Some people love to talk. They will talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. They will talk to themselves. They'll talk to the mirror. They talk to pets as though they're human. These same people, believe it or not, will sometimes find themselves completely tongue-tied when it comes to speaking in a public setting — such as a wedding-related gathering. If you'd like to give some sort of speech at your daughter's engagement party or at her reception, but you're finding yourself breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it, read the following pointers on how to pull this particular task off without a hitch.
“Is This Thing On?”
First, you need to decide what it is you want to say. Since this is a whole new phase of life that your daughter is entering into, you'll probably want to touch on the past and marry that vision to her future. To that end, you'll need to come up with some happy or funny memories, and you'll need to find a way to incorporate those into your good wishes in your toast.
For example, a man who has a stubbornly independent daughter might make mention of some blatant examples of how she has expressed her autonomy over the years, but will conclude the anecdote by mentioning that her new husband must be someone very special for her to want to share her life with him. A father who is toasting the marriage of his mild-mannered daughter might take a different tack: He might mention how he's cared for his little girl all these years and how happy he is that she's found a husband that he trusts to take over for him.
What you decide to say will be personal (the best speeches are); it's
The order of speakers at a wedding reception, according to traditional etiquette, is as follows: best man, father of the groom, father of the bride, groom, bride, friends and relatives, maid/matron of honor, mother of the groom, mother of the bride, and anyone else not previously mentioned.
If you speak to large gatherings often as part of your work, consider yourself lucky. Chances are, you've fallen into a routine of preparing yourself mentally and physically for the job, and offering a toast at your daughter's wedding will not be an anxiety-inducing event. If you never speak to more than two people at a time, however, garnering the courage to address an entire reception hall filled with friends, family, and strangers might seem like a daunting task.
Fear not, Father. You can do this. Some tips:
Start early. Think about what you want to say at least a month before the event. You'll be leaving yourself plenty of time to edit and rewrite your speech, if need be.
Write it down. You may know exactly what you're going to say, but on the off chance that nerves get the better of you when you approach the microphone, it's best to have a written reminder of the points you want to hit.
Practice. Yes, it's an old trick, but an essential one. Stand in front of the mirror and read your toast. Try not to stare at your index cards the entire time. Get your wife to listen. You'll get a feel for how the speech is coming along.
Less is more. Feel as though you're going on and on and on? You probably are. Wedding toasts should be kept to several minutes (two to three) at a maximum. Your guests will be waiting to eat, and you don't want a riot on your hands.
And remember the Golden Rule of Wedding Speeches: no negativity of any kind. Yes, everyone knows how much you love her and how hard it is to let go of your little girl. It's all right to touch on that (briefly), but keep in mind, this day isn't about you and how you're feeling. Always end on a positive note — a look to her future, which is just brimming with hopefulness and happiness.