Everything You Need to Know About Giving a Rehearsal Dinner Speech

First things first: Don't panic.
Valerie Nikolas - The Knot Contributor.
Valerie Nikolas
Valerie Nikolas - The Knot Contributor.
Valerie Nikolas
The Knot Contributor
  • Valerie is a freelance contributor for The Knot Worldwide.
  • In addition to journalistic writing, Valerie also works as a marketing copywriter.
  • Valerie has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Updated Jun 09, 2023

We get it: Public speaking can be nerve-wracking. If you've been asked to give a rehearsal dinner speech, have no fear. Rehearsal dinners are more intimate and low-key atmosphere, and still a perfect chance to show your favorite couple some love.

We asked David Murray, award-winning journalist, author, editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day, and founder and executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association for some pointers on how to rock a rehearsal dinner speech.

"The great thing about a rehearsal dinner speech is that it serves a very specific purpose," says Murray. "The rehearsal dinner is the first time the two families are joining together, so the task is to unite them in a common purpose. The ideal rehearsal dinner speech should help these families understand one another and the couple's relationship in a broader context. There should be a sense of two communities merging."

In this article:

Who Gives a Rehearsal Dinner Speech?

Traditionally, the parents of the groom host the rehearsal dinner celebration, so it's customary for them to speak. However, whoever is hosting (read: paying for) this event should be given the option to give a speech, be it family members or friends. The rehearsal dinner is also a great opportunity for bridesmaids, groomsmen and any other friends or family members who aren't speaking at the wedding to give a speech. And if there's time, one of our favorite rehearsal dinner ideas is to open the floor up for anyone to share a few impromptu words about what they love most about the couple.

Rehearsal Dinner Speech Order

When it comes to rehearsal dinner speech etiquette, typically, the speeches will begin with the parents or father of the groom, followed by the parents or father of the bride, if they are also hosting the rehearsal dinner. After that, other wedding party members can speak, followed by other family or friends of the couple. After all the planned speakers have delivered their speeches, the floor may be opened for anyone who wants to give their well wishes.

When to Give Rehearsal Dinner Speeches

Rehearsal dinner speeches typically take place after the meal has been served, which allows guests to enjoy their food and drinks before the formalities begin. The exact timing may vary, but it's common for the speeches to occur towards the latter part of the evening, once everyone is settled and ready to listen.

How Long Should a Rehearsal Dinner Speech Be?

Rehearsal dinner speeches should be concise and engaging. Ideally, they should last no longer than 5-7 minutes each, as the aim is to keep the guests entertained and maintain the flow of the evening. It's important to be mindful of time constraints and considerate of the other speakers and guests.

How to Write a Rehearsal Dinner Speech

Have you been tasked with giving a speech at a rehearsal dinner? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Follow these general guidelines to rock your speech:

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Start with an introduction and welcome.

Begin with a warm introduction of yourself and the event, acknowledging the significance of the occasion and expressing gratitude for being a part of it.

Tell a story.

Share personal stories and anecdotes that highlight the couple's love, their journey together, and their unique qualities. These stories should be meaningful and reflect the couple's relationship.

"It's important to remember what's happening in context–it's the continuation of the story of these two people, their families, their communities," says Murray. "Make these guests feel like this love story is part of their common story"

Incorporate humor.

Inject humor and lightheartedness into the speech to engage the audience and create an enjoyable atmosphere. However, it's important to strike a balance and ensure the humor is appropriate and doesn't overshadow the sentiment.

Be vulnerable.

Whatever emotions you're feeling at the time are totally natural. "It's okay to be nervous, or to get a little emotional," says Murray. Don't worry about reading off a piece of paper–you're not expected to have memorized the speech by heart. But, Murray advises against reading off your phone to err on the side of showing proper respect for the situation.

Give thanks.

Express sincere appreciation and thanks to the parents, wedding party, and anyone else who has contributed to the wedding planning process.

End on a positive note.

End the speech on a high note by offering well wishes, words of advice, or a heartfelt toast to the couple's future. "Ultimately, the goal of a rehearsal dinner speech is getting up and telling the truth about this person, this couple, this union," says Murray. "It's helping everyone understand this union a little better."

Rehearsal Dinner Speech Examples

Now that we've covered the basics, here are some examples of rehearsal dinner speeches:

Parents of the Couple Rehearsal Dinner Speech Examples

Ladies and gentlemen, as the [father/mother/parent] of [child's name], tonight is a truly special and emotional moment for me. Seeing my [son/daughter/child] here, on the eve of [his/her/their] wedding, fills my heart with overwhelming joy and pride.

From the day [he/she/they] was/were born, she has brought immense happiness to our lives. I have watched [him/her/them] grow into a remarkable person, filled with kindness, grace, and a spirit that shines brightly. And now, as I stand before you tonight, I am filled with gratitude for the incredible person [he/she/they] has/have become.

I want to take a moment to express my deepest appreciation to everyone gathered here. Your presence tonight signifies the love and support that surrounds our family. Your unwavering support and friendship have meant the world to us, and we are forever grateful.

To our [son/daughter/child] and their beloved partner, words cannot adequately express the depth of love we have for you both. Your love story has been a beautiful journey to witness, filled with laughter, shared dreams, and unwavering devotion.

As you embark on this new chapter of your lives, I want you to remember that love is a precious gift that should always be cherished and nurtured. May your journey be filled with love, joy, and endless blessings. Cheers!

Wedding Party Rehearsal Dinner Speech Examples

Ladies and gentlemen, as [insert relationship] to [name of marrier], I am filled with joy and excitement on this special day.

From the moment I met [name of marrier], I knew their love story was destined for greatness. Tonight, we gather to celebrate their journey, filled with laughter, genuine affection, and an undeniable connection. Their love has grown stronger through the ups and downs, built on trust, respect, unwavering support, [Insert more values here]. [Insert anecdote or story here.]

To [couple], thank you for allowing me to be a part of your special day. It is an honor to witness the union of two souls meant to be together.

May your lives be filled with endless joy, adventures, and a love that continues to grow. I'd like to raise a glass to a lifetime of happiness and beautiful memories together. Cheers to the happy couple!

Additional Rehearsal Dinner Speech Examples for Family and Friends

Hello everyone. As a proud member of [marrier]'s family, I am filled with joy and gratitude on this special day.

Seeing [couple's names] find love and happiness brings immense pride to our family. [Insert anecdote or story here.] Tonight, we gather to celebrate the union of two extraordinary individuals and the joining of our families. May their love continue to grow, bringing them endless joy and cherished memories.

To [couple's names], as you embark on this new chapter, know that our family stands beside you, offering our love and support. Cheers to the happy couple and the love that unites us all. Cheers to love and new beginnings!

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