How to Craft a Heartfelt Father of the Bride Speech

Calling all dads: Prep for your daughter's wedding day with these expert-approved father of the bride speech tips.
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana
Lauren Dana Ellman - The Knot Contributor.
Lauren Dana
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a contributor for The Knot covering topics such as music, cakes, venues and speeches.
  • She has been published in a wide array of lifetsyle-oriented publications including SELF and Allure.
  • Lauren is a proud graduate of Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communication.
Updated Jul 25, 2021

If you are a father of a bride-to-be — you've probably dreamed of (or dreaded!) your daughter's wedding since she was a little girl. Now that the big day is finally here, you'll be tasked with presenting a heartwarming father of the bride speech, which is sure to be a tear-jerker: So, bring along a pack of tissues along for the emotional roller coaster ride. (Trust us, they'll certainly come in handy.)

"This, without a doubt, is one of the most emotional speeches, so there will surely be many tears," says Fátima Falcon of Momentos Weddings and Events in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. What's more, emotions are sure to run high on the day of your daughter's wedding, which can make it difficult to deliver a heartfelt wedding toast to your daughter and her new spouse. Fortunately, we've compiled expert public speaking and wedding speech tips to help you write craft an authentic, emotional, and sentimental father of the bride speech that's sure to wow all of your friends and family members.

How Long Should a Father of the Bride Speech Be?

According to Falcon, the best father of the bride speeches are last around 6 minutes. She continues, "The tone should be more formal at the beginning and, as the minutes go by, more emotional." But, beware: "Anything over 10 minutes will lose the attention of the guests," advises Joanna Kwok of Honour and Blessing Events in Vancouver, Canada.

The father of the bride can expect to make the speech at the wedding reception, "just before dinner is served," says Katelyn Peterson, of Wedding Words, a wedding vow and speech writing service.

Alternatively, you can also give the father of the bride speech right before the father-daughter dance, says wedding planner Lynne Goldberg of Ms. Wedding Planner in South Florida, New York and Las Vegas. "That way, the very last line in the father of the bride speech can be: 'My beautiful daughter, may I have this dance?'" (I'm not crying — you are!)

How to Write a Father of the Bride Speech

A Father of the Bride Speech Template

As the father of the bride, your wedding speech should highlight your unwavering love and support for your daughter as she begins this exciting chapter with her new spouse. "Use this writing opportunity to express your love for your daughter and the special bond that you share now and will always share," Goldberg says. "Let her know that even though she is starting a new life, you will always be there for her."

Here's how the father of the bride speech should flow:

Welcome the guests. Falcon recommends opening up the speech by thanking everyone for attending the special day on behalf of the newly married couple.

Take a trip down memory lane. Both Goldberg and Falcon advise incorporating memorable moments from years past into your speech to paint a picture of your daughter, what makes her special, and how she's evolved into a beautiful bride. If you're stuck on what to mention, Falcon recommends writing about how it felt when you first found out you were having a little girl, what moments you most enjoyed with her, and the times you felt especially proud of your daughter.

Don't forget her spouse. "Make sure you include the person she has chosen to marry in your speech," Goldberg says. Falcon adds: How did you feel when your daughter first met her now-spouse? How has your affection grown for her partner over time? Afterward, Falcon recommends that you "share a few words about how he will be a great husband and partner."

Share marriage advice and toast the newlyweds. "The closing of this speech should be accompanied by some tips for having a good marriage, how to maintain a healthy relationship, how to solve problems and how to achieve good communication in their new family," Falcon tells The Knot. Then, have the wedding guests raise their glasses for a toast to the happy couple.

Who Does the Father of the Bride Thank in His Speech?

Don't forget to thank your wedding guests for attending. However, Peterson warns, "Long thank you's are boring and not necessary." Instead, she recommends "focus[ing] on the main folks who it would make sense for them to receive a dedicated shout-out." For example, a special shout-out your new in-laws adds an extra-sweet touch.

How to Give a Father of the Bride Speech

Father of the Bride Speech Jokes

Dads are infamous for their jokes, so feel free to sprinkle some into your speech, but don't go overboard. A little humor goes a long way — and be sure to keep it light-hearted, tasteful, and (actually) funny.

Here are a few of our favorite father of the bride speech jokes, all submitted by wedding planners themselves:

"I will miss being the man you always run to for guidance, but I won't miss getting the bills for your designer handbag obsession." - Goldberg

"Whenever you are wrong, admit it. Whenever you are right, shut up!" - Parks

Father of the Bride Speech Example

Seek inspiration from this original father of the bride speech:

I've long been ridiculed by my wife, family members, and now-adult children for my so-called "awful" dad jokes, so bear with me as I try to keep those to a minimum. As the father of the bride, the pressure is on me to deliver a poignant, powerful speech. Hopefully, I live up to your expectations. If not, there's the door.

But seriously, before I burst into tears, I wanted to take a quick second to thank all of our guests for coming out here today to celebrate Alex and Sam's big day. We feel so lucky to have such an amazing group of loved ones.

I've been picturing Alex's wedding day in my head since we first brought her home from the hospital. Honestly, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how fast Alex has grown up. It's hard to believe I'm standing here today, in front of you all, giving this speech. When I look into my daughter's eyes, I am amazed. Instead of the little girl who'd force me to play dress-up, watch Disney movies, and host fake tea parties with her stuffed animals, I now see a beautiful bride and an all-around exceptional young woman. And I am left speechless.

But, when Alex brought Sam home for the first time, I was terrified at the thought of her leaving the nest. And, I almost didn't want to like Sam; after all, dads aren't supposed to like their daughter's significant others, or, so I've been told by my much-older, less-wiser friends. But as soon as Sam walked through our door and began chatting me up about the Mets, he nearly swept me off my feet just as they did with Alex. Over time, our casual conversations evolved, and our bond became much stronger. She loved them, and I did, too.

Sam, you make the perfect addition to our family, and I'm so excited to call you my new [son/daughter/child]. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

Now that I'm all puffy-eyed, please join me in toasting to this incredible couple before we get back to the dance floor!

How to End the Father of the Bride Speech

When it comes time to end your speech, think short, sweet, and sentimental. "When the father of the bride inspires guests to wipe a tear away, that's when you know you've hit speech writing gold," Peterson tells The Knot.

Kwok recommends capping off your speech with a few uplifting words of encouragement for the newly married couple. Alternatively, end with a toast to the couple followed by a "wish for their future together," says Parks.

What NOT to Say in a Father of the Bride Speech

Err on the side of caution by avoiding any embarrassing — or potentially embarrassing memories, moments, or mishaps that could make your daughter, her new spouse, or wedding guests feel uncomfortable. According to Parks, this includes any mention of past relationships. "Exes are exes for a reason. They have no place at the wedding."

You'll also want to avoid jokes related to your bank account. "You may have spent a ton on this event, but joking about your now empty bank account will only make people feel awkward," Peterson says.

And, while you're at it, steer clear of cliches, as well. "We've all heard the line about how you're not losing a daughter, you're gaining a son," Peterson says, before continuing: "Instead, express how you feel about your new son-in-law or daughter-in-law in your own words."

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