My fiancé and I are getting married in August, but we're having some issues in regards to toasts and speeches at the reception. Currently, my fiancé's father is planning on speaking. Neither my fiancé or I ever asked him to do so, he's just decided it's what he wants since he's paying for a majority of the wedding.
To make matters worse, we never would have asked him because he's terribly awkward and is known to tell inappropriate family stories. He's long winded, too! I'm terrified that he's going to go on for an hour and completely humiliate us. My fiancé would prefer we just take our chances, rather than tell his dad "no," but I just can't bear the idea of him talking. How can we compromise on this?
— No Speech Please Paula
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Dear No Speech Please Paula,
This is a very difficult situation, and I don't blame you for being worried. I've seen many weddings where a painfully long or uncomfortably told speech put a damper on the dinner. As far as tradition and etiquette are concerned, if the father of the groom is contributing in the wedding then he is usually expected to offer a thank you to the guests and some words of encouragement to the bride and groom. Instead of asking him not to speak, which will surely be offensive, I think it might be better to come up with some other solutions.
Discuss some of the anecdotal stories he can use that are funny but not embarrassing, and ask to hear his speech beforehand. If he wants it to be a surprise, tell him that the wedding planner needs a copy of it in order to set aside the proper amount of time at the reception. You can also have your fiancé's mother join him in the toast. If they give it together she'll be able to watch for time and steer him in the right direction should he stray from his speech.
As for the worst-case scenario, ask the best man or another trusted family member to jump in if things get too uncomfortable. Even if he is completely awkward, do keep in mind that as long as his heart is in the right place everything will turn out fine. You'd be surprised how easily an embarrassing story can become an endearing one when it's told at wedding.
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