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Episode 11: The Speeches

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Episode 11 of The Bouquet Toss is all about the tradition of the wedding toast and speeches! Learn where this tradition came from, and some best practices for incorporating them into your plans. Subscribe to The Bouquet Toss Podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!

Episode 11: The Speeches
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Listen to Episode #11: The Speeches

In this episode we are talking all about a special aspect of your wedding reception, the toasts or speeches! Who should give them? What should they say? When during the reception should they give it? What order should they be given in? We’re breaking down all the do’s and don’ts of wedding speeches, as well as alternatives for getting showered with love on your big day! Plus, you’ll find out why we call it a “toast” anyway!

As always, we’ve got info on the origin story, some historical details, fun facts, and tips to share with you so let’s get into it.

Where the wedding toast or speech tradition came from:

We should start by breaking this topic down into two separate parts: the drinking aspect and the speech aspect!

Drinking, clinking a glass, raising a toast:

In ancient times, when some families were most likely at war with their neighbors, they would sometimes attempt to come to a truce by marrying their children. Like today, the families would come together to share a meal as part of the celebration. During the celebratory dinner, the bride’s father would be the first to drink from a communal wine pitcher as a way to ease his guests’ minds… since he was drinking the wine, it was obviously not poisoned!


The gesture of clinking glasses together as part of a toast actually dates back to medieval times. A bell would be rung to signify that no evil spirits were present to do harm to the new union.


The original meaning of a wedding speech or toast was obviously to share good wishes for the new couple. Toasting to their health and good luck to send them off into married life with only the best vibes. Guests are usually invited by the person making the toast to raise their glasses, and to drink to the happy couple’s health, wealth and happiness.

Wedding speeches—whether heartfelt or hilarious—remind everyone in attendance why they are gathered together: to celebrate two people in love. 

An entertaining wedding speech can make the evening more memorable for both the couple and their guests. The speeches often serve as the bridge between the formal wedding ceremony and dinner and the official start of the reception dancing and celebration. 

Wedding Speech Guidelines – Who, What, Where, When, Why, How?

Many of the traditional speech-giving guidelines follow gender norms that might feel outdated and not in line with your preferences. Don’t feel like you have to follow any of this advice to a T– as with everything pick and choose what feels best to you and feel free to toss the rest. For reference, the UK advice varied greatly and leaned way more traditional than the US-based resources.

Some of these guidelines include who should give speeches at the wedding, the order they should happen in, and what they should include. 

These are all born out of societal norms when hosting a party, and have evolved from there into traditions many people follow, but seemingly not because they have any special significance, and more because it’s just what everybody does!


There seems to be some conflicting reports out there about the official order of wedding speeches. We found different responses for these, but we’ll share each of them. 

Traditional” wedding speech order:
According to UK-based resource Hitched, the best man’s speech always goes last.

  1. Father of the bride
  2. Groom
  3. Best man and other toasts. 

If the bride or bridesmaids/maid of honor choose to give a speech, the order would go:

  1. Father of the bride
  2. Groom
  3. Bride
  4. Bridesmaids/maid of honor
  5. Best man

“Modern” Wedding Speech Order:

This is the advice shared by US wedding resource, WeddingWire.

  1. Best man
  2. Maid of honor
  3. Parents of either spouse
  4. Couple

What Makes a Good Wedding Speech

Speeches can feel intimidating, and we’ve all been to a wedding where a speech went on for a little too long, was a little too personal, or borderline embarrassing. It can be difficult to hit all the right notes when it comes to making a speech. If you do decide to include speeches in your official reception, give your toast-makers plenty of a heads up as well as some guidelines to help them and let them know what you expect.  

wedding toasts 101
Wedding Toasts 101 from Pete Honsberger

Wedding Toast Tips

  • Keep it brief, 1-2 minutes is ideal, 3 mins max
  • Keep it upbeat, leave the guests and couple feeling good
  • Recognize both partners in the couple, not just one
  • Prepare your speech well in advance. Don’t wait until the night before or day-of!
  • No jokes related to the honeymoon, previous relationships, future children, or sex
  • Don’t drink too much before giving a speech
  • If you’re not completely off-book, bring notecards with it written or have a copy on your phone so you can practice on the go.

Check out the book Wedding Toasts 101 for great tips for outlining your speech to make it hit all the right notes.

Newlywed Speech Tips

According to Hitched, a relatively new trend is for the bride to give her own speech, or to join her new spouse in a joint speech. 

If you’re listening to this and considering giving a speech at your own wedding or rehearsal dinner, these tips may help you outline your speech content. They suggest including the following:

  • Thank your guests for celebrating with you.
  • Acknowledge your parents and thank them for their love and support.
  • Thank your wedding party for standing beside you. 
  • Compliment your new spouse and tell a romantic/funny anecdote about him/her.
  • Raise a toast!
wedding speeches
Image via Canva

Alternatives to traditional wedding speeches:

Keep the wedding night filled with dancing and celebration by having your closest loved ones share their speeches on rehearsal dinner night. Keep your wedding reception speeches short if possible. 

  • Give a joint speech, or allow your speech-givers to team up.
  • Switch up the speech-givers if needed!
  • Alter the timeline of the speeches– intersperse them throughout the night.
  • Create a video if you have stage fright or for anyone who may not be able to attend in person (especially right now due to COVID.)
  • Have an “Open Mic” — may be great if you have lots of confident or funny friends, and aren’t big on dancing. Having a time-limit is great!
  • Plan a surprise performance like a song or dance/flash mob!

Where the term “toast” came from:

The act of raising a drink to the happy couple is given the name “toast” because wine was not always an enjoyable beverage to drink. Ye olde wine was actually often a bit rancid! Before the wine was shared with guests, an actual piece of burnt toast was placed into the pitcher to absorb some of the acidity! The host would also typically eat the piece of soggy bread after the guests emptied the vessel as a sign of courtesy to his guests. We think champagne is better!

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Links referenced in or for this episode:

As with everything we discuss here on The Bouquet Toss, it doesn’t *really* matter what we think, it’s about choosing what works for YOU and tossing the rest!

We want to know what YOU think about wedding toasts and speeches, and what your plans are for yours! Join us in our private community where we’re discussing this, or visit our Instagram page to comment on the post about this episode!

The Bouquet Toss Podcast

About The Bouquet Toss Podcast

The Bouquet Toss Podcast is Part of the Evergreen Podcasts Network

The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast that empowers couples to plan a meaningful, authentic, and affordable wedding celebration! On the show, we will have candid conversations all about weddings and why we do them the way we do so that couples can plan their weddings based on their own values, and not on the expectations of others.

In our Budget-Savvy Wedding Planning Community, we see the same questions asked over and over again. So many couples seem to be seeking permission to plan their weddings on their own terms, and we’re here to say go for it! We believe you should have your day, your way and our goal is to help empower you to plan a wedding celebration that actually feels authentic to you. 

This podcast is brought to you by TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and is hosted by the founder, Jessica Bishop, and real weddings editor Sari Weinerman. Subscribe on Apple or Spotify today!

In case you missed it, check out our other episodes:

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

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The Bouquet Toss Podcast Episode 11: Speeches + Toasts

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The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast dedicated to helping couples plan a wedding day that feels authentic to them! We examine wedding traditions and trends so you can decide what to keep and what to toss from your wedding day plans! Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!