Expressing love, hope, humour and gratitude, wedding speeches are an opportunity to pay tribute to the people associated with the occasion - the newly weds and the people closest to them.
Whatever its style, a speech should be warm, personal and brief. Generally it will finish with a toast to the person honoured in the speech, so plan to have enough bottles of bubbly supplied to all the tables.
For many, speech making can be nerve wracking. Remember that this is a time for celebration. No one will judge mistakes too harshly, but it can help to prepare and practise. Make clear notes to act as a prompt.
Speeches should not offend or humiliate the guests or members of the wedding party.
Larger weddings generally have a Master of Ceremonies whose job is to introduce the speakers. The speeches usually take place before the meal is served or between the entrée and main meal.
The speeches often start with a toast to absent friends, a heart-warming tradition touched by solemnity. Then it's the turn of the bride's father, or a close relative from the bride's side of the family. This speech will usually touch on special moments in the bride's upbringing - the funny incidents, the triumphs, perhaps the hurdles overcome. Concluding, he will propose a toast to the newly married couple.
One of the groom's first responsibilities as a spouse is to reply to this speech on the couple's behalf. He offers his appreciation to the bride's family for their input into the wedding and compliments the bride. He then pays tribute to his own parents, finishing his speech by proposing a toast to the attendants in the wedding party.
It isn't traditional for the bride to make a speech but now would be the time for a few words. The best man is responsible for replying on behalf of the attendants after which he may read messages of congratulations.