Preparing your Father of the Bride Toast
How many glorious Brides have you seen? Silly question. All Brides are glorious, beautiful and glowing.
How many incredibly expensive Wedding breakfasts have you attended where you had to cringe because the father-of-the-Bride made such an inarticulate Toast? Too many in my case. This is a long article because I am passionate about making Weddings as great as they can be.
Based on many years of coaching many people to make this very important Toast, youll find my blueprint of everything you should include in your Toast to your daughter and her new husband on their Wedding day. I then provide an example of a speech using those guidelines. So lets go!
After following my advice, I promise that youll make a wonderfully memorable speech. Your guests will leave your daughters wedding with very positive impressions about her as a woman, and as a future mate for her new husband.
As the father of the Bride, your role is simple and clear. In your brief address to your assembled guests, you need to:
* Welcome everyone,and thank them for making the day so special.
* Provide insights into your daughter as a unique and wonderful person.
* Formally welcome your new son-in-law into your family and tell the guests how happy you are about the marriage.
* Propose the Toast to the newly married couple.
Thats it. Very simple. Very straightforward but in my experience, rarely done well.
Even within that very simple framework and even adhering strictly to the time limit, you can make a speech that everyone will remember as being wonderful. To propose a Toast that will be truly memorable, read on.
Two unbreakable rules when proposing a Toast at your daughters Wedding.
1. NEVER tell stories that embarrass people. Ill be very cross if I hear that you chose to tell anecdotes that you think are absolutely hilarious, when theyre actually stories which make your daughter cringe with embarrassment.
I repeat: telling stories that embarrass other people is never funny. Multiply that truth by one hundred when the embarrassing anecdote is told in public. Multiply it to infinity when its (a)about your daughter and (b) its at her Wedding.
2. NEVER tell the guests about how wonderful YOU are.
Youd be surprised how often that happens. Well, you wont be surprised if youve been to a few weddings. Thats why its there as a rule. We dont want to hear how generous you are as a person and a father, and we most certainly dont need to hear about your success in business, your own marriage – except in passing. You are not the centre of the day.
Content of your brief speech
In your Toast you want to tell all the Wedding guests one or two things your daughter has done that make her unique.
Start by recalling and telling your guests how you felt when she was born, how you felt when you first saw her. Then provide only anecdotes about her early childhood which will reflect well and positively on her as a wonderful human being.
No, were not interested in her High School exam scores. Really. I mean that. We may be interested in her school efforts if she had to overcome some barriers to achieve what she did.
To find examples that will make people really sit up and remember her as a unique human being, ask yourself the following questions:
1 Has Monique ever volunteered to help other people?
2 Does she stand out as a very generous person?
3 What skill(s) does she have that sets her out from the crowd?
Yes, I know that you know her very well, but at an occasion like this, you want to do your best and sometimes its hard to put into words how wonderful your daughter is. May I suggest that you consider this question:
What do you think her closest friends love most about her?
Dont be afraid to ask one or two of her friends to help you out. Theyll be thrilled and honored to help.
All of those questions answer the fundamental question: Has the world been made a better place because your daughter is in it?
You know that is definitely the case. So you have to now tell your guests one or two anecdotes which illustrate why you know that to be true. Let them know some of her attributes as a human being that make you proud and happy to know her.
"We have the whole Universe. But we must fit it into our words."
You may quote me on that one! Yes, words are sometimes difficult and inadequate to convey important emotional messages. Please relax. Use your preparation time to find the words to make us realise how Natalie/Monique/Marie has changed your life and your wifes life for the better. Talk to your wife/partner (ex-wife/ex/partner) about that, and come up together with your stories.
Side note: divorced, separated or deceased parents
If youre divorced or separated from her mother and her mother is present, please acknowledge that her mother has been a wonderful parent. Your daughters wedding is a time for recognizing what was and is, great about her mother – regardless of your partnership breakdown. If Death came too soon and wrapped her mother in her cloak to take her far from us all, please use your judgment and emotional readiness to decide whether or not to mention your deceased wife/partner. Ask your daughter beforehand if she wants her mothers name mentioned.
(choose whichever you feel more comfortable saying). "Its my pleasure, and a great privilege to welcome each and every one of you here this evening. OR It is with great pleasure and an even greater sense of parental pride that I welcome you all here this evening/afternoon.
We are here to celebrate the marriage between my (eldest/only/youngest/second) daughter Monique, and Michael ___. Were doing that by sharing with Monique and Michael their first meal together as husband and wife.
Your presence here has made our celebration of Monique and Michaels marriage an event well never forget. So thank you one and all for being here. A very special thank you to all those who traveled from interstate or overseas to be with us".
3.Introduce your Toast simply and directly
"Before proposing the Toast to Monique and Michaels future health and happiness, I want to say a few words about Monique. Valerie (her mother to whom you may or may not still be married) and I have spent some time lately discussing some of the many wonderful ways that Monique has enriched our lives, and Ill share just a couple of those memories with you."
Calming your butterflies
If youre not used to making speeches in public, its more than natural and very normal, that youll be a bit apprehensive. Frankly, you may even be terrified. Even if youre normally the most confident person on Earth. I recommend that you consider investing in my downloadable programConquer Your Fears of Public Speaking. If that link doesnt work, the extremely long web address is www.conquerpublicspeakingfears.com. In that program, theres an entire section dedicated exclusively to proven ways to overcome nervousness, and to get those butterflies flying in formation.
"Valerie reminded me of a time when she and Monique were in our front garden in Maine. Monique would have been maybe two or three at the time. (Sets clear timeframe and context). Valerie had just laid some snail bait around her newly planted flowers and she thought shed better warn Monique not to touch the little green pellets. She explained as best she could without going over the top that the green pellets were not for people to eat. (Change your tone to capture the fact that this was spoken to a little child) "Theyre not for you to eat. Theyre poison to kill the snails wholl come along and eat all Mommys/Mummys flowers".
Valerie said that she recalls walking towards the front of the house while Monique stood near the floor bed obviously deep in thought.
Just before Valerie reached the front steps, Monique called out:"Mummy/Mommy". "Yes, darling" replied Valerie never anticipating what she was going to hear from such a young child: (Creates a sense of anticipation for the punchline).
"Mummy/Mommy, do you think it might be good to plant more flowers? Then the snails dont have to be deaded and we can still have lots of flowers in the garden?"
Needless to say, Valerie was flabbergasted. She had to admit that that was a particularly unusual but intelligent suggestion. When she told me that story again, I recalled it too because of course we talked about that evening – as we used to…"what did the kids get up to today?" I remember that we were both equally struck by the fact that we seemed to be learning from the child rather than the other way around. As I recall, we took Moniques advice because as has been the case so many times since, it was truly inspirational.
Ive chosen to tell you that anecdote because for me and for her mother it captures so much of the person Monique is, and always has been. As you know, shes a Civil Engineer by profession so we can assume that she thinks rationally and within accepted frameworks. But Monique is and has always been someone who can think laterally. I think the jargon term might be – outside the envelope. More than that, so much of her thinking is inspired by her profound generosity of spirit and her genuine concern for the welfare of other living things. Most of you know for instance that Monique has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Todays wedding breakfast however caters for people – her family and friends who are not vegetarian. And thats the greatest gift that Michael has won in gaining Monique as his wife. She is one of the most tolerant and non-judgmental people Ive ever known. If you need more evidence of that let me tell you that she never upbraids me for being a staunch and loyal Republican, although as we all know Monique supports the other team.
I cant take full credit for the wonderful person she has become today. Although she definitely has my wicked sense of humor, she has her mothers brains and beauty. (particularly nice to say, if youre divorced).
5. Make a positive welcoming reference to the Groom and his family
"Valerie and I are thrilled to welcome Michael into our family. Thats not just because he is a great Physiotherapist and were getting old and clunky. He is a splendid person and a great credit to his parents, Marie and Paul.
Obviously, I can say to Michael that longevity is in our genes, so we can readily wish him a long, long life of married happiness. And on behalf of everyone here, I do sincerely wish Monique and Michael a happy marriage. Based on my own marriage to Valerie, I also wish them a relationship together that has just enough conflict in it so that the resolution of that conflict forms the basis of a relationship made stronger and stronger by finding ways to respect each others differences, as well as their similarities.
To Monique and Michael."
The Best Mans speech
Assuming that you found my advice to be useful, please consider sharing it with the Best Man. You may or may not know the Best Man well. If hes the Bridegrooms brother or best mate (friend), then no doubt youve met previously. Then again, you may live in a different State or country from all concerned – including your daughter.
The Best Man will usually be twenty-five or thirty years younger than you, except in Hollywood where your daughter could be marrying someone older than you.
Under normal circumstances, he wont have had the same opportunities to speak in public as youve had, so make allowances for that. Again, depending on your occupations, he may have had a great deal more experience than you.
Depending on how well you know him, let him read these few pages saying that you found them useful. Im assuming here that there may be a Wedding rehearsal or at least a couple of casual meetings to arrange the day. You could certainly take the Best Man aside and over a cup of tea or (more likely) a beer, let him know that youre there to help. Tell him that you always find it helpful to jot down some notes of what youll say and that its even more helpful to practise at least once beforehand. Youd be surprised at what a surprise that is to most people – of all ages. Remind him, or reassure him that his role is straightforward. His formal role is to thank the Bridesmaids and/or Matron of Honour and the pageboy/flowergirl, and to propose a Toast to them. Suggest to him that he makes sure he knows the names of all those important people, and that he has the correct pronunciation of their names.
His secondary role is to tell us about what a wonderful person his brother/best friend Michael is. At most Weddings the Best Man forgets his real role and spends far too long telling embarrassing anecdotes about getting drunk in Junior High. Please, do remind him that embarrassing anecdotes are off the agenda. Be prepared for the fact that unfortunately, you cannot control that.