Who Needs to Give a Wedding Speech on the Big Day?

A guide to the schedule of reception toasts.

Find out who should traditionally be speaking and when those speeches should occur.

Photo: Vue Photography

When searching for advice about wedding toasts, the bulk of the information is about how to write a speech that isn’t too long or inappropriate. This is, of course, valuable information, but it’s not all there is to organizing the toasts at the reception. Though it may seem obvious to some, for those who have not attended many weddings or are from a different culture, it may not be clear who is supposed to actually give a speech. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that a person might decide to toast the couple on a whim! Read below to find out who should traditionally be speaking and when those speeches should occur. 

who should give toasts at weddings? schedule for wedding speeches

Photo by Branco Prata; Planning & Design by Evoke Design & Creative

To open the reception, whoever is hosting the wedding will likely start with a welcome toast. In the past, this was the spot for the father of the bride; however, nowadays both sets of parents may split the cost, the couple may have paid for their own celebration, or there might be two brides – or none! In lieu of a traditional hosted reception, a parent from each side may choose to speak, or whoever feels most comfortable may take the reins. 

As dinner is winding down, the head attendees – maid/matron/man of honor or best man/woman will give their speeches. Again, tradition usually dictates that the best man goes first, but it would not be against etiquette or particularly out of the norm if you chose to structure your toasts in a different order. 

Finally, there is the toast from the newlyweds. Following the toasts by your attendants, you and your new spouse should take the opportunity to thank everyone for coming, as well as highlight anyone who was particularly helpful leading up to the big day. In the past, just the groom would be the one to make this gesture, but you can either take part together or whichever person is the best (or feels the most comfortable) with public speaking can lead the toast. This moment also allows for an easy transition into the dancing part of the reception, if you so choose. 

For more tips, read how to plan a timeline for your reception and watch a cute wedding speech given by a little girl.