Father of the Bride
Your Father of the Bride Speech
The father of the bride speech is one of the wedding’s highlights but it’s a daunting honour. Entertaining a room full of people and summing up a lifetime of love is no mean feat. No wonder so many poor dads resort to cliches, lame wedding gags and talking about their daughter as a baby (speech tip: all babies are the same; they don’t sleep much and poo a lot).
As BBC trained TV scriptwriters, the Speechy team know how to entertain an audience, and as parents ourselves, we understand why this speech matters. Here’s your guide to writing & delivering a genuinely amazing speech.
(*Of course, if you want more than ‘advice’, check out our father of the bride template, speech edit service or our ‘Excellent’ Trustpilot rated bespoke speech writing service. Yes, we can do the hard work for you!)
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-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).
Don't steal the Groom's thunder
- The biggest trap fathers fall into is thinking they need to thank people. Actually, that’s the groom’s job.
- 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 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 even if you’re separated, you should acknowledge the role the bride’s mother has had in her upbringing.
The full low-down
Father of the Bride Speech Structure
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.
Five speech rules
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. Indeed, don’t turn your daughter into a perfect princess. 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 make people laugh.
Of course, 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 the groom.
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.
Your speech needs to be more than just a list of compliments, thank yous and random anecdotes. Instead, it needs to have a narrative.
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 went on to express his joy in meeting her groom and toasted their future with a standing ovation.
You’re aiming for six minutes for a father of the bride speech (eight 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.
Even Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only 272 words long!
Our best advice is once you write your first draft, edit it down to half the length. We promise it will make your speech a hundred times stronger.
There are lots of online sites that can estimate the length of your speech based on your wordcount.
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.
Read our Speech Delivery Guide and present your speech like a pro.
Start writing your speech
Obvious but honestly, ideas will keep popping into your head once you start.
Exploit the family. Organise a catch-up and think about all the funny things your daughter has done over the years. Feel free to mention the ‘family summit’ in the speech.
Use clever quotes
Toast something meaningful
Ideally, 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’.
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?
Don't ignore your wife's feedback
It’s always worth testing your speech out on your wife, but the important bit is, listen to her. If she doesn’t get a joke, don’t waste your time explaining it as you won’t be able to do that for guests on the day.
Don't talk over laughter
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.