Hands down, the most moving and memorable speech of the day is often the words said by the father of the bride. License is usually given to take more time than the other speeches, and the secret hope is that daddy will exhibit some of his normally guarded emotions as he speaks to his daughter. You may even speak of your reluctance to be "losing" your daughter, as all there will understand this emotion.
Long before even the week of the wedding approaches, you should be thinking of what it is you might want to say. Begin writing rough drafts that final week. It is thought that the father of the bride is the person with the most free time during the hustle and bustle of planning and putting on a wedding. If this is true for you, take advantage of these moments to be composing your speech.
Be advised that you do not want to try and speak off-the-cuff, thinking you know what you want to say. Even experienced speakers become disconcerted when they are speaking as the father of the bride. Do not take the chance of forgetting everything you intended to say, or speaking in circles trying to capture your sentiments. Having a prepared speech in front of you can save you from squandering this special opportunity to gift your daughter with thoughts that will last forever.
You are in a unique position this day, and it is expected that you will be experiencing some very strong emotions. Share them with your daughter, her new husband, and all of the wedding guests. Revisit her childhood, retell some savored memories. Best keep the humor and chiding to a minimum and concentrate on tender and heartfelt. On this day as never before, your daughter is officially joining the ranks of adulthood and deserves to be treated with a new respect.
Be sure to include the groom in your speech. As head of the family, you will want to welcome him. This man is going to be responsible for the happiness and well being of your daughter and you want to get on his good side as much as he does yours. Express positive hopes and wishes for him and your daughter as they begin life together.
Now that you have your speech prepared, think about the presentation itself. After you have arrived at the reception, know that you will shortly be heading into the spotlight to deliver your few words. You may think you are in complete control, but do not be surprised if you become overwhelmed by the emotions of the day. A wise father of the bride will carry a just-in-case tissue for those unexpected tears. If they come, do not be ashamed or try to hide them. Those tears may be very meaningful to some.
Remind yourself to relax and not rush through your speech. Locate your notes in an accessible pocket (remember the cliche scenes of the best man fumbling for the rings). Compose yourself. Glance yourself over for appearances. Take a drink of water and a deep breath. You have planned what you want said, and don't want to skip over anything.