father of the bride speech – how to get it just right

So, how can I judge the length of my speech?

Every speech whether it’s political, corporate, a wedding speech or a eulogy, always works much better the more succinct it is. There is no point in talking just for the sake of it, or in the mistaken belief that in order to do justice to the occasion a 30 minute mini lecture is the only answer.

Of course there is the other side of the coin, and there are quite a few of you in this group, who just want to stand up and sit down around 30 seconds later. 

Both camps have got it wrong. You need to be up there long enough so that everyone knows how great you think your daughter is, but not so long they feel they know her favourite English teacher intimately. 

How many minutes?

Very roughly speaking the perfect speech length is about 7 minutes – that is to say an actual talking time of 7 minutes. If you’ve done your job well there should be a few laughs, a few bouts of applause and maybe even one or two heckles, so on the day it will be more like 10 minutes.

If you write a speech that comes in at 10 minutes when you’re reading it at home, that could become 15 minutes on the day, and that’s far too long.

Read it slowly, plenty of pauses and if you hit 7 minutes at home, you’re bang on.

” Deliver your words, not in number, but in weight “

hints and tips to keep in mind


Nothing kills a speech quicker than detail. We know you’re proud of your daughter, but if you go into great detail not only will it bore everyone rigid, it will also ensure a speech of epic proportion.


Keep it to a minimum and check with the groom who is thank whom. Whole chunks of the guests’ lives could be wasted listening to thanking people and nothing is more tedious, and indeed pointless. Thanking the venue? Really?


It can be really useful to split your speech into sections, give them rough word counts, and stick to them. This can help to avoid a casual 800 words on her exam technique.


If there’s one thing that’s really going to kill a speech it’s lots of stories which go on way too long and take you through something that wasn’t that funny in the first place in granular detail. Take only the good bits and use them.


There’s a fine line to tread here between well observed comedy and lines that will come across as mean and uncomfortable. The humour needs to be inclusive, ensure the bride and groom will be laughing just as much as the other guests.

crossing the line

This isn’t the time or the place to prove you’re still one of the boys, and nothing will change the relationship with your daughter than an edgy speech from her dad. Keep it clean and don’t swear, and make everybody laugh not just the guys in the stag weekend.

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