Father of the Bride Speech
Father of the Bride Speech Advice
The father of the bride speech is one of the wedding’s highlights but entertaining a room full of people and summing up a lifetime of love is no mean feat. No wonder so many dads resort to platitudes, cliches and cheesy old wedding gags.
As professional TV scriptwriters & comedians, the Speechy team know how to entertain an audience, and as parents ourselves, we understand why this speech matters. Here’s all you need to know about writing & delivering an amazing speech.
Or, work with our new AI-powered team member –SpeechyAI!
Father of the Bride Speech Etiquette
1 - 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/daughter-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).
2 - Who should the father of the bride thank?
The biggest trap fathers fall into is thinking they need to thank people. Actually, that’s the newlywed’s job.
Do NOT get sucked into individually namechecking 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/bride (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 welcome them to your family. You could say that you ‘look forward to spending many more special moments with them in the years ahead.’
3 - How should the father of the bride pay tribute to the mother of the bride?
Even if you’re separated, you should acknowledge the role the bride’s mother has had in her upbringing. A wedding is no time to harbour any grudges.
If you are still happily married to the mother of the bride, this is an opportunity to earn yourself some brownie points. Pay a tribute her & the positive influence she has had on both your daughter and your good self! On a poignant note, you can explain that she is the person who taught you the value of marriage and how it impacts every element of your life. You may also want to thank her for agreeing to tolerate you for so long.
If your daughter’s mother has passed away, you’ll want to pay a significant tribute to her within the speech. By significant, we mean meaningful as opposed to lengthy.
It may be worth discussing with your daughter & her partner how they plan to acknowledge her absence, so you’re both both on the same page and are prepared for the emotion on the day. We’ve written a great blog on how to pay tribute to the dearly departed that might be worth you all checking out.
4 - Should the father of the bride mention absent friends & the dearly departed?
There’s really no point mentioning those who couldn’t attend the special day – unless you have a special message from a much loved grandparent or close friends of the bride are actively watching the wedding online.
When it comes to paying tribute to loved ones who have passed away – maybe your daughter’s grandparents, for example – try to pay tribute to them with a smile and with more than a platitude. Sure, they may have been proud of the woman she’s become but would they also have been the first on the dancefloor, calling out for some ABBA and Lionel Richie?
There’s no need to stop and ask everyone to join you in an official ‘toast to the dearly departed’ unless a close family member has recently died and the emotion is still raw. Remember, the newlyweds may be proposing a similar toast themselves.
5 - Who should the father of the bride toast at the end of the speech?
A father should conclude his speech by asking the guests to join him in a toast to the happy couple. The toast itself needs to be succinct enough to propose it and people to second it. It’s essentially a contract, so be concise.
- ‘Please join me in a toast and raise your glasses to (couple’s names). May their marriage be filled with love and laughter. To the happy couple.’
Classic toasts include…
- “May thy life be long and happy,
Thy cares and sorrows few;
And the many friends around thee
Prove faithful, fond and true.”
But there’s plenty of funny toasts to consider too…
- ‘Before we raise a glass to the newlyweds, I’d like to share a Pauline Thomason quote with you: ‘Love is blind – marriage is the eye-opener.’ To the happy couple!’
Finally, we love it when a father’s toast is really personal and could only ever be directed at the couple in question. Here’s examples of strong father of the bride toasts…
“To my beautiful daughter and her new partner in crime, let’s raise our glasses to love, laughter, and the hope that he can now find the kitchen without a GPS. Cheers!”
“As I stand here, proud and slightly bewildered that my little girl is all grown up, let’s toast to a lifetime of love, joy, and my new role as the guy who has to keep a straight face during wedding dances. Cheers to the newlyweds!”
“To my daughter and her charming husband, may your marriage be as strong as my coffee and as enduring as my collection of dad jokes. Here’s to laughter, love, and the wisdom to nod and smile when you don’t understand each other. Cheers!”
“As a father, I’ve learned that giving away my daughter is much like trying to fold a fitted sheet – challenging but ultimately rewarding. To the happy couple, may your days be as bright as my jokes are cheesy and your love as unbreakable as my attempts at assembling IKEA furniture. Cheers!”
“To the bride and groom, thank you for officially making me the father-in-law, a title that comes with new responsibilities, like pretending not to notice when you accidentally leave the toilet seat up. May your marriage be filled with as much joy as the day she discovered how to ride a bike and as much laughter as the first time you met my extensive list of rules. Cheers!”
Our SpeechyAI is great at crafting truly unique toasts for dads to deliver on the special day!
How to Write & Deliver Your Father of the Bride Speech
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.
- Welcome all the guests and get them laughing straight away
- Tell some funny anecdotes from your daughter’s childhood (ideally illustrating her personality today). Remember a loving tribute also involves taking the mick!
- Pay tribute to the woman she now is — the good stuff, the lovely stuff, but most importantly, the funny stuff
- 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)
- You may want to offer some funny or heart-warming advice to the married couple
- 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.
As the first speaker, it’s your job to welcome everyone to this special day.
If it’s a large wedding, start by introducing yourself and try to get a laugh in early.
Examples of father of the bride opening lines;
- Introduce yourself, not only as the father of the bride, but as her “odd job man, taxi service and financial advisor for the last 30 years. And today, it’s time to pass the baton on… What can I say (groom), it’s not a well paid job but you’ll never be bored, that’s for sure.'”
- “Hello, everyone! They say a father’s job is never done, and today, I’m officially adding ‘giving away my daughter’ to the list of things I never thought I’d have to do… willingly!”
- “Good evening, everyone! Today is a day of celebration, love, and for me, a subtle victory. I managed to raise [daughter’s name] to adulthood without completely losing my sanity. Cheers to that!”
- “Greetings, Earthlings! Today, I stand before you as the proud father of the bride, a title that comes with responsibilities like making embarrassing speeches and perfecting the ‘dad dance.’ Brace yourselves; I’m here to deliver on both fronts.”
Your speech should be more than just a list of compliments, thank yous and random anecdotes. Instead, it needs to have a narrative. It 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 self-confessed bridezilla.
He went on to express his joy in meeting her groom and toasted their future with ‘a standing ovation’.
If you’re still waiting for ‘divine inspiration’ to hit and are struggling to come up with your speech theme, then get in touch with the Speechy wordsmiths. Our Bespoke Speech Service could be for you.
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, so don’t turn your daughter into a perfect princess. Whether she’s ditsy, incredibly loud, or obsessed with true-crime boxsets, people love her the way she is, and this is your chance to celebrate that.
Whether you love them or simply tolerate them, your daughter’s choice of partner needs more than a few cursory compliments.
Provide an anecdote about your time together and share what you’ve bonded over – even if it is just a mutual frustration at your daughter’s habit of stealing other people’s food!
Your closing paragraph should summarise the point of your speech.
It’s basic journalism; the speech should start by explaining what you’re going to tell people, you then tell the story, and conclude by telling everyone what you’ve told them.
A professional comedy technique is to include a ‘call-back’ in that summary. That’s where you plant a story or a piece of info at the start of the speech, possibly as a throwaway line, and then reference it later on.
An example might be, a father who starts his speech with a story about his daughter as a toddler and the time she caused a scene when she wasn’t allowed a second ice-cream.
1,000 words later, he wishes the couple a happy life together but reminds his new son/daughter-in-law to ‘always buy her that second ice cream’.
A ‘call back’ is simple, but incredibly effective. It always makes you look cleverer than you actually are!
You’re aiming for between six and nine minutes for a father of the bride speech (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.
The ideal length is between 1,000 and 1,200 generally.
Anything over 1,300 words is too long. If you find yourself with more – pick out content that you can drop from the speech to put into a letter for your daughter to read in private, maybe on the morning of the wedding. It provides an extra level of intimacy and connection on the day, and can obviously be kept as a keepsake too.
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.
- Have a snack – An empty stomach isn’t good for nerves. It may be the last thing you fancy but stuff a handful of canapes down or have a Mars bar on hand.
- Don’t drink alcohol – Studies have shown even one glass of alcohol can reduce your public speaking skills.
- Drink water – A glass of water a few minutes prior to speaking will ensure you don’t dry up.
- Look for friendly faces in the audience – And at different points of the room.
ON THE MIC CHECKLIST
- Stand up, breathe deep and smile.
- Remember your presenting principles.
- Laugh along – Sometimes people need the visual cue that what you’ve said is funny. (I know, people are idiots). And, as we know, laughter is infectious so make sure you exploit it!
- If you’re being filmed – see the camera as an extra friend. It works really well when you come to watch it back.
- Be prepared for audience interaction. It’s unlikely you’ll get hecklers but some people like to ‘get involved’. It’s good to have a few witty responses in your back pocket. For example… ‘And that’s why the free bar ends after the first drink…’
Add Humour to Your Father of the Bride Speech
All speeches should be funny. No one’s expecting a stand-up routine but try to get everyone chuckling within the first 20 secs. It relaxes everyone, including you.
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 her partner.
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.
It might seem obvious that your wedding speech needs a good story in it but a lot of wedding speeches don’t.
Neuroscientists have discovered that our brains light up when we hear stories. It seems humans are programmed to be empathic; we’re literally designed to be curious about other people.
Finding cracking anecdotes (short stories) is a crucial part of creating a great speech. A story doesn’t need to be long. It doesn’t need to be extraordinary. It just has to reveal something about your daughter and what makes her so darn wonderful.
Think back to…
- How she used to make you laugh as a toddler
- Her naughtiest behaviour
- Her weirdest habits
- Her first crush
- Her guilty pleasures
Once you start asking yourself the right sorts of questions, you’ll find you have plenty to play with.
Gather the family together and brainstorm anecdotes.
Get up in the attic and pull the old photo albums out.
Sometimes the best stories are lucking where you least expect them.
Speechy’s favourite brand of comedy is based on observation. It’s also the easiest to master.
Comedians have a skilled eye when it comes to noticing the strange things in life that we take for granted but it’s often just about taking the time to look.
Everyone in this world is weird in their very own way, so take time to look at your daughter through a new lens. Notice all her little quirks and eccentricities.
Does she like her food with spicy sauce on everything – even salad? Does she still secretly listen to Justin Bieber? Can she eat a whole bag of Doritos in one sitting?
Those specific little observations will show you truly ‘get her’ as well as making people laugh.
Check out some father of the bride speech videos we’ve collated to see how some other dads do it.
Of course, if all this advice has done nothing but convince you, you need help – then jump straight to all the different ways the Speechy team can help you, including SpeechyAI; a genius tool we’ve built that’s guaranteed to help you develop unique and hilarious lines.
Start writing your speech
Obvious but honestly, ideas will keep popping into your head once you start.
Cut your speech in half
When you’ve written your first draft, edit it by 50% and we guarantee it will be better as a result. As Ernest Hemingway said, ‘The first draft of anything is s*&t’ and any speech is better when it’s punchy!
Use clever quotes
Ensure you credit the author or someone else will! Check out our Father of the Bride Quote Inspiration Guide.
Practise and watch it back on your phone
Watch it back, promise yourself you’ll do something about your paunch and spot where your speech can be improved.
Don't hint at any financial contribution you've made to 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 clichés
Really? You want to waste time telling us how little she slept as a newborn?
Father of the Bride Speech - let us help you!
Work with us if you want to deliver a speech your daughter will be proud of. We really are blooming good at this and rated ‘excellent’ on Trustpilot.
That’s why we offer a DELIGHT GUARANTEE on all our bespoke services.
And, of course, in the world of Zoom, Whatsapp and Death Wish Coffee, we work with fathers of the bride around the world.