I love to give speeches and lectures but not everyone can be ready to do so.
Speeches are a very important part of a wedding. Not just as formalities within a ceremony, but to add insight to the bride and groom, and the union that has been established. There are three generally accepted speeches: the bride's father's speech, the best man's speech and the groom’s speech. It has also become customary for the maid/matron of honor to say a few words.
The bride’s father should be called upon by the toastmaster (or the best man) to propose a toast of 'health and happiness to the bride and bridegroom.' Before doing so, the father would normally welcome the groom’s parents, relatives of both families and any other guests, and welcome the groom to his family and say a few words about his daughter.
The groom replies on behalf of himself and his bride, thanking all the guests for coming. The groom typically introduces everyone in the wedding party and can tell a little story of each relation/friend and why they were asked to be a part of the wedding party. The bridegroom will propose the toast of the bridesmaids, and thank them for a job well done.
After the groom’s speech and toast (which is usually directed to his new family), the maid/matron of honor will follow with a toast to the bride, to be concluded with the best man’s wedding speech.
The best man's speech should be light-hearted and fun. It should be the high point of the reception and it is very often his ability to make this particular speech, with humor and interest, which should be one major deciding factor for the selection of the best man. The best man is also responsible for any messages from those unable to attend—in the old days this meant reading telegrams, but today could be sharing instant messages—and should finish with a toast to the parents of both the bride and groom.
I have also seen the bride take center stage as it has become quite common for her to say a few words, especially if someone close to her could not be present, or if she would like to express her feelings about her entourage, the day or her new husband. This speech always touches me as there is nothing more heavenly than someone dressed in white talking about love. She is like an angel of love and we get to witness that magic.
When you are asking your friends and family to make a speech at your wedding reception, be sure to specify how long you would like them to speak. Never force people to make a speech, but do offer them the chance, as some people get nervous and really do not like public speaking, unlike yours truly.
Stick to the following guidelines:
- Be open and honest – speak from the heart, be sincere and don't be afraid to express your gratitude.
- Keep it relevant – make sure to keep the focus.
- Always keep it clean. Need I say more?
- Stay balanced – try not to focus on just one person or side of the family
- Be complimentary – it is really nice to say how great everyone looks