In a speech lasting five minutes or less, you need to:
1. Welcome everyone, and thank them for making the day so special.
2. Provide insights into your daughter as a unique and wonderful person.
3. Formally welcome your new son-in-law into your family and tell the guests how happy you are about the marriage.
4. Propose the Toast to the newly married couple.
TWO UNBREAKABLE RULES
1. NEVER tell stories that embarrass people
I’ll be very cross if I hear that you chose to tell anecdotes that you think are absolutely hilarious, but they make your daughter cringe with embarrassment. I repeat: telling stories that embarrass other people is never funny. Multiply that to infinity when it’s (a) about your daughter and (b) it’s at her Wedding.
2. NEVER tell the guests about how wonderful YOU are.
We don’t want to hear how generous you are as a person and a father. We most certainly don’t need to hear about your business success, your own marriage(s). You are not the centre of the day.
CONTENT OF YOUR BRIEF SPEECH
In your Toast you’ll tell all the Wedding guests one or two things about your daughter that makes 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, we’re not interested in her High School exam scores, except if she had to overcome some barriers to achieve what she did.
“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 Monique has changed your life and your wife’s life for the better. Talk to your wife/partner (ex-wife/ex/partner) about that, and come up together with your stories. To find examples that will make people really sit up and remember her as a unique human being, ask yourself the following questions:
* Has Monique ever volunteered to help other people?
* Does she stand out as a very generous person?
* What skill(s) does she have that sets her out from the crowd?
All of those questions let us know that the world been made a better place because your daughter is in it.
Don’t be afraid to ask one or two of her friends to help you out. They’ll be thrilled and honored to help.
Create a portrait of your daughter’s uniqueness through your words.
That automatically means no cliches. Particularly those that are so cliched, they’ve become recognised acronyms – GSOH, great sense of humor. Give examples about why you love your daughter’s
* Loyalty to family and friends, and
* Determination to follow her own path.
That special quality is a way for fathers to give positive recognition to daughters who vote Democrat in a family that votes Republican – and vice versa.
SIDE NOTE: DIVORCED, SEPARATED OR DECEASED PARENTS
If you’re divorced or separated from her mother who’ll attend the Wedding, please remember that your daughter’s wedding is a time for recognizing what a wonderful mother she’s been. 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 mother’s name mentioned.
FORMAT OF THE TOAST
1. Open with a welcome and vote of thanks to all the guests
Every person at the Wedding is a special guest and you need to convey that to them, by thanking them. A sincerely spoken, “Ladies and gentlemen, 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 ___. We’re 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 Michael’s marriage an event we’ll 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”.
2. Sometimes, it may be appropriate to mention special guests
Keep the list of those special guests to four or five at the maximum. Preferably one or two. It’s always better if those special guests have something in common which all guests will want to acknowledge and to celebrate. For example, if your grandmother is there, then obviously Monique’s great grandmother is in attendance. No one will be offended that you singled her out for special attention.
Your boss does not get a mention. At a Wedding, the real focus is on the Bride and Groom. Oh alright. If the Queen/President/Prime Minister is in attendance, please show due courtesy.
In general, only single out a person for special mention if they’re relevant to the Bride and Groom.
3. Introduce your Toast simply and directly
“Before proposing the Toast to Monique and Michael’s 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 I’ll share just a couple of those memories with you” .
SIDE NOTE: CALMING YOUR BUTTERFLIES
If you’re not used to making speeches in public, it’s more than natural and very normal, that you’ll be a bit apprehensive. Please consider investing in my downloadable program Public Speaking Success e-Program (http://ww.conquerpublicspeakingfears.com )in which you’ll find an entire section dedicated to proven ways to overcome nervousness.
4. Learn your speech by heart but bring your notes to the Big Day
Rehearse your presentation sufficiently so that you know your 5 minute speech by heart.
Write your talk out in full, including the introduction, and the names of your new in-laws. Then reduce it to notes or cue cards for each section:
* Welcome and thank you
* Special guests
Rehearse your complete speech and be absolutely ruthless with timing. If you’re running close to ten minutes at rehearsal, cut it back to four minutes. On the big day, you’ll have your cue cards, but you’ll be speaking off the cuff. You’ll definitely pause for the laughter, and to accept the applause. Ten minutes at rehearsal means at least twelve minutes at the event.
Please aim to be as brief as possible, that is, no more than five minutes. I’m hoping you’ll be as brief as your guests want you to be. Or as Dorothy Sarnoff the great keynote speaker, writer and speech Coach to US Presidents, put it:
“Make sure you’ve finished speaking before your audience has finished listening”.
Please remember: your guests are not there to listen to long speeches.