So, you were just asked to give a speech at a wedding rehearsal dinner. What are you supposed to do? Where do you start? What do you say? Don’t worry, we’ve got here.
Here’s everything you need to know about writing and giving the best rehearsal dinner speech.
A rehearsal dinner is typically the night before the wedding and it takes place after the rehearsal. The rehearsal is all about making sure people know when and where they’re supposed to be during the actual wedding ceremony. The dinner is just a little mini celebration at the end to ring in the wedding festivities of the next day.
A rehearsal dinner is way more intimate than the reception and usually only people who are in the wedding party or close family attend. Therefore, being asked to give a speech at the rehearsal dinner feels more special, emotional, and intimate. Brian Franklin, Founder of Vows and Speeches, says, “due to the intimate nature of the setting, the speech does not need to be formal. Your speech should pay tribute to the couple, do no harm (nothing inappropriate), and should be a highlight of the evening for all in attendance.”
The dinner itself is traditionally hosted by the parents or guardians, who also usually give some kind of toast or speech during the dinner.
Just like with everything else in weddings, there are traditions, but those traditions can change based on whose wedding it is. Traditionally, the people asked to give speeches during the rehearsal dinner are the fathers of the couple, the couple themselves, and the Best Person or Person of Honor in the wedding party.
The biggest difference between a rehearsal dinner speech and a reception speech is the tone of the speech. Like we said earlier, the rehearsal dinner is a way more intimate setting and the speech is for people who are the closest to the couple.
Although this is a more intimate setting, it’s also more informal. There’s usually no set time when the speeches should take place and there’s no set order. So the couple can really decide whatever they want to do. During the wedding reception, there’s usually a more traditionally planned out order and time for speeches.
The speeches themselves are also usually different lengths. Because the reception is more formal, the speeches are usually on the longer side. In comparison, rehearsal dinner speeches run on the shorter side. Generally, rehearsal dinner speeches last between 2-5 minutes. Short and sweet.
Another huge difference between the rehearsal and reception is the amount of pressure. Don’t stress yourself out over a rehearsal dinner. You’ll be surrounded by the people closest to the couple and it’s meant to be a more relaxed time. There’s no pressure on your speech to be picture-perfect. Just keep it genuine and from the heart.
Although a rehearsal dinner speech is less formal than a reception speech, you might still feel a bit nervous preparing and giving a speech in front of a group of people. Here are some tips to help you feel prepared and relaxed before writing and giving your speech.
Where to store your speech
If you’re nervous to give your speech, it’s always a good idea to either write down an outline for your speech or have your speech written down word-for-word rather than adding pressure on yourself to memorize it as well. You can write and store your speech in the notes on your phone, on flashcards, or even just print it out on a sheet of paper.
Think about who your audience will be
Like we said before, usually the rehearsal dinner is for close friends and family. If the dinner is filled with more family than friends, maybe you should save those dirty jokes for a different time. Change your voice and style of speech to fit your audience. But, really, at the end of the day, your real audience is the couple.
Use inside jokes
Sure, the whole audience may not understand an inside joke between you and the couple, but the main audience (the couple) will appreciate it. Inside jokes are a great way to establish your relationship with the couple and if the couple laughs, everyone else will laugh too. Even if they don’t totally understand what they’re laughing about.
Keep it short and sweet
Again, your speech should be under 5 minutes. No one wants to sit through a novel about how you met the couple. People want to eat. Tell your stories in a short and concise way, highlight positive things about the couple, and if you tell more than one story, all the stories should have a common theme.
For example, choose one of your favorite traits about your friend (maybe how funny they are). Then, tell two stories about times when you two got into funny or embarrassing situations. Then you can tie in at the end, how that person will bring their humor into their marriage.
Mention their partner
Make sure you don’t just make the speech about you and your friend. At the end of the day, the speech is about your friend getting married. Make sure you talk about your relationship with their partner and how you’ve noticed your friend fall in love with them.
You don’t have to write it alone
Work with other members of the wedding party on writing this speech. Bounce ideas off of them, practice in front of them, or have them read it over before you give it. It’ll help you feel way more comfortable if you work with someone else on your ideas.
If you’re still nervous about the speech, the best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice. Read the speech out loud a few times before you have to give it or say it in front of someone else. Take a deep breath and know that even if your speech isn’t “perfect”, it’ll be perfect to the couple and your audience.
Now that you have a base on things you should think about when writing your speech, let’s actually write it. Here are all the parts you should include in your speech and what to include in each section:
Even though you’re close to the couple, not everyone is going to know who you are. Start your speech by introducing yourself and let people know how you know the couple. If you’re the first speech of the night, also welcome all the guests. Keep this super short (1-3 sentences).
We talked a little bit about stories earlier, but think about anecdotes to tell about your friend or the couple. This could be a memory about how you met, how the couple met each other, or something sentimental about your friendship.
You can tell more than one story, but make sure all your stories have a common thread whether that be a feeling, a trait of your friend, or the couple themselves.
In the story section of your speech, you can absolutely inject humor and tell funny stories, but it’s always a good idea to end with a sentimental story that’ll put everyone right in their feels.
Need help thinking about stories to tell? Here are some prompts to get you thinking:
After your stories, dedicate a sentence or two to sum up what threads these stories together. Summarize the whole theme of your speech.
Finally, because you’re giving this speech at the rehearsal dinner, talk about how excited you are for these two to get married tomorrow!