So your daughter is about to flee the nest. The date is set and the venue booked. You’ve been tapped for a hefty contribution towards the planning of the day. You’re keeping lips sealed about the cost of roses versus peonies, Champagne versus Prosecco, starters versus canapés, the necessities of wedding favours, embossed invitations and petals strewn on tables. You couldn’t be more supportive of your daughter’s choice of husband and you’ve been charming to her new in-laws. You really are the perfect father of the bride. But are you? Have you given enough thought to your most important responsibility? Your father of the bride speech.

Father of the bride speech at wedding

The speeches will be remembered when the food, flowers and invitations are forgotten, so it’s essential you get yours right. This is your opportunity to tell your daughter and others how proud you are of her, without coming across as too gushing, smug or sentimental. Here are some tips to achieve the right balance.

Don’t Turn Your Speech Into a Job Application or CV

Yes, it’s fine to mention some of your daughter’s achievements, but weave these around the speech rather than listing facts and figures, grades and graduations, in a chronological order.

Minimise the Gush

Father of the bride speeches have a reputation for being a bit sentimental. That’s ok up to a point, but too much and it starts to sound sycophantic and dull. It’s fine to tell the guests how proud you are of her, but try to pepper the gush with some lighter teasing to balance it up.

Ask Around

Ask your daughter’s friends for stories from school, college or work, your other children for their version of events from the early years, her fiancé about his first impressions of her, and your wife for any memorable stories, to get good, mixed content.

Consult the Other Speakers

Your biggest risk is covering ground that others will repeat later on in their speeches. I would recommend that, however original you think your speech may be, you have a quick chat with the groom and best man to ensure there is no frustrating overlap.

Be Nice to Her New Family

This is not the time to offend your daughter’s in-laws! If you’re mentioning your own family, it would be courteous to mention how welcoming the groom’s family have been to your daughter and your extended family. This is also the time to thank them for any contribution they’ve made to the wedding.

Peter Who?

Although your primary purpose is to talk about your daughter, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to mention your new son-in-law. Love him or loathe him, half the guests are there for him, and they’ll be wanting to know how happy you are for them both.

Keep It Short

The father of the bride speech is the first up, so don’t let it drag on too long. Make sure it’s no more than 10 minutes (timed when speaking slowly), which on paper is about 1,000 words.

It’s Not All About You

It may be tempting to focus your speech solely on your own relationship with your daughter, or indeed your own marriage by reminiscing back to your own wedding, but don’t be too self-centred. This is not your chance to boast about your own relationships!

Factoring in these tips should help you create a cracking father of the bride speech and ensure you have a proud and happy daughter at the end of it.

Guest post by Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing

Image from Mark Dolby Photography