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Wedding speeches: the rules

Wedding speeches: the rules

Written by Katie Byrne

How to deliver the perfect speech on the big day


According to tradition, the father-of-the-bride begins the speeches at the end of the meal. However, it is becoming increasingly common to have the speeches before the meal - usually because it means nervous speakers can get their moment in the spotlight out of the way before sitting down to eat.


But whether it comes pre or post-dinner, dad's speech should generally follow this basic format...

- He will start by welcoming all the guests and thanking them for coming to celebrate his beautiful/charming/beloved (enter gushy adjective here!) daughter's wedding.

- He will go on to share a few cherished memories of you and most likely embarrass you a little. Then he'll turn his attentions to his new son-in-law, perhaps recounting the tale of when you first brought him home or when he asked for your hand in marriage. Generally, gentle teasing is the order of the day!

- Finally, he'll propose the traditional toast to the bride and groom and add a few heartfelt wishes to get those tear ducts filling up.

The groom

After daddy's introductions, it's time for your groom to step up. Many new husbands feel it's their duty to rival the best man in the comedy stakes, but all he really has to do is say a few words of thanks, tell you how wonderful you are, and maybe take a pop at the best man before his character assassination begins! His official jobs are as follows:


- To thanks the father-of-the-bride for his speech and toast and, if the parents have made a financial contribution to your day, thank them for their help.

- To express how happy he is, tell everyone how beautiful you look, perhaps include an anecdote or two about your relationship, then thank your parents (again!) for entrusting him with their daughter.

- To thank the guests for coming and for their lovely gifts, then give out any thank-you gifts to the bridesmaids, ushers and mums.

- Finally, he'll end the with the traditional toast to the bridesmaids, complimenting them on how beautiful they look.


The bride

As it's a relatively new custom for the bride and/or chief bridesmaid to say a few words, there is no set slot for you/her to step up, but generally this number three spot works well. Thank the groom for his kind words and get your tuppence in before the best man's finale! There are also also no set content rules, but you can mirror the groom's speech with some tender words on your relationship and your thanks to the guests and your parents, while your bridesmaid can lay down the gauntlet with some jokes to rival the best man's.



The best man

As the final speaker, the best man is tasked with making the biggest impact. Laughter, tears and surprises are par for the course, so be prepared for a roller coaster ride of emotions and try not to take anything he says too seriously - that tale about the sheep/stripper/night in the cells on the stag do is more than likely a complete fabrication anyway!

In addition to all the laughs, it is the best man's duty to thank your groom for his toast, read out any cards or emails from guests who are unable to attend and, lastly, to toast the parents, thanking them for hoasting such a wonderful and memorable occasion.

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