Father of the bride speech rules

The bride's father (or a close relative or family friend) proposes the toast to the bride and groom.

The bride's father traditionally makes the first speech during the after-dinner reception, so everyone will be looking to you for some pearls of wisdom that both entertain and endear people to you and your family. These days, cocky young grooms and their laddish best men will often try out something edgy during their speech, all in the name of that hideous word… banter. If they took our advice they'd know how to write one properly, but instead that's going to fall upon you. To make sure there's at least one good speech on the day, follow these important father-in-law guidelines.

  • Plan to last between seven and ten minutes. This is around 1,000 words so keep it snappy and don't go into detail unless necessary.
  • Speak on behalf of you and your wife during the speech. Nothing destroys the harmonious image of married bliss like a father-in-law who forgets his other half exists.
  • If you have to make in-jokes at least give them a little bit of context. But avoid anecdotes that drone on and on. If it's the kind of story where "you had to be there", it doesn't belong here.
  • An entirely sentimental speech is going to win you brownie points from the wife and daughter, but prepare for some ribbing from the boys at the bar. Balance it out with some sharp one-liners from our collection.
  • I know your memory is not what it used to be, but if you can remember the entire line-up from United's last FA Cup win then you can at least remember the first couple of paragraphs, then read the rest.
  • Pace your speech properly using our templates, and pace yourself during the delivery. Don't read it like a racing commentator - remember to leave pauses for laughs and reactions. Don't dwell too long though, as people will think you've had a stroke.
  • Try and infuse your anecdotes with a bit of character by projecting your voice in a confident and assertive manner. Nobody is saying put on an am-dram performance, but at least give it some wellie!
  • Remember to thank everyone who was involved in the day, including friends, family, the little brats running around and perhaps yourself! Just don't drone on like Gwyneth Paltrow accepting an Oscar.
  • If you've gone for some risqué jokes then run the piece by your wife, otherwise you may as well double book the church for a funeral the day after.
  • Try and include both the bride and groom in your thoughts, as otherwise you're losing half the room. If your daughter's marrying an absolute arse then consider making thinly veiled threats using the guise of humour.
  • Leave them wanting more, not less. Brief snippets of wisdom and mirth work best in a speech like this, plus you don't want to use up all your good stories in one day!