Weddings are significant family occasions. If you are the bride or groom, the father of the bride or groom, or the ‘best man’, chances are you will be expected to give a speech.

Fortunately, weddings usually have a long lead time, so there is plenty of time to prepare. Better still, you can join Toastmasters and work on and practise that speech in a supportive, local, friendly club environment with plenty of constructive feedback. By the time the wedding comes around your speech should be a corker.

 Some suggestions are given here for the ‘Father of the Groom’ speech (assume in the comments that follow that Jane and John are the bride and groom and your wife is Susan). You will be introduced by the Emcee, typically to be the second speaker after the father of the bride.

Start by acknowledging the Emcee and then welcoming the guests and the bridal couple, eg:

Mr. Master of Ceremonies, friends of Jane and John, and most importantly Jane and John themselves. Susan and I welcome you all to celebrate this happy occasion.’

The next section of the speech, which may comprise 50 to 60 percent of the total, should be about John, your son. This is your chance to entertain the guests and make them laugh. After all, with the exception of your wife Susan, you are the most qualified person in the room to talk of John’s early days growing up. The tone should be light and humorous designed to entertain the guests, with content perhaps causing some mild embarrassment to John. It could cover his time in nappies, on training wheels, playing junior sport, early school days, notable habits or incidents. Remember, John’s late teens and adult life will likely be covered in the ‘best man’s’ speech later on in the speaking order and you don’t want to steal the ‘best man’s’ thunder.

If you can get the room laughing with your recollections it will tee your speech up nicely for a shift in tone to convey your true feelings about John. At this point you could commend his good points and say Susan and yourself are immensely proud of him.

Now is a good transition point to talk about Jane and her family – say 40 to 50 percent of the speech length. You could acknowledge the happiness Jane has brought into John’s life, how well-suited they seem to be and what a good couple they make. You could acknowledge the ‘father of the bride’s’ speech (assuming it preceded your’s) and endorse the good things said about Jane. You could say Susan and yourself are honoured to be welcoming Jane into the family as a daughter.

With Jane comes an extended family. Mention names. You are honoured now to be associated with them through Jane and John’s marriage. Some of Jane’s family (and there are bound to be some) you don’t know well or have not met before. You could say that later today, and in the years to come, you hope Susan and yourself will have the opportunity to know them all better.

If Jane and John have been living together for a while, you may choose to comment on this positively. If they already have a child or children, you could name the children and comment positively on them. Thank Jane and John for bringing them into Susan’s and your lives and commend Jane and John’s parenting qualities.

In closing the speech it is customary to end with a toast to the bride and groom (and children if any). The toast could take the following form:

 ‘In closing, I would like everyone to find a glass with some liquid in it,

(then pause to make sure this is happening),

to stand and make a toast to Jane and John. May they lead a long, happy and fulfilling life together.

(after a pause)

Please be seated.

(and then hand back to the Emcee by turning to him and saying)

Mister Master of Ceremonies.’

(You can then sit down yourself after a job well done.)

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