Word Count: 1819
For those of you that don’t know me I’m Mark and I am Nora’s dad and as the father of the bride I have the dubious pleasure of making the first speech – I am the warm-up act for the star speakers and their words of wisdom – the Groom and Best Man, Caleb and Matthew.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank all of you for being here today, especially those of you who knew that I’d be saying a few words – it’s very touching that you still decided to come.
Distinguished guests, those of dubious distinction and those of no distinction, family, relatives, in-laws and outlaws, young and old, friends, friends of friends, freeloaders, and hangers-on – let me extend a warm welcome to Nora and Caleb’s wedding reception celebration. Winston Churchill was apparently asked to address a prep school and he got up and said, “Never, Never, Never give up!” then he sat down. Well, you are not going to get away quite as easily as that, but I will try to be brief. I’ll be like Kylie Minogue – short and entertaining!
Today I am the proudest man in the whole world. Seeing your daughter looking so happy and radiant is a truly amazing experience, but it is tinged with a little sadness. For those who know me well, being generous does not come naturally to me. It fazed me just a little in the ceremony when I had to give her away.
Wedding days are meant to be unforgettable and this one certainly will be. I, for one, won’t forget how heart-warming it was to see two super people like Nora and Caleb making their vows to each other this afternoon. I won’t forget how proud it has made me feel to be the bride’s father. And I won’t forget what a pleasure it is seeing them now, sharing the happiness of their great day with all of us.
I would like to welcome every one of you here as you have all played some part, however small, in the lives of Nora and Caleb and are valued because of that. Your presence here today is important to them.
So important, in fact, that in the run-up to today Nora and Caleb had a bit of an issue with the seating plan because they really couldn’t decide who to put where. So as a father of the bride, I offered to step in and help work something out. What we finally decided was to use the wedding present list, and put those who bought the biggest items nearest the front, and work back from there. So if they can hear me at the back over there, thank you to Russell and Barbara … for the oven glove…… (Oh! and Caleb says “can he have the other one for their first anniversary?”)Many couples say that their wedding day is the best day of their lives. But not Nora and Caleb. That happened a few years ago when their beautiful daughters Ellie and Grace were born. And as for Ellie and Grace, every day is the best day of their lives, because they have a great dad and the most wonderful mother in the world.
Nora has been like a ray of warm sunlight on my soul from the day she was born. Now, she begins a new life and there will be another man to whom she will turn to for love and protection. But I want her to know that her father will always be there for her.
A wedding is a time for joy and fun, with friends and family gathered to see the happy couple off as they start their new life. But it is a time, too, when our thoughts inevitably turn to those people who have meant so much to our families but could not be here today. So let us raise a glass to Nora’s mum, my darling wife Melanie, Caleb’s sister Wendy and both sets of grandparents, who we remember with love and pride. To absent friends.
Let me just say what a wonderful ceremony it was. Being Scottish myself, I had been hoping that we might be wearing kilts today. But Caleb was very keen to wear a suit because Nora will be wearing the trousers as of tomorrow. It has though provided me with my first opportunity to wear a skirt in public . . . . . . . . . . . since a pretty emotional period in my early twenties.
Nora only gave me one instruction about what to say today. And the message was clear “Dad … please don’t embarrass me.” Which meant that I have had to scrap ninety percent of my speech.
Caleb has made a big mistake today. No … fortunately, not that one. He’s chosen to have a particularly funny best man. I have a feeling that Matthew will include a few acutely embarrassing stories so it only seems fair to lace my praise of Nora with a little humiliation for good measure.
I raise my glass to honor my daughter on this her wedding day. It is hard to find the right words to express the depths of my feelings. She was a perfect daughter, (Nora you’ve spelled perfect wrong) and I am sure she will make as fine a wife. I am filled with a curious mixture of joy and wonder. Joy at the happiness I see in her eyes and wonder at the miracle of seeing my baby grow from a little girl to a beautiful woman.
Nora was a really ugly baby when first born, in fact, I was quite shocked when she was first handed to me – until the nurse turned her the right way up.
As you know, Nora’s life is best described as ‘action-packed’. I have no idea how she fits so much into a 24 hour day. So I have absolutely no chance of summing it all up within a five-minute speech. With no time to take you through her entire life story – here are a few snapshots.
As a child Nora achieved the unique distinction of being run over twice – by the same car, ending up hospitalized and on traction for many weeks.
Nora is fiercely competitive – an accomplished equestrienne, that’s horse rider to the uninitiated, – a team player – hockey, netball and rugby – a half-marathon runner – charity fundraiser on many occasions – and backpacker. She has been known to jump out of a plane at several thousand feet with a man strapped to her back…
Nora is for want of a better word – sociable, interpret that as you will.
But more than anything Nora is passionately family orientated and caring, and very emotional.
Nora is a truly special girl. She is honest and loyal. She may appear vulnerable … but the velvet gloves certainly hide a steely core. And I know that she is adored by us all.
Nora, there is so much more I’d like to say about you. But I believe that my time is up. You look incredible today. You are a beautiful woman and a wonderful daughter. You have married a terrific man. And you will make a perfect wife.
I hope I’ve managed to communicate just what a smashing daughter I’ve got. She’s passionate about what she believes in. Intensely loyal to her friends. And full to the brim with affection for the people she loves. In fact, Nora has inherited many of her mums’ traits, and personality, and her good looks. I’m sure that had Melanie been here today she would undoubtedly have been the proudest person here.
Now I know that I am at risk of being the bragging father here, so I should add that Nora hasn’t always been perfect – but you don’t make a big deal of that on the brides’ big day.
They say when a man holds a woman’s hand before marriage it is love; after marriage, it is self-defense. Talking of marriage Nora and Caleb are alike in many ways. They even chose the same day to get married.
It is now my duty and a great pleasure to formally welcome Caleb into our family. I say ‘formally’, because he’s already made himself at home with us and to all intents and purposes has long been in the family – and if I can court danger for a moment, I may say, Caleb, now that you’re actually married to Nora, you’re are well and truly in it. I should also like to welcome Marie, Hazel and Gary and their respective families, as well as Adam, Calebs’ son and third best man, – after me and Matthew!
If there’s one quality that my son-in-law has in abundance, it’s loyalty. And it’s a loyalty that he’s had tested beyond belief through the last 25 years of broken dreams and betrayed trust … as a West Ham fan. So Nora, you can rest assured that however you behave over the next 25 years, Caleb will stand by you.
Caleb early on let her know who is the boss. He looked her right in the eye and clearly said, “You’re the boss.”
Now you wouldn’t have thought of Caleb as being immature – but a few weeks ago I suggested to him that we really ought to sit down and talk about the wedding to which he replied “ What? In the middle of the conker season!” Welcome to the family Caleb.
I won’t bore you with lengthy pieces of paternal advice regarding marriage and life together – this world is entirely yours, and it is only you two who will determine its rules. I am sure that you will build a reliable family hearth, a cozy nook where you will feel at your ease and which will give you strength to withstand the storms and challenges ofthis way, let me only wish you tolerance and love.
As one wise man once said, “a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person”
Mark Twain also wrote: “No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.” I’m lucky enough to have experienced such a marriage. And I can only wish the same for Nora and Caleb.
I can’t stress enough how proud I am today, and how good it is to have you all here. I hope you have a fabulous time this evening.
Now it is my pleasant duty to propose a toast to the happy couple and I know that everyone here will want to join me in raising your glasses in a toast to a long, happy and healthy future together, filled with the sound of laughter.
Here’s to the past, for all that you’vethe present, for all that you share. Here’s to the future, for all that you look forward to together. Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding and raise your glasses to the Bride and Groom … Nora and Caleb…The new Mr. & Mrs.