Categories: Wedding Advice For Men
The pressure isn't just on the best man to come out with an unbelievably funny speech, the father of the bride also has a huge amount of pressure. In fact, some see it as more stressful, as the father of the bride is traditionally the first person to give a speech.
It is now your job to create a mind blowing speech, rather than a warm-up job for the other talkers. There are a number of rules to getting this speech spot on, such as removing the cheesy jokes and not going on for too long. Have a read of our guidelines below in order to perform and write the perfect father of the bride speech.
Getting the structure of the speech right is important, to ensure it runs smoothly and for all the jokes to connect in the right way. Below is our general recommendation of how you should shape it, but feel free to alter yours to make sure it sounds right.
First you need to gather everyone's attention. Get the room to become completely silent, so you can begin your talk. For this reason, I strongly recommend not directly opening with a joke, as half the audience won't hear it, as they are all turning around and adjusting their seats.
Introduce yourself, for anyone who doesn't know who you are and thank everyone for attending. Remember that there will always be a few who have maybe started the drinking early, so you need to quieten everyone down, even if you don't want to be overly authoritive straight away.
You also need to be aware that many people further back or hard of hearing might not be able to hear everything, so speak loudly or make sure there is a microphone available.
While thanking everyone for coming, it is also important to use this moment to highlight the people who couldn't make it and pass on any messages they have written for the couple.
You should enquire beforehand who was invited but couldn't attend, or maybe people who live too far away. One better, you could get them to write a message and you could read it out, or if you have access to a TV/projector, you could get them to make a video, but this often can lead to technical difficulties, so tread carefully with this option.
You know your daughter better than almost anyone else in the world, so you can make a judgement on how she will respond to humour and how far to go with the teasing. As the best man will be ridiculing the groom, this is a great opportunity to bring up some embarrassing stories of your daughter as she was growing up, highlighting how far she has come, or hasn't.
Beyond all the jokes, you really do want to highlight how much of a proud father you are.
Always try to finish with something very sweet about your daughter. The connection between dad and daughter will always get a few people crying in the audience, so make sure to get this right and you'll have people coming up to you all evening with praise and hugs.
It is important to let the guy know he is being completely welcomed to the family and how proud you are to do so. Try to think of some stories of how you met or the times since you've known him. This will be down to your previous experience with him, but many people either go for a funny story or for a deeply moving story of how you realised he was the one for your daughter.
Of course, don't completely leave it to the best man, try and sneak in a few jokes at his expense, it's only right!
Most people include a few lines on the partner, you don't need something lengthy, it depends how well you know them, but you can focus it on how happy you see they make your daughter.
You've had your fun at both parties expense, now it is time to tug on their heartstrings. Dig deep and say something that even the most dry eye in the house will find itself blaming the onion peeling in the kitchen. You can also bring up (providing you're still happily married) that you hope they have a relationship as happy as you and her mother has had.
You've done all the hard work, you can breath a sigh of relief, as now you have to raise a glass and toast the happy couple. Get everyone on their feet to lift a glass and then chug your drink down. The party starts now for you!
It might sound silly, but make sure you have a full drink at the start, so you're not lifting an empty glass at the end. Also, you may get thirsty when doing a speech, so keep some water closeby.
You can try something witty for the toast, or you can simply say 'to the happy couple, everyone raise a glass', it's all up to you.
You should start off by writing the speech way too long. I normally recommend a speech around five minutes long, however I also recommend initially writing a twenty minute speech. The reason for this is that you will cut out the jokes that don't cut the mustard.
Once you practice in front of someone (try to make it someone who isn't attending the wedding), they will be able to point out the areas that could be improved, what to delete or anything that could be added or extended.
Also, if you start writing the speech a good 6 months in advance, then you will think of constant funny anecdotes and stories that could be included. If you start this far in advance, you may begin with some cheesy jokes, but eventually replace them all with personal stories that will both make people laugh harder and pull on their heart strings.
In regards to when the father of the bride speech will take place, it normally occurs just after the dinner. This is because everyone is normally starving, so you don't want people waiting, or rudely eating through the speech. Make sure everyone has finished their meal and then topped up their glasses.
Waiting till after the meal also buils momentum, it's all a process and you want something exciting after a 3 course meal.
You will be kicking off the speeches, making the first talk, which can be nervous, but it also means you get it out of the way and then can relax, drink and laugh at the other speeches.
After you've spoken, it will often be the father of the groom or parents of the groom to go next. You will then have the maid of honour talk, before the best man closes it all of (traditionally anyway, you can change it however you like).
I know you will want to have a drink beforehand in order to settle your nerves, but you will be a lot more grateful if you don't. Alcohol affects your short term memory and could leave you blurring lines you had inch perfect only a week before. Hold on till you've had your speech, that way the toasting drink will taste so much sweeter!
Some people do take a shot just beforehand, including people who talk on stage, I can't personally say what will work for you, but I can admit this made my speech a little more messy and had the opposite effect.
This might sound like an obvious point, but you should practice your speech repeatedly until you have it completely memorised. I have been to a number of weddings where the father wrote the speech the night before or planned on relying completely on cards and it just felt awkward the whole way through.
If you practice the speech so you don't have to rely on the cards, the punchlines and emotional sections will sound so much more sincere and clear.
Practice will also mean the speech is that little bit quicker, it will flow smoothly and there won't be any awkward pauses as you look for where you were.
When you're reading off a sheet, our voices go downwards and it makes it harder for people to hear. Also, people want to see your face and your reactions, like a comedian, you don't want to see the top of their head as they stare downwards, so practice will make all of your lines seem so much more sincere.
OK, I 100% recommend learning the speech off by heart, but it can still help to have cards in front of you, highlighting each section title, so you know what comes next, in-case you lose your place or suffer from nerves.
The reason I mention cards rather than an A4 page is that the speech doesn't look as long as when you hold a massive page, it looks cleaner, plus you are less likely to lose your place (well, as long as you don't lose a card).
On that subject, I would recommend printing multiple copies of the cards and giving a spare copy in an envelope to your other half, so you have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are nervous is to talk way too quickly. This will mean you become unclear and not everyone will catch what you say. This could damage the effect the talk has, so take a deep breath every now and then and focus on each sentence individually, rather than rushing to the end.
If you've made a joke, just pause for the laughter to end. Othewise people may miss the start of the next line, which can tarnish its effect. Many professional speakers state the quality of a speech is in the length of the pause, as you own the silence.
This was a bizarre presentation skill I learnt while at The Stag Company, which is to pretend you are holding an apple in your hand while presenting.
This combats the issue many guys face when talking in front of an audience, which is what to do with your hands. If your hands are in your pockets, you look uninterested, while keeping them crossed makes you look cross.
I used to try to keep mine to the side, but this just made me look nervous. What a large number of presenters do is act animated with their hands, using them to help explain the stories.
The idea of holding an apple in one hand offers a respectable standing position, as long as you move your hand around, rather than standing their the entire time with you hand held aloft.
This can also help against just holding the cards and people potentially seeing them shake a little, so if your hands are darting around then a shake is less visible.
Ok, don't judge me on whether these are good or not, just pick and choose one or two for your speech that you think will land well. These are only to pad out your speech, but they help to get the audience onboard and in a humourous state.
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