Father of the Bride Speech Etiquette

As the father of the bride, the last thing you want to do with your speech is cause any offence or put a blot on an otherwise perfect day.

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to give an excellent father of the bride speech that entertains the guests without upsetting anyone.

But if you’re in any doubt about some aspect of your speech, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution. Your daughter will want everything to be perfect so don’t do or say anything that risks harmony on the day.

However, sometimes the problem areas aren’t 100% obvious and you need help to avoid any awkward faux pas.

So here’s a crash course in the accepted wedding speech etiquette together with a run-down of other mistakes to avoid.

1) Don’t Talk about Money

Even if you and your wife or partner have contributed significantly to the cost of the wedding, alluding to any financial support you’ve given is usually considered bad form.

While you might get away with a gentle joke about the impact on your pocket of the special day, avoid saying anything guests could interpret as you telling them how generous you are.

Chances are the groom will thank you in his speech, so just remember that discretion is the better part of valour for yours.

2) Don’t Embarrass the Bride

Yes, it’s traditional to tell stories about the Bride’s early life and there’s nothing wrong with sharing memories that don’t paint her in a wholly positive light – in fact a bit of gentle teasing adds humour and variety to your speech.

However, avoid any topics that might genuinely embarrass or upset the Bride. Her wedding should be one of the happiest days of her life and you don’t want to do or say anything that might burst that bubble.

For instance, you probably want to avoid talking about her ex-boyfriends. It’s very hard to do it in a way that doesn’t embarrassing her (or her husband) or simply seeming inappropriate to the guests.

So if you look at your speech draft and see anything that risks crossing the line, do the right thing and cut it from your speech.

3) Don’t Forget the Mother of the Bride

While it’s a rather old-fashioned convention, the father of the bride traditionally speaks on behalf of himself and his wife.

So make sure you mention your wife or partner in your speech. For example, when wishing the couple the best for the future, make a point of saying how the sentiment comes from both of you.

Ignore this point and while your daughter may not notice, your wife probably will.

4) Don’t Step on the Toes of Other Speakers

You might be the first of the wedding speakers, but you’re not the only one. So be wary of stepping into territory that the other speakers—and in particular the groom—might feel are safe ground for their speeches.

For instance, you may know a funny story relating to how your daughter and the groom first met, but there’s a good chance the groom may want to tell that story himself.

The safest approach is to focus your speech on your daughter’s years before she met her now-husband.

And if you absolutely must encroach upon subjects that other speakers might expect to cover, check with them before including them in your own speech.

5) Don’t Rely on All-Too-Familiar Lines and Clichés

Writing your Father of the Bride speech can sometimes feel like hard work and it’s all too tempting to search on the internet for inspiration.

However, much of the material available online is reused and recycled so many times that it will already be familiar to many of the guests. And the last thing you want to happen is for guests to write off your speech as copycat effort.

So the more personal you can make your speech—using your own words and feelings—the more genuine and original will come across.

Additionally, you’ll feel much better about giving a speech only you could have made than a compilation of bits from other people’s speeches.

6) Don’t Drink Too Much Before Your Speech

You might feel you need a little “Dutch courage” to settle your nerves and no-one’s saying you should avoid alcohol altogether (it’s a celebration after all!) but it’s all too easy to have one or two drinks too many.

You’ll know your own limits but it’s best to err on the side of caution. Nothing is likely to embarrass your daughter quicker than seeing her intoxicated father slurring his way through his speech!

So do your best to save the drinking until after your speech. The champagne will taste all the better in the immediate afterglow of a speech well-delivered.

7) Don’t Overstay Your Welcome!

Your wedding speech is important and you’ll naturally want to do the best job for your daughter that you can.

However, in the bigger picture, the father of the bride is really just the warm-up act. You can think of your speech as being like the light but tasty starter in a three-course meal. So don’t fall into the trap of giving a speech that goes on for too long.

This discipline starts at the writing stage because the longer your speech is on the page, the longer it will be on the day.

Try to keep your speech to 5 to 7 minutes, which for most people is around 750-1,000 words.

Avoid These Pitfalls and Deliver a Perfectly Pitched Speech

Now you know exactly what to watch out for, it’ll be easy to deliver a father of the bride speech that stays on the right side of good etiquette.

Keep these points in mind when you’re writing your speech and be sure to revisit once you’re done.

Bottom line: well done for checking on the “do’s and don’ts” before getting started, but now it’s time to use that knowledge and get to work on your speech!

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