A Father of the Bride speech is pretty tough – it has just as much pressure on it as the groom and the best man but with plenty of procedural requirements and little opportunity for creative flair, it’s a tough one to get right. So to help you with writing a great father of the bride speech that is remembered for the right reasons, here are my tips to make sure your speech hits the mark.
General lay out
Traditionally the Father of the Bride is the host of the evening. This goes back to the days of dowry’s and whether you’ve assisted to finance the wedding or not you are generally the first to speak. Don’t be daunted – as first speaker you have a ripe and eager audience that’s not too boozed yet!
As the host you should introduce yourself, welcome all guests to the event, acknowledge any guests that have made any particular effort to be here today (ask the couple if they have any notable mentions) and if there is no MC you may be asked to do some ‘housekeeping’ announcements, such as rules on the bar tab, fire exits, timings etc.
You should then talk a little about the day and what it means to you and tell a story or two about your daughter. I’ll talk more about what stories and how to choose them later but this part should be short, sweet and relevant to the day – no past boyfriends to be mentioned here!
Next you will welcome your new son-in-law to the family and perhaps include an anecdote about him and his suitability for your daughter or family.
You may then offer wishes to the couple and their future as a married couple. This may come in the form of advice for the couple, or your thoughts on why you think they are great for each other or what you wish for them into the future.
Finally, wrap up with a toast and well wishes. All in all, the father of the bride speech should be no more than five minutes for a less confident speaker and no more than 8 minutes for a strong speaker with relevant anecdotes – I’m sorry to say, you are not the star of the show tonight.
How to choose your stories
You know your daughter better than almost anyone – how do you scan through a lifetime of events and stories and choose something relevant to the occasion for your speech?
A key pitfall I see in father of the bride speeches is that they really do scan through a whole lifetime of events – as soon as I hear ‘when Jessica was two…’ you lose your audience. In choosing stories to relay they must be relevant to marriage, commitment, partnership and love. Generally, we won’t see these characteristics until they are late teens/university age. Ask yourself – does this idea or story link back to the purpose of the day – which is to celebrate the new married couple?
Don’t include anything that will embarrass your daughter – anything about her being drunk, naked, or past boyfriends are strict no-nos – and if you have to ask your wife if its ok, it’s probably not.
In talking about your new son-in-law a gentle ribbing is ok – you might talk about how you first met him and your first impressions of him, or the moment you knew he was the one for your daughter. In choosing stories about the groom make sure you can finish these up on a positive, gentle note to link back to his suitability as your precious daughters’ husband. Don’t take it too far here or it will just get awkward.
Keep it short
I hate to say it, but fathers of the bride are some of the greatest risks for the wedding speech rant. As mentioned above, the ideal time for a father of the bride speech is 3-5 minutes for a less confident speaker or 5-8 minutes for a strong speaker with relevant anecdotes. Remember there are generally at least 5 other speakers on the night and there is a schedule for eating and events – if everyone goes over time it really makes for a slow night and that is not what your daughter spent months planning. Be respectful, pocket the hubris and prepare and practice your speech in advance so you stick to the script.
Practice practice practice.
Did I mention that you should practice your speech? Have a look at my blog ‘how to rehearse your speech’ for full tips on what to practice. In the meantime here are my tips just for fathers:
- Practice out loud – reading it to yourself is not the same as actually voicing the speech.
- Where is the microphone? It is more than likely you will have a microphone on the night. Practice with a brush and learn to be conscious of where the mic is while you speak and move around – this is the biggest area of concern I see for fathers. If we can’t hear you, we can’t hear how awesome you are.
- Pace and volume – speak slowly, clearly and do not mumble. Remember you will speak faster on the night when you are nervous so practice slow and take some deep breaths before you start to slow it down. Pause for applause, take your time, you have prepared so enjoy the moment.
- Write it down – do not wing your speech!! And if you are going to do bullet points on cards make sure you know exactly where they are going to avoid a long waffle. Stick to the script and you will all enjoy the occasion.
And of course if all this seems like way too much to think about please get in touch and I can help you create a great father of the bride speech.