Who Gives a Toast at the Rehearsal Dinner?

by Stephanie Hallett

It’s the night before your wedding and you’re sitting down for one last meal with your nearest and dearest before the big day. You already know that a rehearsal dinner can be casual or formal, a dinner, lunch, or even breakfast, and that it’s a chance for you to give thank-you gifts to the members of your wedding party and spend more intimate time with your loved ones. But do you know who’s allowed to give a toast? The short answer is, basically everyone.

The list of toasts to be given at your wedding should be short—you don’t want to cut into that dance floor time! — not to mention the toasts themselves should be kept to a maximum time of three minutes. But the rehearsal dinner offers a chance for anyone to speak and share a story, since the setting is more relaxed. Here’s a list of possible rehearsal dinner speakers — consider it, and revise according to your own needs and desires.

Fathers of the bride and groom

Traditionally, the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal dinner—though this is becoming less and less common—so the groom’s father would be first to speak, followed by the bride’s father. These days, though, nearly half of couples are paying for their own wedding events so none of these rules may apply. If you want to follow tradition, you can ask the groom’s father (if there is a groom!) to kick off the toasts, then open the floor to others.

Mothers of the bride and groom

Again, according to tradition, once the fathers have spoken, the floor is opened up to the mothers of the marrying couple. However, this tradition is easily read as sexist, so feel free to ask your parents to speak in any order that pleases you. Moms should certainly be given the opportunity to toast you at some point, though.

Aunts, uncles, and other family members

The typical rehearsal dinner guest list includes immediate family members, the wedding party, and sometimes, the officiant is also in attendance. At modern parties, though, other close friends and family members are often invited, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since these loved ones might not be on your list of wedding-day speech-givers, the rehearsal dinner is the perfect time to have them speak about you and your relationship.


It’s fine to keep your rehearsal dinner guest list small. But many couples choose to invite their friends, too—or even open it up to all their guests. If that’s the case for you, you may want to open up the floor to your pals for funny toasts—and roasts!

Out-of-town guests

Since the actual day of your wedding is sure to be busy, many couples choose to invite their out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner. These are probably people you don’t get to see very often, so spending quality time with them before the wedding is very special. Asking these guests to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner can be especially sweet, since these may be people who have known you for a long time.

Wedding officiant

If your officiant has been a part of your life for many years, it can be nice to have the person who will legally bind you in marriage speak at your rehearsal dinner about the importance and meaning of commitment.

Open mic

You may be fortunate enough to have many family members and friends who want to speak on your behalf. If that’s the case, and you have the time, you may want to open the floor to anyone who wants to say a few words. Ask that they keep things brief (tell a short anecdote, etc.)—you may be surprised (and delighted) by what you hear!