The father of the bride is the opening act. He’s the wedding’s warm up man. The person in charge of making everyone feel welcome and his daughter feel special. The father of the bride speech is, in essence, important.
You have the power to get everyone in the room laughing and kick start the newlyweds union with a bang, or equally, bore everyone to tears with tales of your daughter’s flute playing skills in primary school.
Of course there’s lots of traps that fathers of the bride fall victim to…
Father of the bride speech – Common mistakes
- Reading etiquette books – waste of time and can turn a good speech into something boring
- Leaving the humour to the best man – you need to be funny too
- Thinking you need to thank everyone – actually that’s the groom’s job
- Recounting your daughter’s life story – there’s no need for potty training stories
- Suggesting you’ve contributed to the cost of the wedding – there’s no need to tell
- Forgetting size matters – no longer than ten minutes max
- Resorting to templates, clichés or alcohol
That’s why we think fathers of the bride deserve a bit of professional help. Here’s our Speechy Guide…
Father of the bride speech – traditional structure
- Welcome all the guests and warm them up with some humour
- Talk about how proud you are of your daughter and recount some funny anecdotes of her childhood (ideally illustrating qualities that everyone will recognise)
- Now talk about the woman she is today (remember this should still contain an element of humour as well as genuine emotion)
- Recount your joy (possibly fear) of meeting her husband for the first time and how you have grown to love him and his family
- Offer some comedy or heart-warming advice for the newly married couple. Nothing too profound or it just becomes awkward
- Raise a toast to the married couple. Traditionally it’s to the ‘health and happiness of the happy couple’ but we prefer to make the toast a bit more unique.
Father of the bride – Advice
Heart-warming not soppy
A father of the bride speech wants to leave everyone with a warm glow. It’s allowed a certain level of sentimentality but don’t go too soppy or profound on us (leave that for the drive to the church).
Certainly don’t recount your daughter’s achievements at school or the terrible procession of exes she brought home. Both are boring and clichéd.
Instead think about the qualities that make your daughter unique and find the funny anecdotes that truly illustrate her personality. Don’t turn your daughter into a perfect princess, the guests want to recognise the person you’re talking about. Whether she’s ditsy, gobby, obsessed with fake tan, people love her the way she is and it’s your chance to celebrate that.
Yes the expectation may be on the best man but all wedding speeches should be funny, ideally from the get-go.
And when it comes to wedding speeches, being funny isn’t about jokes (certainly not any you’d find on a speech template). Instead it’s about insightful and witty observations.
Look at the characters you’re talking about (your daughter, the groom, even perhaps, yourself). Stretch their personalities to the extreme and imagine them as a sitcom character. Are they the Basil Fawlty of engineering? The Miranda of Milton Keynes? The Victor Meldrew of this wedding? Once you’ve created a persona, the stories and the comedy should flow.
Make all the guests feel welcome but don’t get sucked into to namechecking special friends, guests who have travelled a long way or a long list of individuals. It becomes tedious, especially if you’re one of the guests who doesn’t get a mention!
There are, of course, some important people you do have to namecheck. The focus of your speech is obviously your daughter but make sure a significant portion of your speech is devoted to your happiness in getting to know the groom and his family. Try to make this sincere by making it personal as opposed to ‘cut and paste’ platitudes.
Also – very important! – don’t forget to acknowledge the contribution the mother of the bride has made to your daughter’s life, whether or not you remain married!
Remember size matters
Seriously, no longer than ten minutes max. Eight minutes is what you’re aiming for. It’s long enough to be meaningful but short enough to remain punchy.
The Gettysburg address was only ten sentences long. No matter how great you think your material is you don’t need to be longer than Lincoln.
Editing your speech is one of the most important stages of writing it. You may feel you have so much you want to say but the real test is saying it in the least amount of words. It’s kind of like a perverse game of Scrabble.
The father of the bride traditionally toasts to the ‘health and happiness of the happy couple’ but we think it deserves to be a bit more interesting. 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’.
How to deliver the speech
You know why Stephen Fry seems so eloquent when he’s hosting the BAFTAs? It’s because he’s reading. Yes it might be an autocue but we’re guessing you can’t afford one of those. Little bits of card you can fit in your pocket will do nicely.
Certainly try to memorise your speech but have it there as back up. Feel free to look at it regularly but try to maintain eye contact with the guests. Smile. Add pauses. Ad lib
Finally, if you’re nervous on the day, feel free to have a drink but no more than two.
Consider getting the professions in
Yep that’s us. The Speechy team are made up of renegade TV scriptwriters who are now on a mission to make wedding speeches better. We’ve written for audiences of up to six million people so we can handle the biggest of marquees.
Of course you can just call us on 07971 225 245 and see if you like the sound of us.
Other helpful father of the bride links
Tips from a Wedding Co-ordinator (she’s seen a fair few speeches and watched the guests reaction to them)
Examples of other Father of the Bride speeches (but remember not to steal and, with our help, you can do a lot better!!)
FOTB cufflinks (nothing to do with your speech but we kind of like them!)