Even if the idea of your little girl walking down the aisle makes you fight back tears, it's tradition for the father of the bride to give a speech at his daughter's wedding reception. If the idea of public speaking makes you tremble with terror, talk to your daughter about skipping this particular tradition. Otherwise, take some time to reflect on the life of your beloved daughter to pen a sentimental, heartfelt and perhaps even slightly funny speech.
To give a speech that does justice to such a momentous occasion as your daughter's wedding, don't procrastinate on writing it -- nor should you just slap some words on paper and call it a day. Take some time to pull out old photo albums and reminisce about her younger days. Recall the family vacations you took, how nervous she was on her first day of kindergarten and what she looked like when she lost her first tooth. Jot down some keywords about your feelings about life back then and how proud you are now. If your mind goes blank when you sit down to actually write, refer back to these keywords.
Pen to Paper
When you're ready to write, here's an outline to follow: Start with a cute anecdote about your daughter as a little girl. Don't humiliate her; stories about first boyfriends or wetting the bed are off-limits. However, a tidbit about her temperament as a baby or her first words are suitably adorable. Next, discuss what she was like just before she met her groom, and how's she's changed -- as long as you think it's been for the better. Finally, talk about how proud you are to be by her side on her wedding day. Keep the speech to between 700 and 1,000 words. When you rehearse it, the speech should clock in between 5 and 7 minutes.
Even if you think of yourself as the most capable of public speakers, rehearse your speech at least once or twice. During the first go-through, keep a mental note of how many filler words you use, including "um," "so" and "like," and aim to cut it down in future takes. Pretend there's an audience in front of you -- or ask other family members to sit in around the room to listen -- and rehearse speaking directly to them. Walk through the room, as long as you will have a cordless microphone available, so the group feels like you're interacting with them. Keep notes on a card to refer to, but don't read it word for word from paper.
At the Reception
A glass of wine might help you loosen up before your speech, but don't drink too much. Before the emcee announces your name, take a few deep breaths and picture yourself giving a wonderful speech. As you speak, articulate your words and resist the urge to rush through the speech. If you freeze up, refer back to your notes to get back on track. End by asking the guests to raise their glass to the happy couple -- giving a hearty cheer and congratulations to the newlyweds.