As the father of the bride, your most important role on the wedding day of your darling daughter is to escort her down the aisle to the love of her life. But your speech at her reception definitely runs a close second.
The perfect father of the bride speech will not only talk about what makes your daughter so special, it will bring laughter and likely more than a few tears to the eyes of the bride and your family. It’s also a chance for you to impart some wisdom to the newlyweds and welcome the newest member of your family.
If you’re feeling the pressure of packing all of that into a five-minute speech, not to worry. With our help, you can accomplish all of that with style and create a memorable moment for your daughter on her special day.
The Dos and Don’ts for a Fab Father of the Bride Speech
Giving a speech that does justice to your little girl can seem like a daunting task, especially if she’s your first child to marry. To help you carry off your speech with finesse, here are 15 important tips to keep in mind.
1. Do brainstorm
Writing a speech to honor your baby girl is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re not a writer by trade.
Brainstorming can really help you decide what to include in your speech. Be sure to ask the bride’s mother and siblings to help you brainstorm ideas. A group effort can bring out some truly great memories and may help you to flesh out the details a bit more.
After choosing your favorite anecdote, make it the centerpiece of your speech. Choosing one great memory to talk about in detail is always better than skimming over four or five funny stories. Remember, it’s always better to have your speech be brief than way too long if you don’t want to bore your guests.
2. Do focus on your opening
As the father of the bride, you will likely be the first person to speak, so it’s important to make your opening memorable. Start by introducing yourself as the father of the bride in as creative a way as possible rather than just stating your name and relationship to the bride.
Instead of saying, “Hello, I’m Bill, father of the bride,” try something like, “good evening, my name is Bill and I am the proud father of Penelope, an amazing woman and a beautiful bride.” Not only will it be sure to bring a tear to your daughter’s eye, but your audience will know right away how much you love your daughter.
3. Don’t use your speech to thank an endless list of people
As the father of the bride, your speech should focus on your daughter and her new spouse. If you spend time thanking people, your speech will not only be too lengthy, but you’ll be stealing the groom’s thunder as host of the event.
The groom traditionally thanks the guests, vendors and anyone who helped make the wedding a success in his speech, so it’s best to avoid doing so yourself.
Limit your gratitude to a general thank you to your guests for helping you and your family celebrate one of the most important days of your daughter’s life.
4. Do keep your speech short
We get it, you’re a proud dad and want everyone to know how awesome your daughter is, but telling story after story about the bride will make your speech way too long.
Keep in mind, most guests are far more interested in getting on with the party portion of the reception than in listening to speeches. No matter how heartfelt and charming your speech is, your guests will lose interest if you talk too long.
While a father of the bride speech can be longer than the best man and maid of honor speeches, you still need to be careful not to be too verbose. The best dad of the bride speeches usually run around five minutes. Even if you have a lot to say, your speech should never exceed six minutes.
5. Do talk about the bride, but don’t embarrass her
As the bride’s dad, you are no doubt privy to some hilarious stories about her growing up years. But choose the stories you share carefully. The goal of any father of the bride’s speech is to relay sweet and amusing anecdotes, not mortify your daughter.
No one wants to hear about the vacation where she got carsick and threw up five times. Instead, focus on choosing a cute story from her childhood that can transition into who she is today.
Perhaps you can talk about the time she received a standing ovation for belting out a solo at a Christmas concert at the tender age of five — now, at 25, she has turned her passion for music into a career as a high school music teacher.
Maybe she was crazy about horses and went riding every chance she got — and now she’s a vet specializing in equine medicine.
Maybe she was always falling off her bicycle and crashing into trees, yet now she’s a driving instructor.
No matter what stories you choose to tell, sweet is always better than embarrassing.
6. Don’t talk about yourself
As the bride’s dad, you’ve no doubt played a major role in her life. While sharing stories about memorable times you’ve had with her is great, keep the focus on the bride rather than on you.
After introducing yourself, keep any additional references to yourself minimal. The goal is to talk about the bride and her new spouse.
7. Don’t talk about the bride’s exes
A cardinal rule for any wedding speech is to avoid talking about any of the bride’s past romantic relationships. Talking about exes in front of her spouse and new in-laws is tacky, even if it does involve a funny story. Stick to anecdotes that involve friends and family so you won’t embarrass the bride or make anyone feel awkward.
8. Don’t use inside jokes
As the father of the bride, you no doubt share a special bond with your daughter. You may even have a few inside jokes with her that no one else knows about. Your speech is not the time to share them. If the wedding guests don’t understand what you’re talking about, they will quickly lose interest and tune you out.
9. Do make your speech unique
All fathers think their daughters are wonderful. Amazing, smart, kind and talented are just a few of the words you’ll hear in father of the bride speeches. But instead of simply using a string of complimentary adjectives to describe the bride, explain why she is all of those things.
Rather than simply saying your daughter is smart, talk about how she always beats everyone at Scrabble and was the reigning champion at every school science fair. Instead of saying she’s kind, talk about how she used her allowance every year to buy Christmas presents for Toys for Tots.
One adjective you should feel free to use, however, is beautiful. There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling your daughter she is the most beautiful bride you’ve ever seen.
10. Do talk about the new addition to your family
While the father of the bride speech is mostly about your daughter, it’s imperative that you mention her new life partner as well.
Whether you have a funny story to tell about the first time you met or you talk about how happy your daughter is since they met, be sure to dedicate at least a few sentences to the newest member of your family. At a minimum, be sure to welcome your daughter’s partner into the family and express your desire for many happy moments with the newly married couple.
11. Do mention the bride’s mother
Unless you raised your daughter alone, there is one very important woman you should mention in your speech aside from your daughter — her mother. Whether you’re still together or you’re divorced, you should mention good traits she has inherited from her mother or talk about how special their relationship is.
12. Do share some advice
If you and the bride’s mother are still happily married, share some of your tips and tricks on how to have a successful, long-lasting marriage. If you’re divorced, you can reference another family member who has had a long, happy marriage. Ask the couple for their best advice beforehand and work it into your speech.
13. Do end with a toast
As the father of the bride, your speech is one of the most important of the night, so be sure to end it on a high note before offering your congratulations to your daughter and her soulmate.
It’s also your prerogative as the father of the bride to ask your guests to rise and toast the happy couple with you. Give everyone a chance to stand and then raise your glass to the newlyweds with all of your guests.
14. Don’t talk too fast
If you’re feeling nervous about speaking in front of a lot of people, it’s natural to want to talk quickly and get it over with. But if you rush through your speech, it will make it harder to understand and will ruin what should be a wonderful memory for your daughter.
Take a few deep breaths before you step up to the mic and concentrate on speaking in a casual, conversational tone. Practicing that ahead of time will keep you from talking too fast during the reception, which leads us to our next point.
15. Do practice beforehand
Arguably, this is one of the most important speeches you’ll ever make so putting the effort in to make it a moment to remember for your daughter is vital.
While you don’t have to memorize your speech, experts do recommend practicing until it flows out in a natural and organic way. Whether you need to rehearse 10 times or more, make sure you start practicing a week before the big day.
Practice giving your speech to your wife or partner and other family members and be open to feedback. If they suggest you need to tweak it a bit, be willing to do that. It can also help to practice in front of the mirror or even to record yourself to get your gestures and pacing down pat.
Pro tip: Part of pacing your speech properly is remembering to pause after you say something amusing or sweet. This gives people time to react with laughter or a chorus of ‘awwwww.’
Still in need of some inspiration? These two examples will have you well on your way to crafting your own amazing speech for your daughter’s big day.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Tom, the proud father of our beautiful bride. I’d like to thank all of our friends and family for making this such a special day and for joining us in celebrating this incredible couple. (gesture to the newlyweds)
I’d like to tell you about one of the best days of my life. It occurred on April 23, 1998, when our baby girl Cassandra Rose was born. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of holding your first-born child in your arms. But as wonderful as that day was, this day, the day I gave you away to start a new and exciting life with the man you love, is running a very close second.
Cassandra, your mother and I have had the privilege of watching you grow from a precocious, imaginative and energetic child into the clever, charming and lovely young woman you are today. You have your mother’s kindness and nurturing spirit and, like her, I know you will be a fantastic wife and mother.
You have given us so many wonderful memories to treasure over the years, but one of my favorites is from when you were seven years old.
The year was 2005 and it was the first Season of “Dancing with the Stars.” To say it was Cassandra’s favorite show was putting it mildly. Before an episode started, she would race to her room and don a dress and her best dancing shoes. She would then dance along with the dancers — every dance from every single episode. If a slow enough song came on that she thought I could actually keep up, she’d look at me and say “come on daddy, I need a partner.” I always did my best, but I never had quite the same flare as Cassandra did.
Nine years later, when she was sweet 16, she met Jacob. As the father of a very pretty teenage girl, I wasn’t terribly trusting of boys. And the first time Jacob came to pick her up, I made him well aware of my feelings. As I watched their relationship blossom and grow from puppy love into something deep and true, however, I couldn’t help but feel blessed that Cassandra had chosen a young man that was so kind and considerate of her and so respectful to her mother and I.
It was easy to welcome him into our family then and it is with pleasure now that my wife and I can do so officially. Jacob, watching the way you have loved and respected my daughter over the years has allowed me to give her to you as your wife without worry or reservation. You are everything I could have hoped for for my Cassandra, and I am honored to finally be able to call you son.
Marriage is a wonderful and beautiful thing, but it’s not always easy. The best advice I can give to you is this: never love anyone more than you love each other. If you have children, you will, of course, love them completely and unconditionally, but always put each other first. Find ways to surprise and delight each other. Cherish your alone time together and never take each other or your relationship for granted.
My wish for you both is a life filled with love, laughter and many blessings. Please stand with me to toast Cassandra and Jacob. (Give guests a chance to grab their glass and stand) To the bride and groom!
Family, friends, thank you for being here tonight to celebrate the union of my daughter Lacie with my new son-in-law Grayson. My name is Peter and my wife, Jessica, and I and Grayson’s parents Phil and Donna would like to thank you for helping to make this evening so special.
As a father of three daughters, I knew this day would come eventually. A day when I’d have to relinquish my title as the most important man in their lives to their future husbands. And, on the day that I give my eldest daughter away, I can honestly say that I do so with confidence because Grayson, over the past three years, I’ve witnessed your devotion to Lacie.
My wife and I have seen how you cherish her and protect her but also treat her with respect and as an equal to you in every way. Nothing could make us happier than to welcome you into our family not just as our daughter’s husband, but as a son.
Lacie, you have made your mom and I so proud over the years and we have countless precious memories of you as you grew from a child into the remarkable woman you are today. You inherited your mother’s beauty and her talent for putting everyone at ease. Just like your mom, you have the kind of smile that lights up a room and you always know what to say to make people feel better.
But, I’d like to think you inherited some of your good traits from me too. We always bonded over our shared passion for literature and I cherish the memories of reading many of the classics with you as a child. I remember when you insisted on us reading “Pride and Prejudice” together when you were only nine.
The very first line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” perplexed you for a minute. And then you said to me, “Daddy, how can a man be fortunate without a wife? He’d be all alone.”
Even after I explained it to you, you insisted that a man couldn’t really have fortune if he didn’t have someone to love. Your wisdom at such a young age, Lacie, impressed me because what you said was so true. I’m sure that, today, Grayson could agree with what you said 20 years ago. Love is a possession worth far more than any worldly good.
Lacie, you have continually impressed your mom and I, and not just because you excelled in elementary school and high school or graduated from college with honors. Even more than your intelligence, we’re proud of your compassion for others and the way you give back to try to make the world a kinder place. It has gladdened our hearts to see you choose a man that shares in your passion for helping others.
Just like the homes that you’ve built together through Habitat for Humanity, may your own home be just as filled with love.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s that you always love each other unselfishly. When you both put each other’s needs before your own, you will never doubt the other’s devotion. No marriage is perfect and hard times may come, but cling to each other through every storm. Turn to each other and rely on each other and I know you’ll be stronger and love one another more deeply for it.
Please stand with me and wish Lacie and Grayson a happy marriage and a long and wonderful life together. (wait for guests to rise) To Lacie and Grayson!