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A very good evening ladies and gentlemen. I’m Mark and I have the undoubted honour of being the father of this blushing bride and in case I should forget, Natalie has had it printed on my socks! However, I’m fully aware that my main function this evening is to warm up you, the audience, for the star performers who will speak later. So, if you’re not too impressed with what I have to say, I can assure you it will only be because I don’t want to give these guys too hard an act to follow!
Today is, of course, a celebration, but not just of the love that has united Natalie and Tony in holy matrimony, but also of the families that have created, moulded and influenced the lives of these two special people. So my wife, Grace and I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Sarah and Jordan and their family and to relatives and friends of both families. Thank you all for joining us in celebrating this very special day.
[drizzle]We’d also like to offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to those who have worked so hard and long to help put this day together, particularly Tony’s sister Julie, whose contribution really has been invaluable. This is a day that Natalie and Tony will surely cherish for the remainder of their married lives together.
Looking back, I clearly remember our wedding day being the proudest day of my life, until 9 March 1985, when I witnessed the birth of my first daughter. Now, I was already feeling rather nervous, but just for a moment I really thought I was in the wrong delivery room when that little, black head appeared….you see I‘d completely forgotten that babies were born with hair and Natalie had more than Johnny Depp!
Well, that seems like only yesterday. Since then there have been many more proud days along the way notably the birth of Natalie’s sister, Lauren, who is one of the lovely bridesmaids here today. I feel extremely lucky and humble in being able to say that I have two wonderful daughters and seeing them here together gives me great pleasure and reinforces the deep sense of pride I already feel today. Indeed, earlier as I accompanied Natalie to the church there could not have been a prouder man and as we walked side by side to the altar I thought, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that Natalie looked absolutely stunning … and Tony, well he looked absolutely stunned!
Of course, fathers are naturally biased where daughters are concerned, but in Natalie I see an independent, intelligent, beautiful young woman, a daughter to be truly proud of. A daughter who, throughout her life, has always been ready to face a challenge. From the time when, as a young child learning to swim, she decided to put her inflatable arm bands around her ankles Idid say ‘intelligent!’…. and became an instant expert at snorkelling – to more recent times when, having already earned her degree, she went back to university to qualify as a teacher – in today’s world a challenging career indeed, but one which she pursues with a determination and commitment, for which Grace and I have nothing but admiration. Some would say, however, that she’s about to face her biggest challenge of all……which brings me to the other half of this partnership.
During the time we’ve known Tony we’ve come to realise how much he means to Natalie. He is a smart, kind, thoughtful and generous man and according to Natalie, the untidiest s *d she’s ever met! Even so, when you see how gorgeous Natalie looks today, it proves the one thing I’ve always known about Tony – he is clearly a man of vision … occasionally blurred, sometimes double, but nonetheless a man of vision who’s been lucky enough to find my daughter. So it’s a pleasure, Tony to formally welcome you into our….looking round….apparently, very small family and I know it’s a cliché, but I would like to say that today we haven’t lost a daughter, we’ve gained an expert in rock crushing machinery – every family should have one! We are also delighted to welcome into our fold two extremely nice people without whom Tony wouldn’t be here today. No, I don’t mean the best man and the taxi driver, but Tony’s parents, already our valued friends.
Now, it’s cusTonyary on these occasions for me to offer the happy couple some worldly advice on marriage. As is the fashion today, Natalie and Tony have already set up home together and are living in a very nice house on the outskirts of Nottingham. In my day, things were rather different we were not so forward, in fact we were very innocent. On our Wedding day Grace and I sat up all night waiting for our sexual relations to arrive… Joking aside, there is much I could say on this subject, but I particularly recall the words of Oscar Wilde, who said “Women are meant to be loved, not understood” and as someone who has himself been married for nearly forty years to one of the loveliest women I have ever had the good fortune to begin to understand, I still can’t pretend to have all the answers, but in my view ….
Marriage is very much like driving along a road, yes…. a road
It can be nice and smooth
Sometimes it can be slippery
There can be obstacles in the way, and
You can go round in circles
Conditions are sometimes bumpy and you can’t see through the mist
But think, before you cross the line, be aware of all the signs
And most important of all… GIVE WAY
My 5 point plan for making a marriage work is:
Love and respect one another
Be honest with each another
Keep talking and listening to one another
Give each other some space
And trust one another …………….I KNOW BECAUSE I READ IT IN A BOOK.
Now, I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t keep you very long – but just before we toast the newly weds I’m reminded of a little tale about a Priest and a Minister who once shared a table at a wedding reception. When offered a drink for the toast the priest asked for a large whisky. The Minister on the other hand declined, saying “No thanks, I’d rather go with a scarlet woman than touch the demon alcohol”. The priest promptly handed back his whisky and said “I didn’t know I had a choice”.
Obviously I don’t want to offend anybody, so to those members of the Clergy present,[/drizzle] I apologise. If there’s a scarlet woman here, I’ll meet you in the bar in 10 minutes! Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you – please keep applauding. I’ve got a very weak finish … or so the wife tells me.
Finally, there is a saying, which goes something like ‘Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry,’ and I believe there’s a great deal of truth in that. So, Natalie and Tony, may your marriage be a truly happy one, may it begin with an unforgettable honeymoon – which, Tony you’ll find is the period between “I do” and “You”d better” – and may you both have a long and wonderful life together.
Ladies and gentlemen would you please be upstanding and raise your glasses for my very last few borrowed but heartfelt words:
WHEN CHILDREN FIND TRUE LOVE,
PARENTS FIND TRUE JOY.
Natalie AND Tony,
HERE’S TO YOUR LOVE AND OUR JOY,
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD.
TO Natalie AND Tony