.

5. Talk about your hopes for their future as a couple

If you’re married, this is where you can insert your best piece(s) of advice for a healthy marriage. If you’re not married, wish them a long, happy, and healthy life together. Make your wishes and your advice personal to their relationship and end on a positive, optimistic, and heartfelt vision of their future.

6. End with a toast

Ending a speech can be just as challenging as starting it, which is why we recommend ending with a wedding toast. Ask everyone to raise their glass and toast to the wonderful couple—and, in your own mind, to the killer speech you just gave!

Junebug Tip:

The Art of Etiquette’s wedding guest books include ten speech sheets that will give a beautiful space for your loved ones to write the perfect speech that is short, sweet, and sentimental. We love that they’ve included these thoughtful speech sheets that will double as a wedding keepsake in your guest book.

Image by Annabelle Agnew Photography. See more of this real wedding here

Tips For Giving Wedding Speeches and Toasts

Don’t drink too much beforehand

We love open bars at weddings as much as the next person, but you don’t want to be slurring your words or drunkenly rambling in front of everyone. Just a couple of sips of liquid courage will get you through those few minutes in front of the crowd, we promise!

Don’t make it about you

It’s okay to be relatable by telling a story, but remember that this speech is about them. After you’ve introduced yourself, move on to talking about the newlyweds and their relationship.

Don’t humiliate the couple

There’s nothing wrong with jokes. In fact, some of the best toasts and speeches inject humor throughout. However, don’t use crude language, tell inappropriate stories, or mention past relationships. The moral of the story is if there’s even the slightest chance someone could feel uncomfortable about something you want to say, leave it out.

Keep it short and sweet

We mentioned this earlier, but it’s an important one! Chances are there will be at least two other people giving speeches before or after you, so keep your speech to five minutes max. If you go any longer than that, the couple and their guests may start getting a little antsy. If you aren’t sure how long your speech will take, our next tip will help.

Practice beforehand

You practice for speeches for school and work, why should a wedding be any different? Rehearse your speech with a friend or in front of the mirror. It will help get some of the nerves out and allow you to make sure it all flows before the big moment. 

Keep in mind that you’ll naturally speak more quickly when you’re handed the microphone, so as you’re practicing make sure you remind yourself to slow down. 

Write your speech down

With all the excitement and nerves of the day, there is a good chance you’ll blank out or forget parts of your speech. Even if you plan to memorize it, write it down and bring it with you just in case. Nobody will fault you for holding notes–just be sure to look up occasionally!

Pass these tips along to everyone giving a speech and toast at your wedding, and get ready for some pretty epic and heartfelt moments! Then start thinking about how to keep the party going all night with these wedding reception songs guaranteed to get your guests dancing.

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One Comment

  1. Being the standout at the wedding speeches and toast is quite tricky. You have to be funny for everyone, or even a heartfelt story to tell for the guest and couple. This guide really tick all the boxes for build an ultimate wedding speech.

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