"When my daughter announced she planned to marry the groom I thought I had better carry out some background checks. So I went to his local police station and asked if he was well behaved. The sergeant behind the desk was very reassuring. Apparently they never had any bother with him ... whenever he spent the night there."

Somehow you can get away with very corny jokes at a wedding; jokes that would fall very flat at any other venue. Perhaps it is that often half the crowd doesn't know the other half. Or perhaps it is that everybody is trying very hard to be polite, and make it a happy day for the bride and groom. But really, I think it's often more likely that most guests have already had "one too many" and will laugh at anything that's said, even a very modest attempt at humor.

The father of the bride traditionally has a special place at weddings. Most likely this is because he was usually expected to be the host and foot the bill for the reception in times past. Shades of another tradition in some cultures and older times of paying a dowry, and the daughter leaving home to live with the groom's family, I suppose. The bill is often spread around a little more widely between the families these days. But it is still a wrench for a father to see his beautiful daughter leave home to live with her new partner. It's the public "giving your daughter away" tradition that makes it even worse. Many a father of the bride has secretly quickly wiped away a tear or two at his daughter's wedding.

This special place for the bride's father sometimes means he gets the role of master of ceremonies for his daughter's wedding, and must step in from time to time and say a few words to keep the occasion moving along. Sometimes this role goes to the best man, to another guest who is an able speaker, or even to a professional entertainer, if the budget stretches that far.

Whether or not he is the master of ceremonies, the father of the bride is usually expected to give a short speech at the reception. The pattern is fairly well established by tradition:

1. A few opening lines, perhaps with some humor to get everyone's attention.

2. Thanks to the guests for coming and to the supportive people behind the organization of the event.

3. Some comments about the day so far, such as flattering comments directed to the ladies.

4. A few personal comments about how it feels to be father of the bride.

5. A few affectionate words on the bride.

6. Perhaps some comment on how the romance started and blossomed into the marriage.

7. A welcome to the family for the groom.

8. Some comments on the couple's plans, a few words of wisdom and advice, and best wishes for their future together.

9. A toast (or two), to the couple and their future, and perhaps to mention absent relatives and friends.

10. A few closing lines, often as the host wishing everyone a pleasant time for the remainder of the festivities.

Putting together a successful speech comes easy to some, but it can be a big help to get a professionally prepared draft and checklist to work off. After all, giving a father of the bride wedding speech may only happen once or twice in the lives of most fathers. And there are few things worse than being told afterwards by the bride's mother that you completely forgot to mention Aunty Mildred's hard work icing the wedding cake!