Your wedding day will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable days of your life. Yet, with great days, comes a great need for planning. One aspect that certainly needs some attention — is the wedding speech order. As you most likely know, the wedding speeches usually happen at a couple’s wedding reception, either before or after the meal. Anecdotes are made, laughs are had, and it’s all-in-all a lovely way to congratulate the newlyweds, wishing them luck for their future endeavours together.
As with most traditional wedding facets, there is a “traditional” wedding speech order. However, let us remember, that we are living in a modern world. Whilst there is nothing wrong with wanting to stick to tradition, some couples would understandably prefer to mix up the wedding speech order a bit, ensuring inclusivity and fairness on every count.
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of your wedding speech order. Before that, however - we've got a helpful and easily downloadable infographic about the wedding speech order for those of you who are more visual learners.
The “traditional” wedding speech order
When unravelling tradition, we have to go back to the start. Just for a bit. The origins of toasts and speeches actually date back to ancient societies. They would raise their cup as an offering to their gods. Toasting specifically at weddings can be traced back to the sixth century B.C. The bride’s father would drink first, proving that their shared wine had not poisoned - oooh er!
Nowadays, the fear of poisoning is relatively low, or at least, we hope! However, the tradition of the father of the bride starting off the wedding speech order remains true. The rest of the order goes as follows:
- Father of the bride
- Best man
- Other toasts
It goes without saying that there are obviously some fairly important factors being missed out here. The bride, the bridesmaids, maid of honour, mother of the bride, same-sex couples, those who don’t identify with any gender… Traditionally, women don’t get a word in. But fear not! We’ll be going over all of these wedding speech orders, too.
If you do want to stick to tradition, then this is the option for you. If not, hang tight.
The “less traditional” wedding speech order
Let’s get into the less traditional order for your speeches. This time, including those left out previously.
The order could go:
- Father of the bride
- Bridesmaids/maid of honour
- Best man
Tradition or no tradition, the best man’s speech tends to go last, following the speech of the bridesmaids and/or maid of honour.
Evidently, this is a slightly less traditional, slightly more female-inclusive wedding speech order. It has become increasingly popular in the last few years for brides to give a speech, with bridesmaids and maids of honour opting to say a few words, too.
Not only that, it has been noted on many websites and forums that in their speeches, brides should thank the guests for arriving, thank the parents and bridesmaids, compliment the groom, and propose a toast. If this is what you want to do, that’s great. However, if you are a bride and feel obliged to stick to this, stop fearing now. If the best man can crack some jokes, so can you. If the groom wants to make a silly anecdote, so can you. If you want to make a speech on the state of global warming, go for it. Your speech, your rules. Always.
The more inclusive wedding speech order
The rise in these kinds of weddings has increased in recent years, due to a relaxation of laws. Of course, many countries still don’t recognise these kinds of unions, but luckily here in the UK, we do.
One of the great things about an LGBTQI+ wedding is that the wedding speech order is almost entirely down to you. If there are two brides, it could be something as follows (if you so desire);
- Father/mother of the bride
- Mother/father of the second bride (stuck with who should go first? You could decide with something as simple as picking a name out of a hat, or who’s birthday is first, etc.)
- Bride(s) (either one by one, or together)
- Maid of honour(s) same as above
So, as you can see, there’s a lot of flexibility there, and it’s all down to you. The same formula as above can be used if it’s a groom-groom wedding, too, obviously swapping bride for groom and maid of honour for best man.
What about a non-binary wedding speech order?
In terms of gender-neutral ceremonies, the idea is the same; the order is essentially down to you. Because traditional wedding speech orders didn’t include any relationship besides a heterosexual one, you have freedom in catering to your own wishes in how the speeches play out.
One idea that you could take on if you’re lacking in inspiration could be as follows:
- Mother/father of the partner (order up to you)
- Father/mother of the partner (order up to you)
- Partner(s) (either going one by one or together)
- Best person/person of honour
Something else to bear in mind is that wedding terms and names are generally gendered. So instead of making anyone uncomfortable, why not swap the more traditional terms for some gender-neutral ones, like a partner, significant other, newlywed, spouse, best person, a person of honour, wedding party (instead of bridesmaids or groomsmen), Mx. (instead of Mr or Mrs), ring bearer, and flower pal.
Everyone’s a part of the wedding speech order
You may have thought that we’ve now exhausted most of the wedding speech order options; Ha! Not quite. As we mentioned in our 2022 wedding trends article, a lot of ceremonies have recently introduced the idea of a lot more people giving speeches outside the usual tradition. The popularity of popcorn speeches (taking a number and giving a speech when it’s your turn) has been seen, where friends and family members get a chance to say a few words. A fantastic idea, as long as a time limit is introduced - especially if this happens before the meal. We don't want people getting hangry...
If you wanted to take the pressure off the bride, groom, partners, parents, best man, best people or maid of honour, then this is a great option for you.
It's your day, your way. Always.
What’s arguably more important than the order of the speeches is what is inside of them. Do not fret, however, as we’ve got a plethora of resources for you to check out, making the speech writing process much easier. Whether you’re writing a best man speech or a bride's speech, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also got a podcast episode on how to write a bride speech if you’re more of an auditory learner. Maybe you’d prefer some help putting pen to paper? Our Recommended supplier, Do Us A Ditty is more than happy to assist.