The Complete Guide to Wedding Toasts

Learn everything about wedding speeches whether you are getting married, giving a speech, or a wedding professional

By Ben Boylan

wedding toast
David Perlman Photography

Were you asked to give a speech at a wedding and want help writing it? Are you getting married and want to know what to expect out of the toasts at your wedding? Or are you a wedding professional who is looking for the logistics of when and how the speeches will happen?

Public speaking is well known as many people's number one fear. And many people find wedding speeches to be boring. So why do we have them at all? When done right, they can be the highlight of a wedding. I'm a DJ who has worked at hundreds of weddings and heard a thousand speeches. So with the help of some top wedding pros, I'm about to teach you everything there is to know about wedding speeches.

  • A very brief history of wedding toasts

  • What's the difference between a wedding speech and a wedding toast?

  • Are wedding speeches given in a particular order? Who gives them?

  • Does the host still do a thank you toast?

  • What should you say in your wedding speech?

  • What makes a good wedding speech?

  • How should you start and end a wedding speech?

  • What are topics to stay away from in your wedding speech?

  • What are some of the most unique speeches heard by wedding pros?

  • What if you're asked to write a speech but can't attend the wedding?

  • Should you drink (or be drunk) before giving your wedding speech?

  • When should you be done writing your wedding speech?

  • At what point during the wedding should the speeches be given?

  • Where should you stand while giving a wedding speech?

  • How long should a wedding speech be?

A very brief history of wedding toasts

Toasts have been done regularly at weddings since the sixth century, explained Anise Catering. Wedding guests would pass a piece of toasted bread. Each guest would dip it in their glass of wine. When they were done, the host would eat it.

This removed the acidity from the wine and softened the bread too. Somewhere along the way, the toasters started saying a few words when they were passed the toast. The toast disappeared, but the words remained.

What's the difference between a wedding speech and a wedding toast?

A toast is a few words you say while raising your glass to the married couple. A speech is when, for instance, a best person or other guest gives a longer talk. And a toast is often done at the end of a speech. However, these two words are used interchangeably by most people.

Does the host still do a thank you toast?

Not as much. This tradition is disappearing

"Since many couples are getting married older, they are either omitting this or giving a quick thank you speech themselves at the end," said Tara of Dreammakers, an event planner specializing in NYC weddings.

Kate Arel of A Charmed Affair, an event planner based in the Catskills region of New York State agreed. "(The parents were) traditionally the primary patrons to the day, however this has changed significantly in recent years, with many couples paying for their own wedding celebrations, or funding coming from multiple family streams. Most commonly these days it's honor attendants giving speeches, with the occasional parents speeches."

wedding toast
David Perlman Photography

Are wedding speeches given in a particular order? Who gives them?

There is a traditional order, but it isn't always followed these days

"Typically wedding speeches have been given by the hosts of the party as well as the best person from both sides of the couple," said Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events, a New York City event planner who specializes in weddings.

"That being said this is changing and couples should ask the people that matter most in their life to speak, but also they should not have too many speakers, as guests do not always love speeches and most people are terrified of public speaking!" Jove added. "Parents/Hosts and one friend each is always my suggestion, otherwise it becomes too much talking and not enough partying!"

Here is the traditional order according to Brides Magazine:

  1. Host (welcome)

  2. Best person

  3. Best person

  4. Married couple