The Father-of-the-Bride speech has the potential to be the most memorable of all. Done properly, it has the latitude to be funny, thoughtful and deeply poignant. However, it also has the potential to go horribly wrong and become an emotional wrecking ball.
Here are the “Seven Daddy Sins” of bad speechmaking…
Some Fathers-of-the-Bride (hereafter known as “FOBs”) love talking about themselves. Maybe they are accustomed to giving business pitches. Maybe they are uncomfortable talking about their feelings in public. All too often, they resort to tedious autobiography… “After selling carpets in the west country, I set up my own antiques business in Worcester. It went bankrupt. So then, in 1974, I moved into double glazing…”
Believe it or not, many FOBs struggle to recall their children’s early years. If so, they must take advice (usually from Mum of the bride or “MOB” to fill the gaps. Never ever admit amnesia. Nothing will upset a bride more than the thought that her father has completely forgotten their first (all important) years together… “I can’t really remember Suzy as a child. I wasn’t about much of course. But I’m told she was good value.”
This is unforgiveable and remarkably common. Many FOBs get it wrong hugely, referring in hideous detail to their daughter’s potty training, bed wetting or even their “exes”. Imagine what a comment like this might do to a bride’s peace of mind on her big day… “When Suzy’s first boyfriend stayed over, we put them in the old guest room. Big mistake. For some reason, the floorboards were squeaking all night.”
Raising the dead
This can be doubly dangerous. Discussing beloved relatives who have passed away can be upsetting for the bride and for the speaker. It is natural to want to remember them but try to avoid being over emotional. It could wreck the speech and make the bride and guests extremely uncomfortable.
For some Dads it is very hard to let go. They may feel the need to posture and assert themselves one last time. Often this might be talking how much money the reception has cost them. Alternatively, Dad’s alpha male-ism might be focused on the Groom: “You break my princess’s heart, and I will hunt you down like the dog you are….”
It’s never an edifying spectacle to wash dirty linen in public. Sadly, with today’s high divorce rates, it is not unusual for separated couples to be sharing the top table. Of course, old animosities have no place at the wedding reception. Nothing negative should be in the speech and raking over bad memories is utterly unacceptable: “I was busy at work in those days… Suzy’s mother never understood that… which is why she went off with her tennis coach”.
We have all seen misty eyed FOBs give heart-warming speeches about their daughters. This is wonderful. However, tread carefully. Emotions can ambush the unwary speaker. A sobbing FOB quickly becomes a spectacle and the initial audience “aahs” will rapidly turn to “eeurrghs” once tears and mucus start streaming everywhere!
Giving a speech doesn’t have to be nerve-racking – all you have to do is know what to mention and what to avoid! Lawrence Bernstein of Great Speech Writing knows a thing or ten about wedding speeches and will be happy to help you with yours! Please give him a call on 0208 245 899 or contact him here.