How to Write a Father of the Bride Speech
Your daughter’s getting married, and nerves about giving your speech are kicking in.
Not only are you expected to speak in front of all those people, but there’s a whole speech to write first!
Fortunately, the process can be relatively straightforward as long you leave enough time to prepare (that means starting weeks rather than days or hours before the big day) and have a solid process to follow.
Use the steps below to make writing your speech as painless as possible.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Before starting on your speech make sure you know enough about the format for the day and exactly what people will expect of you.
Although you may already be familiar with most of the details, a quick phone or email to your daughter should help fill in any remaining details.
Here are a few questions to ask:
- Who are the speakers, and in what order will they speak? (Remember: Father of the Bride, the Groom, then Best Man is the rule, but this wedding may be different!)
- Where do the speeches fall in the wedding schedule? (e.g., after the main course of the wedding breakfast but before dessert.)
- Will there be a separate “MC” (e.g., provided by the venue) to introduce the speakers? If not, will to do that as part of your role? you be expected
- Will speakers use a microphone or just project their voices?
- What’s the overall tone of the wedding: e.g., small and intimate or larger and more formal?
2) Brainstorm Initial Ideas
Once you have a good idea of the parameters you’ll be expected to work within, it’s time to generate some raw material for your speech.
So write down any ideas that come easily to mind that you might want to include in your speech. At this stage you’re not trying to fit things into a specific structure, just capture a few initial ideas that might come in useful later.
Use the following questions to guide you:
- What memories from your daughter’s life stand out?
- What are your daughter’s best (or most distinctive) qualities?
- What do you want to say to your daughter on her special day? personally
- What would your wife or partner want you to say about your daughter?
- What could you say about the groom and why he’s the perfect husband for her?
For capturing your ideas you can keep things “old school” and use pen and paper or open a blank document on your computer.
Tip: If you choose the paper route try using “Post-It” style sticky notes for your ideas – it’ll make it easier to organize your thoughts later on.
3) Pick a Target Structure
Decide on a basic structure for your speech, at least to use as a starting point.
Review both the “short and sweet” outline and our comprehensive speech template to work out which best suits your needs.
If you opt for the latter, consider the best way to organize the stories that will form the heart of your speech. You have several options here:
- Chronological: tell your stories in the order that they happened, from early life to adulthood.
- Roles: pick stories that illustrate specific roles the bride plays in her life, e.g., as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, etc.
- Qualities: pick stories that illustrate certain qualities of her you want to highlight, e.g., her loyalty, her sense of , her determination, etc. humour
Once you have a target structure either write corresponding headings on a piece of paper or type them into a blank document on your computer.
Tip: If you’re using the Post-It approach, write each heading on a separate piece of paper and then add the notes that correspond to that part of your speech.
4) Organize Your Thoughts
Using your chosen structure to guide you, start organizing your initial thoughts according to the major sections of the speech.
If you’re working on paper, that means copying some ideas that arose during the brainstorming stage under the correct headings. If you’re working on your computer, you can cut and paste them in.
It’s natural that not every idea will make the final cut, so don’t try to cram everything in and you may also find that you need to brainstorm more ideas to fill in any gaps in your structure.
Once your ideas are in place, it’s time to flesh them out a little and also move things around for the best flow.
5) Write a First Draft
Once you have a solid structure for your speech with enough ideas under each of the major sections, start writing out the text of your speech in full.
Even if you don’t intend to learn your speech word for word, it’s still useful to write it out like this to get a feel for how everything hangs together when you get into the detail.
Again you have the option of writing it out longhand or typing it up on your computer. Unless you have a strong preference for paper, now’s a good time to move to an electronic version of your speech because you’ll find it easier to move things around and make other edits as you develop your speech.
Tip: Don’t spend too long at this stage working on the exact phrasing for you points, just try to create a speech that flows roughly from beginning to end and sounds like a complete speech instead of a list of bullet points.
6) Read It Out Loud and Revise
Once you have a version of your speech that seems to work well on the page, with the basic ideas flowing smoothly from one to the next, it’s important to read it out loud.
That’s because a common mistake is to assume that a speech that reads smoothly in your mind will sound equally smooth when delivered aloud.
So read your speech out loud at a realistic speed and notice if you’re tripping over any specific words or sentences. You’ll be surprised at how often sentences which seem to flow nicely on the page turn into a treacherous tongue-twisters when spoken out loud.
Make a note of any stumbling points and then revise your text to eliminate any potential problems.
Remember, this is an iterative process: reading your speech, making adjustments and then reading again. You should find that the changes get smaller and smaller until you naturally home in on a final version.
Once you have a version you’re happy with, consider reading it in front of a trusted friend or family member to get an external perspective and making any final revisions.
And then you’re done!
Note: During this phase it’s a good idea to grab a stopwatch and check how long your speech runs. Be sure to pause between major sections and allow a little time for audience reactions. Then consider if you need to expand or trim your speech based on the length.
Follow These Steps to Create Your Perfect Speech
You’ve heard the old advice about how to eat and elephant, right? One bite at a time.
So instead of fretting over the idea of writing your whole speech, just break the task down and focus on one step at a time.
The most important thing is to keep moving forward and maintain your momentum.
So grab your diary and block out some time for working on each step of your speech.
Before you know it, you’ll have a speech to be proud of!