So, your little girl has found the love of her life. Maybe you couldn’t be happier. Maybe you feel like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride. Either way, you’re expected to say a few words on her wedding day.
Are you ready?
If the answer is “not a chance,” don’t sweat it. A father of the bride (FOB) speech doesn’t have to be scary! Here are some tips to help you master the speech and make your daughter’s day.
Know the Tone
Before you write a single word, it’s important to understand the tone of your speech. As the father of the bride, you should have two objectives: express the love you have for your daughter and welcome her spouse into the family. Every word of your speech should contribute to one of those two objectives.
In your FOB speech, you have an opportunity to share your perspective on the bride, the couple, and marriage in general. It’s important that your words are sincere and reflective of your feelings on what’s sure to be an emotional day.
Take some time to figure out what you want to say — not just to the other guests, but to your daughter and her new spouse. Do you want to share your favorite memories of the bride? Do you have sage advice for navigating married life? Do you want to express your pride in how the couple has grown together over time? If you have a clear idea of the tone from the first word, crafting a clear and memorable speech will be much easier.
Avoid Cringeworthy Comments
If you were ever the best man at a buddy’s wedding, you probably remember the process of having to write another kind of speech — one that entailed compiling the funniest, most embarrassing stories you could think of. This kind of speech is expected from the groom’s “partner in crime,” but it is not encouraged for the FOB.
Not only does the joke angle diminish the heartfelt moment the father should be sharing with his daughter, but telling jokes to a big crowd is also extremely risky. It requires expert timing and delivery, and the odds are that probably you don’t have those skills (unless you’re a professional comedian, of course). If you’re not a great public speaker, your jokes may only yield a sea of blank faces.
Just as you should avoid cringeworthy jokes, you should also steer clear of rambling on with long, uninteresting stories. If your audience checks out, you can sense it in the air. It might make you feel even more nervous and flustered, and no one likes that!
Welcome Your New Son or Daughter
You’ve probably heard people say that on their child’s wedding day, they gained a daughter or a son. This is true: the man or woman your daughter marries will hopefully play a major role in your life for years to come. For this reason, it’s important that you use your wedding day speech to welcome him or her into your family.
Take a moment to say a few words about your daughter’s new spouse. Discuss the things you like about them, the moment you knew they were going to be sticking around, or the love you can see when they look at your daughter.
This is a critical moment in the FOB speech. By taking the time to voice your support for her spouse, you’re also proving that you trust your daughter’s judgement, and that you have high hopes for her future as a married woman. And if you ask me, that is one of the greatest gifts any father can give his daughter on her wedding day!
Practice, Practice, Practice
You probably want your speech to be heart-warming, memorable, and well-recieved (or at least not embarrassing). But if you’re not comfortable with public speaking (or if you haven’t done it in a while), it’s absolutely essential that you practice. After all, even the most beautiful speech in the world won’t resonate with your guests if you’re whispering, mumbling, or buried in notecards!
Once you’ve written your speech, read it aloud. Read it to your spouse, to your parents, to your other kids, and pretty much to anyone who will listen. Get feedback from your loved ones about which parts work and which parts need editing. Get feedback on your delivery, too: are you talking too fast? Too slow? Are you pausing at the right beats? All this will help shape the emotional impact of your speech.
Wedding days are always emotional affairs, so of course it’s natural to feel a little nervous as you step up to the microphone. But if you’ve practiced enough, your speech should flow fairly easily, saving you from a potentially embarrassing situation. As long as you’ve followed our advice, your guests, your daughter, and her new spouse will all be feeling the love you have for every single one of them.