Traditionally, at the reception, the bride’s father is the first to make a speech to the wedding guests. At lots of weddings that I do the father of the bride is usually very nervous and all he can think about is saying a few words and then sitting down as quickly as possible.
Hopefully with a few of my tips below this will help to make it a more enjoyable experience.
What to include in your speech
Whether you intend to make it short and sweet, or to really reap the benefits of the spotlight, your speech will need to contain some basic elements if it is to be in keeping with tradition. These are…
You need to introduce yourself, but it doesn’t have to be reminiscent of an AA meeting. Tell them your name and maybe crack a small joke to make yourself feel relaxed.
Make a formal welcome to everyone, and thank them for coming. Try to mention, in particular, the bride’s mother and the groom’s parents too.
She’s made you pay for it, and now’s your chance to get a little of your own back on her! Recall a funny anecdote from her youth, or simply tell her how proud you are of the woman she’s become.
Formally welcome the groom to your family, in any way you feel appropriate. You can mention how you felt about him when you first met him, or a moment when you’ve been particularly glad he’s around.
As the elder speaker at the wedding, you should impart some of your wisdom to the happy couple about maintaining a healthy marriage or living a happy life. This is also a good place to throw in some jokes about wives, weddings or life in general, just as long as it doesn’t upset your wife!
Finish up by asking everyone to stand and raise a glass to the happy couple. No doubt, the best man will do something similar at the end of his speech too, but it’s the traditional way to close yours.
Timing is everything
Don’t go on telling old stories that few people in the audience will know about. Keep things fun, engaging and aim for a speech that lasts around six to seven minutes in total. Read your speech through at your normal speaking pace to gauge how long this really is.
Keep it clean
Jokes are a great way to break the ice and loosen up the crowd, but don’t be too focused on being funny. You’re the elder statesman of the speakers today, so you can afford to be a bit more conservative with your words. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a few jibes at the expense of the wedding or your daughter’s love of spending money, just don’t go too close to the bone. Leave it to the best man to have a go at the groom, and focus on welcoming your new son-in-law to the family and toasting the happy couple.
Hold on to your emotions
This is such a big occasion for you and all your family, it can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all. Do your best to keep things light and happy. If there are some personal things you would like to say to your daughter, but don’t want to include in your speech, write them down for her to read on the day instead.
The last word
Ask any public speaker what their biggest fear is, and they’ll pretty much always say it’s forgetting where they are in their speech. Fumbling over your words and getting a bit lost is nothing to be ashamed of, provided you can make a quick recovery and get back on track okay. Take your speech on cue cards with bullet-pointed reminders of what you want to talk about, rather than printing it all out in full. This will give you a more natural delivery, and will save you having to read through several paragraphs to find your place after getting lost.
If you do get stuck, use a moment to clear your throat, take a drink of water or give your daughter a kiss. These moments might seem a lifetime to you, but will feel like a natural pause to your audience, and will give you the breathing space you need to get things back on track. Take your time, don’t panic and try to enjoy your moment of fame.