AUGUST 31, 2013

speeches & toasts

speeches & toasts

speech coaching

speech coaching


Driven by the desire to deliver a speech as good as Spencer Tracy’s final monologue in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, this father-of-the-bride wanted a speech that was family oriented, touching, and made every guest feel included.

Glenn’s speech is also featured in the first half of Keisha and Brandon’s wedding video by Gregory Michael Productions:


Glenn’s father of the bride speech:

Good evening everyone. My name is Glenn Okamoto, and I am proud to be Keisha’s father. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Strawberry Farms on this very special day.

Before I talk a little bit… well fine, a lot, about Keisha, Brandon, love and life, I’d like to offer a few special thank yous: Dan and Carrie Hay, would you stand up? Thank you and your family for both sharing your son Brandon and for welcoming Keisha into your lives with warmth and support. I couldn’t be more pleased to call you family.

I’d like to thank the Walters, the Greys and the Tampkins too. Keisha was blessed with a second set of parents in you. You supported her with your love, your time, your examples and most importantly, your laughter. And thank you to my family and relatives. I raised such a wonderful daughter because of your love and support when I was growing up.

Finally, to Keisha’s mother, Mary, and her stepfather, Jim: Thank you for your love, compassion, and joy for our daughter. Keisha, you have an incredible role model in your mother. She knows the meaning of perseverance and of loving life.


As I’ve known her literally since the moment she was born, I’d like to tell you a few things about Keisha. She has always been naturally intelligent, creative and determined. Keisha learned to dance to Michael Jackson, learned to sing to Earth, Wind and Fire, and coordinated her brothers and me on the “proper” way to execute Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Always the director, never a stagehand – Keisha was a regular Gladys Knight and we her Pips.

While in college, my baby girl occasionally got homesick enough to call me from her dorm late at night. We’d talk about everything from studies to boyfriends to the future late into the night. On the subject of boyfriends, I distinctly remember Keisha telling me one night, “Dad, I just want to find a normal boyfriend.”

Responding to that was challenging. I searched back to what my own father told me when I was younger and life felt rough. He loved to use the Japanese concept of “Gaman.” Gaman means “to persevere, to have patience and discipline, to tolerate, and to endure.” I imagined the look of “ugh” Keisha would give me had I given this exact token of wisdom, so I softened the concept a little: “Time and God will provide when it is the right moment,” I told her.

I have to admit, that answer did not go over much better with her than “Gaman” did with me. But, that’s one of the many bittersweet parts of being a parent – you get to dispense completely truthful tidbits of wisdom without receiving even the slightest appreciation from your children for years to come.

(Smile, pause)

My meeting Brandon began like any good romantic comedy: I initially wasn’t too keen on the man who rang my doorbell. Brandon’s arm was in a cast – we couldn’t even shake hands! This was surely not the “normal man” Keisha had wanted. I looked up to the sky, asking God why my daughter couldn’t find herself a man with two good working arms.

God must have heard my prayer. Within the hour I found out that Brandon had hurt his arm playing baseball, and as you can see today, he has two arms that work very well. In all seriousness, it was clear right away that Brandon was a great person. He is a natural born leader who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk of what he believes. And as an immense compliment to him, I can say that Brandon has the compassion to always listen to Keisha, the intelligence to know what is important if they disagree, and the courage to stand by his convictions even if they differ from hers. These are two very smart, well-spoken individuals who challenge each other and have been fortunate enough to meet and find great love in each other.


Keisha – in the spirit of one of my favorite movies, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” I would like to expound on one of my favorite monologues, as this is probably the last chance I’ll get to pontificate to you with a microphone in hand. Perhaps you would think that I’m a burnt out old shell of a man who cannot even remember what it’s like to love a woman the way that Brandon loves my daughter. But, I know exactly how he feels about her. There is nothing that he feels for her that I haven’t felt in my life. Old? Yes. Burnt out? Never. But I can tell you the memories are still there. Clear, intact, indestructible, and they’ll be there if I live to be 110. And so it is with this knowledge in mind that I pass along my advice to you as you begin your long lives together. First and foremost: the only thing that matters is what you two feel, and how much you feel, for each other. If it’s half of the love I’ve known, that’s everything.

You will have ups and downs in this life – individually, and as a couple. No one is flawless and no couple lives in a perfect wonderland. But look around you. Imagine that the people here today are part of a giant jigsaw puzzle. By working together we’ve helped create the picture of Brandon and Keisha through our encouragement, love, and advice. When times are rough, remember that you have this support system of friends and family who will be there for you for the rest of your lives, and for whom you will return the favors of friendship, contributing to their own unique jigsaw puzzles in return.

Remember too the importance of Gaman – patience, perseverance and discipline are vital. But also make room for passion, faith and fun. With these values you’ll always find balance throughout your long, loving marriage.


Now, it is my distinguished honor and privilege to propose a toast. Brandon, Keisha: you are two wonderful people who are blessed to have met the person who completes you, complements you, and makes you the best version of yourself. I could not be more proud of you both.

May the two of you laugh together often, love each deeply, and find happiness every day of your lives together.

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