The Perfect Rehearsal Dinner Speech – Even If You Suck at Speeches

rehearsal dinner speechSo, you’ve been asked to give a rehearsal dinner speech, have you? If you’re feeling nervous, you’re in good company: many people do not relish the idea of standing up in a crowded room with all eyes on them to give a rehearsal dinner toast.

Fortunately, a rehearsal dinner speech doesn’t have to be long, complex, or difficult. All you have to do is prepare a little speech ahead of time and bring index cards or notes on your smart phone and you’ll be good to go. Or, if you’re really nervous, feel free to write down your rehearsal dinner toast verbatim on a sheet of paper. It won’t be the end of the world!

The Perfect Rehearsal Dinner Speech – Start to Finish


1) Begin with the basics.

There will probably be at least a few people at the rehearsal dinner who have never met you, so start by (1) saying hello, (2) introducing yourself, (3) welcoming everyone, and (4) expressing your enthusiasm for the upcoming wedding. Keep it brief. Here are some sample rehearsal dinner toasts:

  • “Good evening everyone and thank you very much for being here to celebrate Kathryn and Fraser’s wedding. My name is Chuck. I am the groom’s father and I am so excited to be a part of such an important occasion.”
  • “Hi, everyone, and thanks so much for being here tonight.  I’m the groom’s dad, Chuck, and I hope you all are looking forward to this beautiful wedding as much as I am.”

2) Tell a story.

The idea here is to tell a cute and/or funny and/or interesting and/or romantic anecdote that has something to do with the wedding. This is the part of the rehearsal dinner speech that people tend to sweat about because they worry that people won’t think they’re funny enough or witty enough.

I am here to say DO NOT worry about it. Your story can be a funny one, but it doesn’t have to be. By all means, if you know the hilarious tale of how the happy couple met, feel free to share it (as long as it isn’t too risque!), but if you don’t know a funny story, try something sweet or sentimental – like an anecdote from the bride or groom’s childhood.

Here are some sample rehearsal dinner toasts story ideas:

  • A funny story about a parent or sibling’s first impression of the bride/groom
  • The couple’s engagement story
  • The story of how the couple met
  • The story of how you met your own partner (then segue into something like “I hope the two of you are as blessed in marriage as I have been”)
  • A sweet memory from the bride or groom’s childhood (for example: “Kathryn used to run around with skinned knees in her brother’s hand-me-down clothes… I can hardly believe she’ll be in a white gown tomorrow, all grown up”)

3) Finish with something sentimental.

The best rehearsal dinner toast will tug at the heartstrings, just a little bit. To conclude your speech, say something heartfelt about the wedding and bride and groom. Or, if you aren’t the “touchy-feely” type, go with a nice quote about marriage. Then you don’t have the stress of having to come up with something yourself. Just say the quote, then cap it off with well wishes to the bride and groom on their big day. Last but not least, ask everyone to raise their glasses to the happy couple. That’s all there is to it!

Sample Rehearsal Dinner Toasts


“Welcome, everyone, and thank you so much for making the time to share in the wedding of Kathryn and my son, Fraser. My name is Chuck and I get the honor of ‘Father of the Groom’ this weekend, so I’m going to start off here with the rehearsal dinner toast. My wife and I got to meet Kathryn after she and Fraser had been dating for a few months. They’d met on a cruise ship of all places! Right away, we knew that Kathryn was different from all of Fraser’s other girlfriends… she was less, well… let’s not go there. Let’s just say that I could tell that Fraser was in love and this girl was special. I do have to confess we were a little disappointed that Kathryn wasn’t in the trades. After all, we already have an electrician and framer in the family… we were looking for a plumber! But despite that major shortcoming, Kathryn is just awesome and we’re so happy she’s marrying our son. I know they will have a very happy life together, so let’s all raise our glasses to Kathryn and Fraser!” (Need more wedding speeches for dads?)

“Hello, everyone, and thank you for coming this evening. My name is Stacy and I am the groom’s mother. I have the honor of giving a toast tonight, so I thought I would tell you a little about how I met my own husband. We were just kids, younger than these two. Sam, my husband, sat behind me in geography class and – maybe this sounds cliche – but he was always bugging me! Pulling my hair, stealing my pencil, throwing paper airplanes at me, typical stuff. Then, all of a sudden, we hit high school and it was just like love. We’ve been together ever since – and we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage in these last 20 years. So, Amanda and Jeremy, pay attention! First: don’t stop dating. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy romantic evenings out. Second: don’t go to sleep angry. Trust me, you guys are going to fight, that’s normal, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. Third: cherish your moments together. You two have such a beautiful relationship and really an amazing foundation for a marriage. I know you’re off to a great start and I wish you every good thing in the world. To Amanda and Jeremy!” (Get more toasts for moms.)

“Hello all, welcome to Rebecca and Steven’s rehearsal dinner. My name is Jennifer. I’m Rebecca’s maid of honor and I’m so happy that you all could be here tonight. Rebecca and Steven have been planning this wedding for quite some time – but I thought I’d share with you how all this planning got started: the engagement. I have to tell you, Steven was so nervous! He had come to me about a month before to run his plans to pop the question by me and I was so touched. It was obvious how much he was in love with my best friend. So, here’s how it went down. Rebecca and Steven had taken a trip to New York City to look for an apartment before they moved there and, while they were there, Steven suggested they do the “typical tourist thing” and go up the Empire State Building. Believe it or not, Rebecca didn’t want to go! She said it would be too cold (this was December, after all) and too crowded. But Steven insisted and finally Rebecca gave in, but you have to know she was pouting a bit! Anyway, they got up there, and as they were going through security, Steven noticed his legs were shaking. He thought he was feeling weak from the altitude… I don’t think so, Steven! So they got outside. Rebecca was shivering and staring out at Central Park way below. Then she heard Steven whisper her name. She turned and he was down on one knee with the ring in hand. Of course she said yes and here we all are today! I am so happy for them and wish them all the best. Let’s raise a toast to Steven and Rebecca!” (Need more maid of honor speeches? Try here.)

Photo credit: kristaguenin on Flickr

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