Wedding Speeches – Before or After the meal?

One of the most emotional moments of a wedding day is the speeches; they can be heart-warming and loving, gut-wrenchingly sad or genuinely laugh out loud funny – as a professional magician who has attended hundreds of weddings I’ve heard it all!

But when should the wedding speeches be? Before the meal so that you can get them out of the way or after so that the groom can drink enough to have the confidence to talk in front of the whole wedding party?
Here’s my arguments on both sides of this.

Having the wedding speeches before the meal

By having the speeches as soon as people sit down it means that there is something going on for your guests instantly that is going to grab their attention and avoid the dreaded small talk at the table.

This also means that as soon as the speeches have finished your guests will definitely have something to talk about rather than just repeating about how lucky the couple got with the weather or asking each other how they know the couple etc.

For those people not comfortable with talking in front of people it means that the anticipation of doing the speech goes on for less time and they can just get it done!
This means that they get to enjoy the wedding a bit sooner.

Doing the speeches before the food is brought out also gives the catering team and the staff at the venue a little bit more time to arrange things, especially if there is a room turnaround to do etc but this will very much be venue specific.

Dorset Wedding Magician Chris Piercy performing his mindreading show at Athelhampton House, Dorset

Having magic in front of the whole wedding party is a unique way to give your guests an incredible shared experience

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Wedding speeches after the meal

Tradition states that the Wedding Speeches should be conducted after the meal and they essentially bring an end to the day’s formalities at which point the party side of the day can begin.

By serving the meal first it means your guests are finally being properly fed.
Normally guests will not have had time for eating lunch as they have been getting ready and attending your wedding ceremony, they will have been “kept going” with a few canapes but by the time they’re sitting down the meal at around 4:30pm they are likely to be starving.

At which point they’re going to be asked to sit through up to 45 minutes of speeches before getting anything to eat other than shoving bread rolls in their faces.

Aside from the waiting for food it also means that anyone who has been slightly too liberal during the drink’s reception can eat something and sober themselves up a little rather than plying themselves with more drink at each toast!

It gives the speakers a little bit more time to get some Dutch courage on board!

An Alternative for wedding speeches?

There are 3 courses (normally) at a meal and 3 speeches (normally) – whilst I’m pretty certain this is coincidental you could have one speech after each course.


It is my personal opinion that the speeches should always be after the meal, whilst I have been to lots of weddings where the speeches have been done straight away I always feel it works better afterwards.

The main reason that people tend to do them first is for the benefit of the people speaking especially when they are nervous and whilst public speaking is a very common fear this isn’t a place for it.

You have about the friendliest crowd you could possibly wish for, literally everyone is routing for the people speaking, wanting to hear tales from the past, looking forward to learning more about the couple as well as the bride and the groom as individuals.

Your guests will thoroughly appreciate being fed that little bit earlier and will enjoy the speeches more as a result.

In conclusion you’ve got to do what you feel is right for your day, whether your speeches are before or after the meal is not going to make or break the day but after will make the day flow better.

Another possibility

I don’t personally believe close-up magic during the actual meal itself is the best use of a performer’s time or the couple’s money but more often than not I am booked to perform at the drinks reception.

I will always offer to perform for the start of the wedding breakfast too up until starters are being brought out.

This means that there is an ice breaker at the tables as people are getting seated which solves one of the problems that having the speeches before the meal was solving meaning there’s even more reason to have speeches after the meal now.

I am however able to offer a performance in front of the whole wedding party, either at the beginning or end which will really bring down the house and give everyone a wonderful shared experience of the day.

If you’re interested to find our more either head to my main wedding page or fill in the enquiry form below

If you want to hear a full discussion on this topic then check out this episode of Yes to I Do Podcast.

You can also find more of my advice and wedding supplier interviews on my blog

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