After cocktail hour it is time for dinner and to listen to some toasts. As many people know public speaking is the number one fear people have, yes, even above death! Martha Stewart Weddings gives a great article for a guide to toasting!
At your reception, only the VIPs should stand up to speck. The time for your sorority sisters to all speak about the many memories they have with you from college is at the rehearsal dinner- that's your open-mic night. Because the reception is larger, and the company is more diverse, the longer, more personal speeches should be kept for the evening before.
The host (i.e. the bride's father or parents) is first up. This is to welcome to groom's family into theirs and thoughtfully acknowledge any guests who had to travel. Also, this address is to say a few touching words to the newlyweds.
Next comes the best man and the maid of honor to speak, in that order. Their words can be funnier, more nostalgic, and light-hearted.
After that one or two other people can approach the mic. If you have siblings or non-hosting stepparents who want to say something this is the time.
When to Speak?
There are limited opportunities to get guests' attention without interrupting the fun. Even though you might be drinking Champagne at the start of the cocktail hour, thats not the best time to make toasts. Its hard to ask people to be quiet when they just came from a quiet ceremony. They want to catch up with friends and you want to get the energy going so its important to match your timing to the style of your meal.
For Seated Dinner
The father of the bride should welcome everyone and give a brief toast as guest first sit down to dinner. According to Martha Stewart the rest of the speeches can come at the tail end of the main course, when everyone is almost finished eating, although I like to do the maid of honor and best men speeches after the guests receive their first course so the couple can visit tables during the entree! The groom and/or bride should step up after the cake cutting.
For a Buffet
The transition between cocktail hour and dinner is the ideal window for the host's welcome. Have others speak after the first dance and save the bride and groom for dessert time.
For a Cocktail Reception
There are no rules, so to speak, at this setup. A good strategy? Ask the host to say a few words at the very beginning, have the rest of the toasts follow his lead, and then get the party started.
How to Make It Memorable
Whether you decide to talk or not, use-or pass along- these helpful hints!
Don't Wing It
Its important to map out what you're going to say- the beginning, middle, nd end. If you have a plan you won't ramble, which will make you feel more confident.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Tell them to aim for three to five minuts tops. Any longer and guest get antsy.
Limit the Storytelling
Remember: Most of the room didn't go to high school with you or the groom. Only tell stories that will resonate and entertain everyone.
Talk About the Couple
For other speakers, it's fine to start with, "I've known Carrie since third grade," but make sure you weave in the groom, too. The day is about both of them.
How to Avoid Trouble
Emotions, alcohol, and a microphone can make an already nerve-racking speech go all kinds of wrong. Here's what to do if...
A Tipsy Toaster Is on the Verge of Sharing Too Much
First, encourage your speakers not to hit the bar until after their moment in the spotlight is over. If it's too late for that, have your coordinator or next toaster on the agenda inch closer to the speaker and reach for the mic. It's not seamless but it works.
Your Maid of Honor Is Absolutely Terrified to Talk
See if she might be more comfortable reading a pre-written poem! Or if the stage fright is too much for her, give something to say. She's your friend and when it comes down to it, no one will know the difference. If sentiment is what you're hoping for, you can always ask her to write you a letter.