Mother of the bride speech
A good mother of the bride speech is often one of the wedding day highlights, but the mums themselves usually dread the thought of giving a speech.
Let’s start by reassuring you, it’s no longer unusual to have mothers giving a speech. Sometimes mums are asked to say a few words because the bride’s father has passed away. Sometimes they’re asked simply because the bride thinks she’s wonderful and knows she has a lot to say.
Whatever the reason, take comfort in the fact that all the mothers we’ve worked with have enjoyed giving their speech on the day. As ex-BBC scriptwriters we know the tricks of the writing trade so follow our Mum-Speech-Advice and you’ll be able to write a wonderful speech.
*Or let us do the hard work for you. Check out our rather wonderful mother of the bride speech template or find out how one of our team can work with you to craft a truly memorable speech.
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MOTB speech etiquette
This is the bit that gets most mums in a muddle – but relax, your only jobs are 1) to welcome people and 2) make your daughter feel loved!
DON’T GO OVERLY FORMAL – Don’t get tied down with traditional speech etiquette, as long as you’re polite and loving, no one really cares if you address them as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ (in fact it seems overly formal if you do).
DON’T THANK TOO MANY PEOPLE – The biggest trap mothers fall into is thinking they need to thank people. Actually that’s the groom’s job. That said, it pays to mention your daughter’s new-in laws.
DON’T STEAL THE GROOM’S THUNDER – 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 most likely, the best man) so keep it concise if you do!
PREPARE TO BE EMOTIONAL – Of course, if you’re speaking on behalf of a father who’s passed away, then you’ll want to pay a tribute to him. Be careful though; you don’t want to turn your speech into a eulogy. Read our advice on how to pay a heartfelt tribute to the dearly departed while ensuring your speech remains a joyful one. Some excellent tips there to ensure you can handel delivering the speech on the day.
The structure of a mother of the bride speech is the same as a father of the bride speech. Here’s the idea…
- Welcome all the guests and get them laughing straight away
- Tell some funny anecdotes from your daughter’s childhood (ideally illustrating qualities that everyone will recognise in her today)
- Pay tribute to the woman she is today. The good stuff, the lovely stuff, but most importantly, the funny
- 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 although it’s not compulsory)
- You may want to offer some funny or heart-warming advice to the married couple. Nothing too profound or pompous.
- Conclude your speech with a toast to the married couple – traditionally it was to their ‘health and happiness’ but feel free to create something more meaningful to the couple
Tribute to your daughter and son-in-law
TRIBUTE TO YOUR DAUGHTER
This is obviously the heart of the speech but where do you start? How about with a glass of wine and a brainstorm. Rope in other family members if you fancy. Remember you’re the only speaker who gets to tell the childhood stories and divulge the gory secrets of your daughter’s dreaded teenage years!
Get out the old photos and ask yourself lots of questions. What did she love doing as a child? How did she make you laugh? Who was her first teenage crush (always good to compare the groom)? Rather than resorting to clichés about her being a ‘wonderful, funny child’, find the insights and anecdotes that really paint a picture.
Of course as well as the childhood years, talk about the woman your daughter has become. Again, rather than rely on platitudes, think about what makes your daughter unique. Is she a social-media fiend, a tech-head, or a glam girl? Does she love exotic adventures or does she secretly love to knit? Make sure you cherish your daughter exactly for who – even if she is slightly crazy and still addicted to Monster Munch despite being in her thirties.
TRIBUTE TO YOUR SON-IN-LAW
Yes, it’s definitely worth mentioning the groom too! And try to make this more than a few cursory sentences at the end. Think about why the groom is suited to your daughter. What quirks of hers is he good at tolerating? What does he now help her with? What guilty pleasures do they share?
Also, have a think about how you two have bonded. What do you like about the groom? Again try to make this tribute to him filled with honest insights (without alluding to any reservation you may or may not have!)
5 mother of the bride speech tips
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. 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 was that easy) but rather making witty observations about your daughter and her relationships with her family and the groom. Imagine your daughter in a sit-com – what sort of character would she play? The high-powered business woman who can’t work the remote control? The fitness fanatic who jogs when she eats? Have fun with her character.
Rule 3 Tell a story
Create a narrative so your speech doesn’t just sound like a collection of random anecdotes and ‘to dos’. 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 then gave the happy couple a standing ovation.
Rule 4 Less in More
A mother of the bride speech should be about six minutes long (eight allowing for laughter and ad libs) if you’re standing in for the father of the bride. If you’re both giving a speech then you shouldn’t go over five minutes each. Remember no one has ever listened to a wedding speech and said ‘if only it was longer’. Once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. We promise it will make it 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). Talk slower than feels natural – it will make you seem assured even if you’re feeling nervous. Even if you’re reading from notes – try to maintain eye contact with the guests and your daughter. Also, remember to smile. It’s scientifically proven to be infectious and those scientists know stuff.
Mother of the Bride Speech - Do's and Don'ts
Start writing your speech – Obvious but honestly, ideas will keep popping into your head once you start.
Get help – Other family members are a great source of good material. Organise a catch up and think about all the funny things your daughter has done over the years.
Feel free to use clever quotes – Ensure you credit the author or someone else will!
Toast something meaningful – Ideally it should reflect the personality of the newlyweds and the theme of your speech. One of the fathers 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 and spot where your speech can be improved.
Hint at any financial contribution you’ve made towards the wedding – May embarrass the newlyweds and it’s up to them to mention it.
Talk about your daughter’s exes – Again, that embarrassment thing. Even if you know your daughter would be cool with it, her husband may not be.
Resort to cliches – Really? You want to waste crucial time telling us how little she slept as a newborn?
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.
Be afraid to use cue cards – Try to memorise the speech but don’t be afraid to use notes on the day (your brain will be scrambled).
Don’t take credit for other people’s words – But it’s fine to use some clever quotes if you credit the author. Here’s some Inspiration.
A Bit About Speechy...
The Speechy team includes Heidi, Roger, James and Claire. Between us, we’ve been included in the Edinburgh TV Festival’s ‘Ones to Watch’ and featured in the BBC Hotlist. During our telly careers, we’ve worked with people such as Christine Bleakley, Richard Hammond, Sharon Osbourne, Dan Snow, David Mitchell and Mel Geidroyc. Get us!
These days we’re the go-to experts for wedding speech advice – featuring in wedding bibles such as Rock n Roll Bride or Wedding Ideas Mag, or more mainstream media such as Radio 1 and Radio 2. Even Eamonn Holmes has wanted our advice on how to deliver a speech at his son’s wedding when we were on his show recently.
Of course, we love helping people write amazing speeches and we still get excited when they tell us we’ve added a special moment to their day.