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Tue 31 Mar 20 12:03
So, you’ve been asked to honour your daughter by giving a mother of the bride (MOTB) speech at her wedding. Where do you start? And what exactly are you supposed to say?
To ensure you’re covering all the bases, we've put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about how to write a wedding speech.
You must have some structure to your mother of the bride speech. As you know, all good wedding speeches start with an introduction. There’s no harm in making light of the pressure you might be feeling with a cool mother of the bride speech opener in the form of a joke. Be honest about how you’re feeling, or give a few details about why you’re giving the wedding speech.
Many of your guests will be close to the bridal party and know lots about the couple and about your daughter, but just as many will not know everything you’d like them to. Give them some light-hearted background as your intro and start everyone off on the same page.
After a line or two, move into thanking the guests for attending (feel free to make a joke about how great everyone scrubs up). It’s good form to pay special attention to those who have travelled some distance to share in your daughter’s special day. This is also the time to offer a special mention to anyone involved in the organisation of the wedding, such as staff at the venue, caterers, etc.
Paying tribute to those who can’t be there can be a difficult thing to get right – particularly if you are in the position of standing in for an absent father or male family member who has passed.
Be careful to ensure your tribute is touching but also be mindful not to overplay it or take too long addressing this section. You don’t want your tribute to dampen the overall jovial mood, so keep it short and sweet.
Although absent friends and family members should definitely be included, the main focus of the wedding toast is your daughter and son or daughter in law.
When you’re deciding what to include in a mother of the bride speech, a toast should always feature somewhere in the top of the list. It’s also potentially the easiest bit of your speech to write. You know your daughter better than anyone else and can rhyme off many embarrassing stories about her childhood or teenage antics.
While you’ll obviously want to give her a heartfelt tribute, do include a few funny stories to highlight how special she is and how strong your bond is. Rather than going for generic wording, really pay attention to personal anecdotes and tales that show her off as a unique individual.
Some great ideas of what to include are details of her first celebrity crush, how she met her husband, and funny stories about wedding fails or bridezilla moments. If your daughter and son or daughter in law already have kids, you’ll probably want to mention them at this point.
Your wedding toast is the perfect place to add in your best mother of the bride speech jokes (at the expense of your daughter) in the way that only you can.
As well as paying tribute to your daughter, next in line is a welcome to your newest family member. This is where mother of the bride speech jokes can really come into their own. Given the long-standing stereotype of difficult relations between MOTBs and their sons in law, this is the ideal time to make light of it. As long as you don’t reference any worries you might have about his or her relationship with your daughter, anything goes at this stage.
You might want to touch on what he or she puts up with, how suited you think they are, and how they've fitted into your family. Keep it all positive, but don’t be frightened about ribbing them a little. After all, by the time you give your mother of the bride speech, they’re already married.
It’s also good practice to welcome his or her extended family to the fold at the end of your speech. After this, it’s time to ask everyone to raise their glasses again to the bride and groom.
We don’t suppose we need to tell you to leave out any reservations you have about your daughter’s new hubby or wife. It’s also best to leave out any mention of previous marriages she may have had (unless they both have a really good sense of humour…).
Stick to jokes about your daughter and her relationship with the family and her partner, but leave out anything you think might be close to the bone or upsetting. You know your daughter well, so you will know where to draw the line. Always keep your humour light-hearted but don’t be afraid to give them both a bit of stick.
You might want to link up with the best man and find out what his speech might entail? This will give you both an idea of what each other is considering saying. You don’t want to tell a story about how your daughter met her now husband or wife only to find out the best man was also going to mention it.
You’ve probably heard dozens of wedding speeches in your time, so feel free to use these as a base. You’ve got a few minutes, at least, but you will have to be pretty brutal about what to include and what to leave out. While you don’t want to be rambling, you also want to include as many good jokes and stories as you can. The funnies might be expected from the best man or the groom, but we know you’ve got it in you to give them a run for their money!
The great thing about a mother of the bride speech is that it’s a break from tradition. While you might follow the basic guide for all wedding speeches, you can make up your own rules, too. A balance of sentimentality and humour will go a long way to making your speech a memorable one.
Split your speech into the sections we’ve detailed above to give it some structure and take it from there:
Writing down each section individually will let you see how long the entire speech will be.
Don’t hold back at this stage; simply get everything you want to say down on paper. Once you’ve done this, you can start to go through your wedding toast and either pad it out or, more likely, whittle it down.
The focus of the speech will be your daughter, followed by your son or daughter in law, so the bulk of your time should be spent in those two sections. The intro, thanks, and conclusion should be adapted to fit around this. Once you think you have everything you want to say and have enough humour and sentimental moments, you’re good to go!
In terms of the order of speeches at a wedding, it’s a long-held tradition that the father of the bride’s speech comes first. Historically, this was because the bride’s family had contributed the most financially, so they took the first slot. Nowadays, this isn’t always the case and things can be mixed up a little more. Enjoy that freedom!
If you can, we’d recommend trying to get in early in the order of speeches, so you can toast the bride and groom, get it out of the way, and then relax with your (large) G&T and listen to your son or daughter in law and their wedding party run the gauntlet making their speeches.
If you’re not used to public speaking, print out your MOTB speech and practice, practice, practice. For the first few attempts, you might want to time yourself to see how long it’s taking. Find a quiet place and test your voice saying it out loud.
When you’re happy with it all, practice on a friend or colleague (probably not a family member as you’re going to want your mother of the bride speech to be a surprise for everyone). They’ll hopefully give you pointers and a sense of how it’ll be received.
When you get laughter at your jokes and ‘aaaws’ at your mushy bits, we’d say you’ve pretty much got it in the bag.
If you’re struggling with some inspiration for your mother of the bride speech, we’ve included a few examples below to get you up and running:
Although you’ll be spending your time writing up your mother of the bride speech and considering all the things your daughter does to make you proud, you also want her to be proud of your effort (no pressure, then…).
If you break the process up into manageable pieces and then write, edit and practice it, then you’re well on the way to making your wedding speech memorable for all the right reasons.
Have a fabulous day and remember to breathe!
We would love to hear your ideas, faux pas and success stories for beautiful and unique mother in law speeches – so please do get in touch!
If your daughter is still looking for some wedding inspiration, then share a link with her to our top wedding idea blogs:
And if your own hubby is working on his father of the bride speech, then check out our guide to making it really special.
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