Here's Who Gives Speeches at the Wedding vs. at the Rehearsal Dinner

Cheers to memorable wedding toasts from the people who love you the most.
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
Jessica Estrada
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
Jessica Estrada
The Knot Contributor
  • Jessica contributes wedding planning, wedding etiquette and relationship content to The Knot.
  • She also covers lifestyle and wellness topics for print and digital publications such Refinery29, Bustle, Well + Good, Cosmopolitan, Byrdie, The Zoe Report, The Cut and more.
  • Jessica has a journalism degree from Cal State University, Northridge and is certified as a life and success coach.
Updated Jul 25, 2021

As far as wedding traditions go, wedding speeches are definitely at the top of the list of most memorable moments of the wedding day. The people you love and know you best taking the mic and toasting you and your new spouse and your future together —there's nothing sweeter. Traditionally, there are a few key people that deliver speeches at weddings. However, every couple's situation and family dynamics are different and deciding who will deliver a speech at your wedding is totally up to you.

That said, in case you need some inspiration as to who gives speeches at weddings according to tradition and the best times to give them, below, Melisa Imberman of The Event Of A Lifetime, Inc., a full-service event and wedding planning company in New York City, gives us the scoop.

Who Gives Speeches at Weddings?

Traditionally, wedding speeches were reserved for the father of the bride and the best man, but couples these days like to shake things up and include other important guests as well. Although there may be many people who want to wish the newlyweds well and say a few words, time is of the essence during a wedding reception. You don't want the wedding speeches to drag on or cut into the dinner and dancing portion of the celebration.
To keep things concise and stick to your wedding timeline, Imberman recommends limiting speeches to just the VIPs, which includes the best man speech, the maid of honor speech, and the parent speeches. And, as a bonus, some couples also opt to give a bride's speech and/or a groom's speech, but that's up to you. Read on for details answering the question once and for all: Who gives speeches at weddings?

The Best Man Speech

Along with planning an epic bachelor party, one of the best man's wedding duties is delivering a best man's speech at the wedding reception. In his speech, the best man will typically introduce himself and his relationship to the groom, congratulate the couple, share an anecdote or funny story about the groom and end with a toast and best wishes.

The Maid of Honor Speech

The maid of honor speech also gives a speech at the wedding reception. The speech will usually follow an outline similar to the best man speech but with an emphasis on the bride and her journey to this milestone. The tone for both the best man speech and the maid of honor speech is typically heartwarming, encouraging, and lighthearted as they are typically the people that know the bride and groom the best.

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The Mother and/or Father of the Bride Speech

The father of the bride speech is one of the most anticipated speeches of the evening and likely the one that will have you reaching for the tissues. The mother of the bride can also deliver a speech. In their speeches, the bride's parents may share a heartfelt anecdote of the bride, mention their new son or daughter-in-law, and perhaps offer some words of wisdom for the couple.

The Mother and/or Father of the Groom Speech

According to tradition, the mother and father of the groom give a speech during the rehearsal dinner. This is because traditionally the groom's parents hosted the rehearsal dinner while the bride's parents hosting the wedding. Splitting the budget that way may or may not be the case for many couples, that's why Imberman recommends having both sets of parents speak during the wedding reception. The groom's parents' speeches can follow a similar format as the mother and father of the bride speeches.

Bride and/or Groom Speech

The bride and groom too can take the mic and give a speech. As the bride or groom, you can keep your speech short and just thank everyone for being there to celebrate your special day or deliver a full speech complete with a sweet story. Whatever you decide, Imberman's advice is to keep wedding speeches brief and speak from the heart. And feel free to get creative as well, some couples opt to deliver their speeches individually or give it together taking turns saying a few words.

Who Gives a Speech at the Rehearsal Dinner?

The rehearsal dinner's host(s), whether that be the groom's parents, bride's parents, or someone else, will usually speak first during the rehearsal dinner. Once they've welcomed everyone and said a few words, the floor is open for others to speak.

Since you don't want the wedding speeches to be super long during the wedding reception, Imberman says the rehearsal dinner is a great opportunity for bridesmaids, groomsmen, or other friends and family members to give a speech.

Rehearsal dinner toasts tend to be less formal since it's a more intimate group, so speeches can either be prepared ahead of time or spontaneous. Pro tip: For speeches that are planned in advance, it's helpful to share time limits, timeline and guidelines with the speakers.

Who Gives Speeches at Other Wedding Events?

The Engagement Party

The engagement party is one of the first wedding-related events that take place just after your significant other pops the question and is an opportunity to celebrate the great news with friends and family. Speeches at an engagement party are not absolutely necessary, but it is nice for someone to say a few words. According to tradition, whoever hosts the event will say a few words congratulating the happy couple, whether that be the bride's parents, the groom's parents, or the couple themselves.

The Bridal or Wedding Shower

Toasts or speeches are not usually given during a bridal or wedding shower, Imberman says, however it is nice for the host to welcome guests and wish the couple well. Traditionally, the maid of honor, wedding party, a friend, or in-laws host the wedding shower.

The Bach Party

According to Imberman, speeches are not required for a bachelorette or bachelor party, but it's definitely not uncommon. If someone does want to say a few words, whether it's the maid of honor, best man, a close friend, or another wedding party member, this is the opportunity to keep the speeches fun and light. For instance, the speech giver can save the heartwarming speech with sweet stories for the wedding reception and share a funny story or inside jokes that attendees would all get for the bach party.

The Post-Wedding Brunch

You're officially a married couple. Congrats! The post-wedding brunch ties up the wedding celebration with a bow and provides an opportunity for one last round of speeches. By this point, everyone will be all partied out, so it's a great idea to keep the speeches during the brunch very brief. As with all other wedding events, Imberman says, the host can say a few words, thank everyone for coming and clink glasses one last time. The newlyweds can also say a few words too to express their appreciation for all the love and celebration.

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