I’m regularly asked who speaks at a wedding and who needs to say what in their wedding speech.

I suggest planning your wedding speech around the ‘must haves’ and the ‘might haves’. The list below focuses solely on the ‘must haves’. Many wedding speeches fall foul of ‘listing’, where you subject the audience to a never-ending barrage of sincere thank yous. The best speeches weave these ‘must haves’ around their more creative elements and so you hardly realise that they are running through a list at all.

Groom standing to give wedding speech

Here’s a quick reminder of the traditional wedding speech order and the things you will need to include if it’s a standard wedding with an orthodox set of speeches and toasts.

The Father of the Bride’s Speech

(The father of the bride speech focuses mainly on the bride and her new husband)

  • Welcome the guests
  • Welcome your new family
  • Mention your wife
  • Mention guests who cannot be there
  • Toast the bride and groom

You may also want to mention your other children, the vicar or equivalent, any friends who have helped with the organisation (including the flowers) and people who have travelled a long way.

The Groom’s Speech

(The groom speech focuses mainly on the bride)

  • Thank the father of the bride
  • Thank the guests
  • Mention the new in-laws
  • Thank/mention your own family
  • Mention any particularly elderly or ‘special’ guests
  • Thank the best man and ushers
  • Toast the bridesmaids

Your thank yous may overlap with the father of the bride’s so it’s worth trying to share them between you. You may also want to mention guests who can’t be there, and thank anyone from the wedding planner to the flower arranger (although I suggest that you restrict your thank yous to volunteers).

The Best Man’s Speech

(The best man speech focuses mainly on the groom)

  • Read any telegrams
  • Respond to toast on behalf of bridesmaids
  • Thank your hosts
  • Toast the bride and groom

This list is short and sweet and your speech has the most room for creativity and fun. However, it is still worth checking with the groom that he doesn’t want you to take any of the ‘must haves’ off his plate.

That’s the high level summary. Please don’t assume anything and always check with the others that you are not going to cover the same ground.

Good luck.

Guest post by Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing

Image from Claire Basiuk Photography