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Who Gives Speeches at a Rehearsal Dinner?

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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.

Father of the Groom and/or Bride

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!

Mother of the Bride and/or Groom

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. 

Wedding Officiant 

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.

The Happy Couple

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.

Close Family or Friend Members

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. 

Open Mic Night?

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.

A Toast to Speeches

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:

  • Paint Your Friend Pos­i­tive­ly

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.

  • Wait to Drink

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.

  • Write it Down

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. 

  • Tell a Sto­ry

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.

  • Focus on Your Friend

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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