Your wedding night may be the main stage for speeches and roasts, but the rehearsal dinner is the unsung hero of the speech-making game. The rehearsal dinner is often where the funniest, most off-the-cuff speeches take place. With their relaxed vibe and free-flowing glasses of chardonnay, rehearsal dinners were practically created for memorable speeches and lifelong memories.
Like most wedding-related events, there are a number of traditions surrounding rehearsal dinner speeches; however, it’s up to you whether or not you want to follow the rules or create your own adventure. We’ll give you a run-down of the typical rehearsal dinner speeches, but of course, your final wedding rehearsal dinner speech roster is completely up to you.
Traditionally, the father of the groom kicks off the rehearsal dinner speeches. This tradition stems from the old-school rule that the father of the groom pays for the big dinner on the night before the wedding— but times are changing, and that’s not always the case anymore. Often, neither of the couple’s parents are expected to pay for the rehearsal dinner: the betrothed take care of the costs.
Despite these changing times, and even when the happy couple are the ones footing the bill, the father of the groom is often still the first one to take the microphone. Sometimes, both of the dads make this speech together. Other times, all the parents do— it depends on what the couple-to-be prefers.
No matter who speaks first, it’s customary for the first speech to welcome out of town guests and to thank everybody for joining in on the special weekend ahead. The first speech sets the tone for the entire weekend, so choose wisely!
Traditionally, the mothers of the happy couple speak after the fathers, but times have changed and in today’s wedding culture, that is not always the case. Many people would prefer for their parents to all speak together, some would rather their mother speak first. It’s up to you and your partner what you choose— but no matter what order you land on, it’s likely that, if both of your mothers will be in attendance, they will be giving a rehearsal dinner speech. It’s a great opportunity for the women who raised you to introduce themselves to newcomers and express their feelings about the upcoming event.
If you’ve chosen somebody close to your partner and yourself to officiate your wedding, it might make sense to introduce them to your out of town guests and wedding party prior to the actual ceremony. Allowing your officiant to take the mic at the rehearsal dinner will give your guests a richer feeling of connection during your ceremony and will highlight the thought and intention that you put into planning the program for your big day.
Unless you’re having a small wedding, it’s likely that you’re not incredibly close with everybody who will be attending your reception. Your rehearsal dinner is a different story. The rehearsal dinner is often an intimate affair where it’s just you, your partner, your immediate families, your wedding party, and the people who cared enough about your big day to come in from out of town. In other words, your rehearsal dinner is for your squad. Period.
Your wedding day is going to fly by, so use your rehearsal dinner as an opportunity to make a rehearsal dinner speech and individually thank your closest and most loyal for everything they’ve done to help make your special weekend possible. Thank your out of town guests. Make jokes. Encourage everybody to get to know each other. This is your A‑Team, and it’s a once in a lifetime experience to have them all in the same room. Let them know how glad you are that they’re here with you.
On your wedding day, it’s likely that your parents, best man, and maid of honor will be giving speeches. However, there are probably other people, both attendees and wedding party members, who you’d like to invite to say a few words. Your rehearsal dinner is their time to shine. Use the night before the big day to let your college roommate, uncle, cousin, or grandparent take center stage. They will appreciate the recognition, and you’ll love hearing what they have to say.
After a night of emotional speeches, jubilant toasts, and free flowing champagne, many of your guests might find that they too have something they want to say. Maybe they want to say how grateful they are to have seen this beautiful relationship blossom, maybe they want to thank the couple for all of their friendship in the past, or maybe they want to tell the story of the first time they saw their best friends with their future spouse. Maybe they want to comment that, if you look this sharp in your rehearsal dinner suit, they’re anticipating whatever you wear for the Big Day tomorrow. (If you’ve rented your formalwear with Generation Tux, they won’t be disappointed.)
Whatever it is, if they’re at your rehearsal dinner, chances are, they’ve been a good friend to you, and they deserve to be heard.
It’s for this reason that plenty of couples open up the floor to everybody at their rehearsal dinner after the main speeches have concluded. It gives everybody the opportunity to express their gratitude and excitement about the upcoming weekend, and provides a bonding experience for the entire group.
Rehearsal dinner speeches aren’t as formal as the speeches made on the wedding day, but that doesn’t mean they should fall flat. Rehearsal dinner speeches should be engaging, entertaining, and appropriate. If you’re set to give a rehearsal dinner speech for the first time, follow these simple tips for a smooth speaking experience:
Your rehearsal dinner stories don’t need to be as formal as you have to be at the wedding, but that doesn’t mean all bets are off. Remember, you aren’t just speaking to your friend and their fiance— you’re also speaking to their family and friends. While it may be tempting to use your speech as a roast, we encourage you not to embarrass them or paint them in a bad light— some stories are best left to be told across the bar at the bachelor or bachelorette party.
Sure, it seems intuitive to calm your public speaking nerves with a strong drink, but we encourage you to resist that urge. You worked hard writing your speech, and you don’t want to risk stumbling over your words or misreading your notes. While you should wait to imbibe, have no fear; as soon as you raise your glass at the end of your toast, you’re fre to drink.
Rehearsal dinners are not the time to practice your improv skills. In order to ensure a smooth, successful speech, we recommend writing everything down well in advance and practicing the whole speech out loud before the big night. Despite it being planned, practice will make the end product seem much more natural.
When was the first time you saw the couple together, and thought “wow, they’re a great pair?” Do you have a fond memory of something you’ve done with the happy couple as a team? Or, do you have a funny story about one of the partners that ill make the other one laugh? The rehearsal dinner is a great time to share these memories–they create a great vibe leading into the bid day.
Got stage fright? Calm your nerves by speaking directly to the friend or family member that you’re speaking about. Likely, they’ll be beaming with love for you and wiping away tears— and that connection will not only inspire you to speak with your heart, but it’ll banish the jitters.
Have a big day approaching? Spend more time on details like planning a flawless rehearsal dinner menu and wedding rehearsal dinner speech and less on getting fitted for a tuxedo or suit. With Generation Tux, grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests can create their own formalwear looks, complete with personalized accessories and color coordination. Get fitted, choose your look, and manage your details online from the comfort of your own home. Better yet, Generation Tux delivers your suit or tuxedo straight to your door 14 days before your big day. So take a breathe, relax, and let Generation Tux take the stress and anxiety out of the wedding day suit or tuxedo rental process.
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