Before the wedding day, there’s a ceremony rehearsal followed by the rehearsal dinner. It’s the last party before the kick-off of your wedding festivities. Your most important guests are there, including your families and the wedding party.
The idea of a rehearsal dinner is to celebrate in a more intimate setting with loved ones before the big day. It gives families a chance to mingle and get to know each other better. The rehearsal dinner is also where the groom’s parents can take an active part in the celebration. But, which parent should give the rehearsal dinner toast or wedding speech? Zola is here to help with that decision.
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As far as wedding traditions go, rehearsal dinner speeches and toasts are some of the most memorable moments. The people you love take the mic to share heartfelt sentiments to get you started on your new life together. Every couple’s situation and family dynamics are different, so the groom’s mother can absolutely give a speech at the rehearsal dinner, if that’s what you want. The modern mother of the groom is taking a more active role in wedding activities more than ever before. Keep reading to find out the ins and outs of giving the speech at the rehearsal dinner.
According to tradition, the father and mother of the groom speak at rehearsal dinner. This is largely due to the tradition that the groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner, while the bride’s parents host the wedding. It allows for both sets of parents to have an opportunity to speak, since they are splitting some wedding-related costs. However, modern couples may opt to take on the financial aspect of the rehearsal dinner so that they can decide who will give the speeches.
Traditionally, it’s the groom’s father, but it’s perfectly fine to let mom say a few words. Family dynamics are different, and, perhaps, the father of the groom is deceased or estranged, so the mother of the groom can step in to give the first speech of the evening. Members of the wedding party, family, and friends that won’t be speaking at the reception can also give their speeches at the rehearsal dinner, if there’s an open mic.
A rehearsal dinner speech that will tug at the heartstrings and inspire will include some of the same elements as a wedding reception speech.
Get Introduced. If there’s a DJ or someone that can handle introduction duties, it’s best to let them introduce the speaker. That way, you can avoid having to use a knife to clink against a wine glass, and clearing your throat to get everyone’s attention. If there’s no master of ceremonies, then have the speakers do a short and sweet introduction before launching into their speech.
Use Storytelling to Your Advantage. The goal of any wedding rehearsal dinner speech is to talk about how much the engaged couple means to the speaker. It’s the opportunity for the mother of the groom to give an inside look at the groom through her eyes, plus tell a narrative that shows his personality traits and core values that she instilled in him. She can also talk about meeting the bride for the first time and about their relationship.
Talk Directly to the Couple. The mother of the groom can give an emotion-fueled speech, but make sure to address the bride and groom directly since they are the ones being honored. Just don’t mention exes, because that can get super awkward.
There’s no need to wrap up the speech with a long, drawn out anecdote, but rather a simple, “Let’s raise a glass to the couple,” and include well wishes that tie back to what was in the speech.
Hire a Wedding Speechwriter. Writing a speech ahead of time can be time-consuming, and with time constraints, it may be challenging to put everything you want into a 10-minute speech. Depending upon how soon you want to start on the speech, it’s best to hire a speechwriter months in advance, not wait until a couple of weeks before the wedding festivities kick off.
Find a Template Online. Speakers can Google a template to help get them started, but it’s best to just use that as a starting point, otherwise your toast and speech could come off emotionless like you’re reading a script. Find the emotional connection and memories to include in your speech. Finding a template online that asks questions for the
Read Off Your Phone or Note Cards. Coming off relaxed and speaking straight from the heart helps to make the best rehearsal dinner speeches and toasts. If reading off note cards makes you feel like you’re giving a presentation, then use your phone as a guide. Don’t keep your head down and get lost in what you wrote, rather continue to make eye contact every few lines.
Don’t Hold Your Glass. It’s tempting to want to clutch your wine glass while speaking to the bride and groom, but it will be a bit of a distraction. If you’re already holding the mic and your notes, then it may be hard to juggle. Set the glass on the table, or give it to someone to hold.
Pick Your Glass Back Up for the Toast. Your glass doesn’t have to be filled with wine, rather it can be filled with water. However, when you get ready to wrap the toast, have your glass in your hand, and actually take a sip after you toast—it’s like sealing the deal!
The number of people that give a speech or toast during the rehearsal dinner is totally up to you as the couple. But, traditionally, in addition to the groom’s mother and father, there are a few that are expected to say a few words.
The Maid of Honor and Best Man. Typically, the maid of honor and the best man would save their speeches for the main event, but if they want to share some sentiments at the rehearsal dinner in good natured fun, they can follow the groom’s parents. Perhaps they can share a few tidbits that didn’t make the cut for the wedding reception speeches.
The Bride and Groom. This is probably the best time to thank your circle for the amount of time, money, and support they have given to you both during the wedding planning process. Giving out any gifts to the wedding party would also be done at the rehearsal dinner as a way to thank them.
The Wedding Party. This is the prime opportunity for the wedding party to say a few words. Reach out in advance to see if anyone is interested in speaking or giving a toast. Encourage them that speaking isn’t mandatory, but they can share a memory, story, or simply express well-wishes.
Other Family Members. If your grandparents are there, allow them to say a few words if they are up to the task. This would also be the time where maybe a sibling or even a close cousin may want to share some fun stories of the couple.
The wedding rehearsal dinner is the kick-off to the wedding celebration. The big day is just hours away, so the rehearsal dinner is the opportunity to walk through the ceremony, and handle any last-minute items, as well as spend quality time with the people that mean the most to you. It’s a chance to pass out wedding party gifts, and to make special toasts to those that helped you with wedding planning and hosting, but it’s also time to enjoy your last few hours before becoming officially married.
Ultimately, it’s your decision on whom you want to allow to give a speech or toast during the rehearsal dinner, and whether or not it will be an open mic situation. The mother of the groom can give a speech, whether it’s before or after the father of the groom. It is up to the couple to decide how they want the rehearsal dinner to flow, because after all, it’s celebrating you.
For all of your wedding needs, including planning your rehearsal dinner, and to make sure that every step of the way runs smoothly, Zola is here to help. Zola offers a variety of tools to help make the wedding planning process easier for you and your wedding guests.