Planning a wedding can be hard. If you have never been to a wedding before, or a traditional Western marriage ceremony, some things may not be common knowledge for you.
The traditional Christian Western wedding ceremony is jammed full of rituals and order that the Bride and Groom will often want to follow.
Obviously, at the actual marriage ceremony in the church, usually only family are invited to this part, no one makes a speech apart from the priest.
All the speeches are held for the wedding reception which happens after the ceremony and is much more open in its invitations.
In this guide we will run you through who usually makes these toasts in the traditional ceremony and where there can be room for variation as well as some tips. Let’s explore this topic together.
Should There Be An Order?
Typically, there is an order for who speaks and when. This solves a few problems for you without causing too much of a stir.
As people will be eating (although not always) it’s always good for people to know when to speak.
Firstly, this puts a time limit on the whole thing, this stops your guests from getting too restless as the famous dances often come after these speeches, which your guests will be looking forward to more.
Secondly, placing a time limit on each speaker can stop one speaker from running on too long and imposing on someone else’s speech. We all have an uncle who could win any NASCAR derby with his motor mouth.
Lastly, an order can give your speakers the time to prepare their speeches properly. Knowing how long they are expected to speak and who they may be following can shape how their speeches are written and give this whole section some more order.
It’s important to remember you won’t be the only anxious party.
Having this sort of structure, no matter who speaks when, will always play in your favor and can make you seem like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Let the speakers know their order and run it over with the bride and groom, then everything should always go to plan no matter who speaks when.
Thankfully, this is what dress rehearsals are for. Here you will be able to see how everything will work out and if anyone should be switched around.
It’s always best to have a preliminary plan before you even embark on the rehearsals, and you can change it around as you see fit.
Is There A Traditional Order?
Traditionally, and we are talking about the utmost traditional ceremony here, is the parents of the bride and groom first, then the maid of honor, then the best man, then the bride and groom.
This is a good template to have, which is basically parents first then friends, then the happy couple. Although this is ultimately up to the bride and groom
Here is a template you can play around with quite a lot that still adheres to tradition but leaves more room open for variations and modern twists.
A Welcoming Toast
This is a great way to welcome people and make everything seem nice and friendly. If someone is hosting the wedding at a venue, they may want to welcome everyone.
If you are planning the wedding and you aren’t the bride or groom this is a good time to speak yourself, although not always necessary.
A toast gets everyone a drink and makes them feel part of something special.
In the more traditional wedding, the welcoming speech is usually made by the parents (who traditionally plan the wedding), toasting to the happy couple.
This is usually the parents of the bride rather than the groom, although there’s nothing stopping them both.
After people have been seated and have a drink, a traditional ceremony may have a member of the church bless the meal and say grace for everyone. Yet, this isn’t that common especially at a humanist wedding or civil partnership.
This blessing, by nature, should always happen before the meal. If the wedding was religious and a priest declared the marriage, then it is usually this priest who blesses the meal.
The Parent Speech
It’s always traditional that the parents are the first to give their speech, as they are where everything started.
The parents’ speech will be very special and sacred to them, this is their crowning moment as a parent, so allow them the space to get their speech out but be clear with them about time slots. Let the bride’s parents speak first and then the groom’s parents.
Maid Of Honor Speech
The maid of honor is usually chosen by the bride and is considered her support. This speech will, like the best man’s, have lots of memories and jokes about the bride before she met her man.
People often love these speeches so the maid of honor may feel quite nervous and appreciate your pre-planning.
Best Man Speech
These will always be full of jokes more than memories. The best man may be the most likely one to run on as everyone will love hearing all the scrapes the groom got into before they settled down.
In this case the best man may need reminding of their time slot. But, ladies always go first.
The Happy Couple’s Speech
Now is the time for the newlyweds to speak, they may reflect on what other people have spoken so they are usually at the end.
It’s likely both the bride and groom, whether they admit it or not, may have been writing this speech in their head since they were children, so let them at it.
If there is any speech you let go over, it makes sense for it to be this one. It would be a shame if others’ speeches ran into the newlyweds’ own time.
Although, the bride and groom will likely already be pretty nervous at this point and want to get to dancing, so play it by ear.
When the wedding reception goes off without a hitch, or with a hitch, this is usually due to planning. Liaise with the bride and groom, figure out what they want their ceremony to be like, and then plan accordingly.
Plan far in advance as this will give the speakers time to write their speeches and also gives you time to swap around the things that need to.
Sometimes you need to be a strict enforcer to keep the bride and groom happy, and every choice should always be run by them first. Happy planning!