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Toasts And Speeches

Following your “I do’s” there will be other speeches (of slightly longer duration) at your reception. Toasts and speeches are an important reception feature. They give your speakers the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings about you both – and they’re a great opportunity for you to let your family and guests know how special they are.

Of course, the question is: Who should speak and when? There’s a traditional order of speakers you will probably follow if your wedding and reception are to be very formal:

Your father delivers the first speech. He welcomes your guests and expresses his affection for you, perhaps recounting some amusing anecdotes from your youth. He also welcomes your groom into the family, and proposes a toast to you both.

Your groom responds by thanking your parents for the wedding, and his own parents for their love and support. He can then talk about you, before thanking his best man, the ushers, and your bridesmaids.

The best man traditionally responds on behalf of the bridesmaids. He thanks your groom for inviting him to be best man and relates a little of the history of their friendship. He then reads any faxes and emails sent by relatives and friends who couldn’t attend your wedding.

Your father responds by making further complimentary comments about you and his new son-in-law, as well as toasting the groom’s parents.

Your groom‘s father responds with his thanks, and wishes you and his son good health and happiness. However, these days tradition can be forgotten in the interests of creating a relaxed, happy event that’s uniquely yours. And don’t forget that toasts and speeches are no longer a boy thing. If you, your mother, or maid of honour would like to share your thoughts, that’s absolutely appropriate.

Never leave the speeches to chance. A little organisation will ensure that this part of your reception is as interesting, entertaining and meaningful as any other. When making a speech, speak slowly and clearly and don’t get carried away. Less is fine (two or three minutes is perfect) but more will be excessive. And keep it simple. An amusing anecdote or two works well, but lengthy storytelling makes you hard to follow. You’re addressing all of your guests, so leave out insider jokes that only a few will understand, don’t embarrass anyone, and don’t swear.

Rehearse your speech (great idea) prior to the day, and do not under any circumstances rely on a drink or two to see you through (recipe for disaster). Rather than launching into a list of thank you’s that would do an Oscar-winner proud, keep it broad: your parents, new family, and friends, and a general word of appreciation to any helpers. Make eye contact with the key players as you speak.

If the thought of speaking in front of a room full of people still makes you weak at the knees, you’d be glad to know that there are a number of books available which provide the right amount of inspiration, adaptable information and necessary humour to help you prepare the ideal speech.

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