This is a big speech. It’s not just that you’re up first, but this marks a very definite and emotional line in the sand, where your daughter is moving on to begin a new life and start her own family. Sure, she may have left home some years ago, but the father of the bride speech realises that transition and makes the passing of years and distant memories something that you need to grapple with.
You’re in pole position of all the speakers so it’s a speech that demands acknowledgements, thanks, tributes and welcomes.
You need to do all of this with a huge dollop of creativity, fun, celebration and entertainment, otherwise it’s just going to be one long list of names and thanks.
It’s also an emotional speech in parts, and so it should be, but the more profound bits need to be balanced with some genuine funny thoughts and observations to give it proper balance.
If you can make people laugh they’ll love you for it and listen to everything you’ve got to say, so sprinkle that humour right the way throughout the speech.
Here is a short video with my thoughts and ideas on writing a great father of the bride speech. I’ve expanded on those ideas below to give as much advice, hints and tips on writing a really great speech. Enjoy!
It may seem obvious, but as you’re the first one up you need to do the welcoming. In fact, you should really be the only one that welcomes, otherwise it’s all going to get a little repetitive.
Good afternoon everyone, my name is Chris, I’m Lucy’s stepfather, and on behalf of my wife Sandra and I, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all here today.
Whilst the star of the show is undoubtedly your daughter, the speech is actually a mega mix of all sorts of people who are, and have been, important in her life. That’s why the structure needs some careful thought.
As mentioned above comedy plays a big part in this speech but you need to make sure it’s genuinely funny, warm an inclusive. The role that the humour plays cannot be overstated enough – it gives the speech balance, and without it, it would become one big wave of emotion, and that would be pretty tough to get through. With genuinely funny lines, observations and memories sprinkled throughout the speech, you can then deliver those more meaningful lines much more easily.
This is a truly special occasion in our family’s history, not just because the celebration of marriage, but also because this means her intimate relationship with my credit card, is now very much at and end.
Very frequently the father of the bride takes this toast, as it frees up more room in the groom speech which enjoys the lion’s share of the formalities.
It is with great sadness that there are some of our friends and family who are not here to celebrate with us today. I know they would have been so proud, are always in our thoughts and are much missed.
You should welcome the groom’s family and friends, and if it feels appropriate make a specific welcome to his parents.
It’s no easy task to talk about exactly what a person means to you, in such an emotionally charged atmosphere, and the father of the bride speech isn’t simply an opportunity to say your daughter looks beautiful. In order for your speech to be a great success, you need to paint a picture of the person she was, the person she is, and what those intervening years have involved.
This part is really determined by the strength of the relationship that you share with him. There are many fathers of the bride who have perfectly great friendships with the groom, and so you can have a little fun here. On the other hand, there are plenty who don’t, so in that case, you need to tread carefully.
The speech should always be given on behalf of you and your wife, this is a joint enterprise and to forget her role in it, would be a terrible mistake.
This should be the last part of the speech where you summarise what a truly special person she is and what a privilege it’s been to be part of her life. When you’re finished, this is the part that the guests will remember, so it needs to be as meaningful, moving and powerful as possible. Originality is vital – avoid all wedding clichés and quotes, and say it your way.
Divorce plays a part in many of the father of the bride speeches I write, and handling it in just the right way can not only make it go smoothly on the day, but also prevent any lingering resentment.
The length is absolutely critical to the success of the father of the bride speech, and the dads normally fall into two camps: those who want to speak for about 3 days, and those who want to speak for about 30 seconds.
Things to remember:
Unlike the Best Man, there is scope to have a little fun here, trading off the fact that fathers and potential suitors often have a fairly tricky relationship. Obviously, you’re not going into granular detail, and avoiding any significant relationships. This is just a bit of fun, if it works for your situation.
You should really only have one toast to make and that at the end to the happy couple. In some cases, the groom will give the absent friends toast to you, and that’s why I’ve included it here, however, don’t be tempted to go any further.
I frequently receive responses from fathers asking why I haven’t included the bridesmaids etc. this is not your job. Please don’t mention how lovely they look because it’s simply using up words for more important things or even worse making you speech unbearably long. The groom takes care of the official helpers, so don’t steal his thunder!
All wedding speeches are potential minefields, and simmering family tensions, divorce and indifferent relationships with the groom can make the father of the bride speech, trickier than most. However, there are a few things you can do to mitigate impending disaster.