Your Father of the Bride Speech

The father of the bride speech is one of the wedding’s highlights, but it’s a daunting honour. Entertaining a room full of people and summing up a lifetime of love is no mean feat. No wonder so many poor dads resort to cliches, lame wedding gags and talking about their daughter as a baby (speech tip: all babies are the same; they don’t sleep much and poo a lot).

As ex-BBC scriptwriters, the Speechy team know how to entertain an audience, and as parents ourselves, we understand why this speech matters. We’ve written this guide so you know the speech mistakes to avoid, and how you can transform your speech into something a little less ordinary.

Of course, if you want more than ‘advice’, check out our father of the bride template or bespoke speech writing service. Yes, we can do the hard work for you!

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Father of the Bride Speech Etiquette

THE FIRST RULE – Don’t get tied down with traditional speech etiquette. Your job is simply to welcome the guests, pay a heartfelt tribute to your daughter and welcome your son-in-law to the family. Don’t feel you need to go ‘posh’. As long as you’re polite and loving, no one cares if you address them as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ (in fact it may seem overly formal).

DON’T STEAL THE GROOM’S THUNDER – The biggest trap fathers fall into is thinking they need to thank people. Actually, that’s the groom’s job. Do NOT get sucked into thanking your friends or family members who’ve travelled far. It’s not your day and, quite frankly, too many thank yous becomes boring. Remember the bridesmaids will be thanked by the groom (and maybe even the best man) so keep your gratitude succinct (and dance with them later).
That said, it pays to mention your daughter’s new in-laws and even if you’re separated, you should acknowledge the role the bride’s mother has had in her upbringing.

THE FULL LOW-DOWN – If you want to get a sense of what’s being covered by the other speakers, read our Ultimate Etiquette Guide on Confetti

Father of the Bride Speech Structure

All speeches should be unique and tailored to your daughter’s individual story. However, it’s still worth knowing the standard structure of a father of the bride speech.

  1. Welcome all the guests and get them laughing straight away
  2. Tell some funny anecdotes from your daughter’s childhood (ideally illustrating her personality today). Remember a loving tribute also involves taking the mick!
  3. Pay tribute to the woman she now is — the good stuff, the lovely stuff, but most importantly, the funny stuff. 
  4. Recount meeting the groom for the first time and how you’ve grown to love him and his family (it helps if there’s an element of truth in there)
  5. You may want to offer some funny or heart-warming advice to the married couple.
  6. Conclude your speech with a toast to the married couple. Traditionally it’s to the health and happiness of the happy couple’ but make it a bit more interesting than that – something that genuinely reflects the character of the couple and echos the themes of your speech.

Five Father of the Bride Speech Rules

Rule 1: Be Different

A heart-warming tribute to your daughter should be the focus of your speech but remember every bride is beautiful, kind and generally amaaazing.  Cut the cliches and concentrate on what makes your daughter unique. Is she an indie chick, a library-lover, a technology fiend? Nailing her individual and quirky characteristics is key to delivering a great speech. Indeed, don’t turn your daughter into a perfect princess. Whether she’s ditsy, gobby, obsessed with fake tan, people love her the way she is, and it’s your chance to celebrate that.

Rule 2: Be Funny

Yes, the expectation may be on the best man, but all wedding speeches should make people laugh. Of course, being funny isn’t about finding good jokes on the internet (if only it were that easy) but instead making witty observations about your daughter and her relationships with her family and the groom. A good tip is to imagine her in a sit-com – what sort of character would she play? The high-powered career woman who can’t work the remote control? The fitness fanatic who jogs as she eats her toast? Have fun with her character.

Rule 3: Tell a Story

Your speech needs to hook people in from the beginning, establish a theme and carry that through to an almighty climax. One of the fathers we worked with used the wedding venue as the inspiration for his theme. As his daughter was getting married in a theatre, he recounted her ‘best dramatic performances’ – from the toddler tantrums to becoming a bridezilla. He went on to express his joy in meeting her groom and toasted their future with a standing ovation.

Rule 4: Less is More

You’re aiming for six minutes for a father of the bride speech (eight allowing for laughter and ad-libs). Remember no one ever witnessed a wedding speech and said ‘if only it were longer’. Even if you feel you have a wealth of good material – be strict with yourself. Even Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long! Our best advice is once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. We promise it will make your speech a hundred times stronger.

Rule 5: Prepare to Deliver

A confident delivery is half the battle. Make sure your daughter has checked the acoustics of the venue and organised a mic if necessary (so many speeches are ruined simply because people can’t hear them). Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled). Talk slower than feels natural – you’ll sound more assured. Remember everyone wants you to do well so make sure you smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious.

Speech Do's

Start writing your speech – Obvious but honestly, ideas will keep popping into your head once you start.

Get help – Exploit the family. Organise a catch-up and think about all the funny things your daughter has done over the years. Feel free to mention the ‘family summit’ in the speech.

Use clever quotes – Ensure you credit the author or someone else will! Check out our Quote Inspiration guide.

Toast something meaningful – Ideally, it should reflect the personality of the newlyweds and the theme of your speech. One of the fathers of the bride we worked with wished his daughter and her husband ‘the passion of Burton and Taylor, the longevity of Elizabeth and Philip and the bank balance of Kanye and Kim’.

Practise your speech and film it on your phone – Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your paunch and spot where your speech can be improved.

Speech Don'ts

Don’t hint at any financial contribution you’ve made towards the wedding – Yes it seems dads are still paying a fair whack for their offspring getting hitched (check out the average parent contribution) but that’s no excuse for moaning about it publicly.

Don’t talk about your daughter’s exes – Again, that embarrassment thing. Even if you know your daughter would be cool with it, her husband might not be.

Don’t resort to cliches – Really? You want to waste time telling us how little she slept as a newborn?

Don’t ignore the feedback of your wife – It’s always worth testing your speech out on your wife, but the important bit is, listen to her. If she doesn’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that on the day.

Don’t talk over laughter – You’ve worked hard for those laughs – don’t rush them. Always wait until your guests have settled down before continuing with your speech.

Happy Customers

Loved the final speech. Really told a story.
If Carlsberg made wedding speeches! My daughter was so proud.
Its made a lifelong memory.
In the end I couldn't wait to get up and deliver the speech.
My speech became a wedding highlight - everyone loved it.
I got the belly laughs without resorting to the usual wedding jokes.
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