Whether you’re the couple getting married or a friend who’s been given the honour, the idea of saying a wedding toast or speech makes most people pretty nervous! It’s tough to be funny, sentimental and engaging without telling an embarrassing story or putting everyone to sleep. No one wants to bomb their wedding toast!

Below we’re sharing our top tips for how to structure your speech and ensure it doesn’t suck. Plus, we’ll let you know the ideal wedding speech order, when speeches should happen and who actually should be giving a toast at the wedding!

What is a good wedding toast?

A good wedding toast or wedding speech is the perfect balancing act. It’s not too short or too long, it’s not boring but it’s not just jokes, and it’s sentimental without being overly emotional.

In order to write a good wedding toast, you want to put some thought into your speech ahead of time. Plan what you’re going to say and practice your delivery; don’t just wing it! If you’re the couple getting married, choose speakers who are responsible, comfortable in front of a crowd and know you well.

For more tips, check out our guides to writing a mother of the groom wedding speech, best man speech, father of the groom rehearsal dinner speech, wedding ceremony toast, and bride and groom (or couple getting married) speech.

Who should give a wedding toast?

Whoever you want! Ultimately it is up you, the couple getting married, to decide who will speak on your wedding day. Choose speakers who know you well and are meaningful in your life or in your relationship. If you’re having multiple speakers, it can be nice to choose people from different stages of your life, such as a sibling, who has known you forever, and a more recent friend, who spends a lot of time with you now.

You’ll also want to make sure the people you choose to give speeches are comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Even if they don’t have much speaking experience, they should at least be open to practicing and not be at risk of passing out from nerves. They should also be people you trust will take the time to write and practice their toast ahead of the big day.

wedding toast given by wedding guest in black and white
by Thea Loo and Jeremiah Reyes
wedding guests raising their glasses during a wedding toast
by Mattie C Photography

Who traditionally gives toasts for weddings?

Traditionally, toasts for weddings are given by the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. But if you think it’s odd that only men get to speak at this event, you’re not alone! There’s no reason you need to follow the traditional speech options. You can include more, different and/or non-male speakers in your wedding day.

Who gives the welcome to wedding speech?

The welcome to wedding speech, or welcome toast, is traditionally given by the host of the wedding as the first speech of the night. In the speech, the speaker will welcome everyone to the wedding and thank them for attending.

Traditionally, the host was the bride’s family, as they were paying for the wedding. Therefore, the father of the bride would give the wedding welcome speech. However, many modern weddings are paid for by both families and the couple, meaning there are multiple hosts.

In this case, the wedding welcome speech could be given by both families, where you ask each set of parents to take a quick turn at the mic. The welcome toast could also be given by the couple themselves, welcoming everyone to their wedding and thanking their parents for their help. Check out our resource for writing an awesome couple’s wedding speech!

If the wedding is being hosted (i.e. paid for) by multiple parties, whoever gives the welcome speech should be sure to include everyone in their warm welcome. For example, if the couple is speaking, they might say, “We want to thank our parents for helping to make this night possible. And together with our families we want to welcome you all to our wedding day and thank you for being here!”

bride and groom give a wedding speech
by John Bello Photography

How many speeches should happen at a wedding? 

Traditionally, only three speeches would be given at a wedding reception (father of the bride, groom, best man). But in most modern weddings, many more people are invited to speak.

While there’s no perfect number, we would advise not scheduling too many speeches. Not only will your guests get bored, tired and hungry having to listen to so many speeches, but the content may begin to feel repetitive. We suggest aiming for no more than 6 short speeches during your wedding reception.

If you have more people who would like to speak, consider some alternatives. You could ask people to team up and give a speech, such as asking your parents to speak together or your wedding party members. You could move some speeches to the rehearsal dinner, such as the traditional father of the groom rehearsal dinner speech. Or you could give these honoured guests other special wedding day roles, such as a reader or usher at your ceremony.

Wedding toast vs wedding speech: What’s the difference?

You may have noticed that we’ve used both “wedding toast” and “wedding speech” throughout this blog post. And that’s because these terms are used interchangeably. In most cases, there’s no difference between a wedding toast and a wedding speech – they are the same thing.

However, we suggest using the term “toast” when asking your loved ones to speak at your wedding. A toast sounds much less intimidating than a speech, so may put nervous speakers at ease. It also sounds shorter than a speech and like it should end with everyone raising their glass, which is exactly what you want!

A casual wedding toast > a stuffy wedding speech!

wedding guest giving a wedding toast at reception
by John Bello Photography
father of the groom wedding speech
by Mattie C Photography

Wedding toast order: What is the right wedding speech order?

The traditional wedding speech order is:

  1. Bride’s father
  2. Groom
  3. Best Man

In this traditional sequence, the bride’s father welcomes everyone to the wedding he paid for, the groom thanks the bride’s father and the best man lightens things up with a joke.

Of course, a more modern version of the wedding speech order might look like:

  1. Parents of the couple
  2. Couple
  3. Wedding party members

But remember: There is no one right way to organize your wedding speeches! You can use the speech order above or rearrange the speakers into an order that works better for you.

Many couples choose to speak first or last, as it may feel odd to speak in the middle. By speaking first, the newlywed couple can thank everyone for attending and thank their “wedding donors” for making the day possible. Plus, they don’t have to worry about getting emotional through the other speeches, since they won’t have to take the mic again. By speaking last, the couple can thank everyone else for speaking and wrap up the toasts.

Tip: If you’ll be having alcohol at your reception, we suggest putting any booze-friendly speakers towards the beginning of your reception. That way, you’ll ensure they’re not drunk by the time they pick up the mic!

brides listening to wedding toasts at their wedding reception
by Thea Loo and Jeremiah Reyes

When should the wedding toasts happen?

Not only will you need to decide who speaks and in what order, but you’ll also have to choose when speeches will take place during your reception. If you’re working with a wedding planner, definitely get their advice.

Wedding speeches can occur before, during and/or after dinner. Some couples choose to do all the speeches at once and others prefer to break them up. There’s no one right way to organize this, but there are some factors to consider:

  • If you keep all the speeches together, your guests may grow tired of hearing speaker after speaker. But if you break them up, you may mess with the flow of the evening if guests are busy talking to one another.
  • If you do all of the speeches before dinner, your speakers won’t be drunk yet (hopefully!), your guests and speakers are free to enjoy dinner, and everyone can head straight to the dance floor afterwards. However, your guests may get really hungry waiting through speeches for dinner to start.
  • If you put all of the speeches after dinner, no one will be hungry, but you risk your speakers drinking too much during dinner and your guests getting bored because they have to sit for so long.
  • If you do speeches during dinner, your speakers may not have a chance to eat and your guests may feel their dinner conversation is being constantly interrupted. But at least no one is sitting there bored!
wedding toast at hycroft manor with young hip & married vancouver wedding
by Mattie C Photography
bridesmaid speech, maid of honor speech, wedding toast
by John Bello Photography

How long should a wedding toast be?

The last thing you want is for all of your guests to fall asleep as a speaker drones on and on, losing the room and killing the energy. When it comes to wedding toasts, less is definitely more!

Speeches should be on the short side – no more than five minutes. Ensure you’re telling every speaker that they only have five minutes or else the whole night will get pushed back. Guests will be eagre to eat, drink or dance, so you don’t want speeches to run long.

Tip: It may be better to tell speakers their wedding toast should only be 3 minutes long, but allow for 5 minutes in your wedding day schedule. That way, you have built in buffer time for any speeches that run long. You’ll also want to account for extra time for applause, speakers getting to the mic, technical difficulties, etc.

3 things couples need to do when planning wedding toast speakers

Before we turn it over to the speech-givers, a few tips for the newlyweds-to-be when planning your wedding speeches:

  1. Decide on your chosen speakers early and give them lots of notice to accept the speaking position, write and practice their speech.
  2. Give your speakers clear instructions about how long their speech should be (apx 3-5 mins) and any topics that are off-limits.
  3. Let your speakers know when in the evening they will be speaking and have your wedding planner give them a 10 minute heads up so they are ready to go.
bride and groom giving a wedding speech at hycroft manor, vancouver wedding with young hip & married
by Mattie C Photography
raise your glass for a wedding toast
by Tomasz Wagner

10 toast ideas for wedding speeches that won’t suck!

Couples, feel free to send the below list to all of your wedding speakers.

All right, wedding speakers, this list is for you! Below we’re sharing our top 10 tips for how to structure, write and deliver your wedding toast. Let’s write a wedding speech that doesn’t suck!

  1. Start early. Don’t wait until the week before or day of to write your speech. Start working on your wedding toast weeks or months in advance. Make sure you’re sticking to the couple’s guidelines, especially when it comes to how long your speech should be. Keep it short and sweet!
  2. Write it down. Don’t try to memorize your wedding toast. Odds are you’ll be nervous (and maybe a few drinks in), so there’s a good chance you forget everything and have to wing it. Go the extra mile and write your speech down on paper instead of reading it off of your phone. That way it won’t look like you’re just checking your email in all of the wedding photos!
  3. Practice. Even though you’ll have your wedding speech written down, you still need to practice and get comfortable saying it out loud. The more comfortable you are with your words, the more you’ll be able to naturally connect on the big night.
  4. Avoid taboo topics. No one wants a cringe-worthy wedding toast! Avoid any topics that might embarrass or upset the couple or their guests, such as family drama, politics/religion, exes and stories where they’re under the influence.
  5. Avoid inside jokes. As a close loved one of the couple, you probably have a ton of inside jokes and you may want to show off your close bond during your speech. However, we suggest saving those for another time. While your wedding toast can be funny, a bunch of inside jokes will only fall flat and alienate all of the other guests.
  6. Avoid alcohol. If possible, wait until after your speech to start helping yourself to the open bar. A quick sip for liquid courage might be okay but if you’re seeing double, you’ve gone too far. You can also give your wedding toast without alcohol; raise a mocktail or glass of soda instead!
  7. Introduce yourself. Start your wedding speech off by introducing yourself and your relationship to the couple. However, you don’t need to thank everyone for coming unless you’re the host or it’s your wedding.
  8. Focus on only a few main points. Your wedding speech should focus on just 1-3 aspects of the person or couple, not absolutely everything you know about them. Hone in on 1-3 characteristics you want to share and tell a story that illustrates those points.
  9. Address both members of the couple. Remember, just because you’re best friends with or related to one member of the couple, doesn’t mean you can spend your whole speech only talking about them. Sure, your sister can be the main focus, but you’ll also want to include the person she’s marrying in your wedding speech!
  10. Raise your glass of wedding toast champagne! Don’t forget to ask people to raise their glass! Too many wedding speeches launch right into a “Cheers!” without giving guests a chance to get their glasses first. Instead, end your speech by saying something like, “Let’s all raise a glass to the newlyweds. I couldn’t be happier for you two and I love you both so much. Cheers!”

Ready to write your wedding toast? We hope so! Speaking of words at weddings, it all starts with a custom and creative wedding ceremony that is personalized to you. Check out our wedding ceremony packages and get in touch to book your wedding officiant today!