Well, following on from the theme of non-tradition, I thought it only appropriate that the bride speaks! Anyone who knows me well enough will know that it's hard to keep me quiet and today is no exception.
I feel privileged to be sharing our special day with most of the friends and family who have been important to us during our lives. Some of our guests have travelled from Somerset, London, Hemel Hempstead and Canada to be here today, so thank you all for the effort you have made to get here. Many of you have had to take time off work to part of today, so we thank you for that, we do appreciate the sacrifices some of you have made for us.
Of course, there are people who aren't with us today, who are greatly missed. My Granny, who passed away last year, would have loved to be here today, as would Darren's grandparents Sarah and Norman, and Joyce and Alec, who are also sadly no longer with us. Darren and I are thinking of them today, as I'm sure are their children, our parents.
Darren and I have been together over 5 years, and during that time we've been through a lot. He has so many wonderful qualities - charm, brains, beauty - are sadly the only ones missing!
But seriously, I would like to thank Darren for being the person that he is. He is not jealous, nor insecure, nor proud. He is welcoming to my friends, and is good company. He is funny, affectionate, and loving. He is laid back, and generous, and well worth breaking my knuckles for.
It means a lot to be Darren's wife after 5 years of being his girlfriend, and I'm sure he's happy now that he can start to let himself go.
Over the past few months, I've been gathering a few opinions about marriage:
Some say that marriage begins when you sink into his arms and ends up with your arms in his sink And others would say that marriage begins with the engagement ring, then there is the wedding ring and finally it ends up with all the suffer-ring!
A lot of people seem to think there is a big difference to your relationship once you are married. Someone told me:
Before marriage a man will lay awake all night thinking about something you said; after marriage he'll fall asleep before you have finished saying it.
They say that when a man holds a woman's hand before marriage, it is love; after marriage it is self-defence.
I know that our opinion of marriage today is a lot more positive, I hope that in 20 years time we will still have the same opinion - I'll keep you posted.
The main reason I wanted to speak today was to personally say thank you to some very special people who have contributed to today. We told my parents when we decided to get married that we wanted to pay for it ourselves, we didn't see why they should be footing the bill, and I'm sure they were quite relieved not to have to take out another mortgage. However, when they found out that we weren't planning on having much of a honeymoon, they insisted on paying for us to go away, and next week we jet off to Cyprus for a fortnight, our first holiday abroad for 3 years. So I would like to say a big thank you to them, and offer them a small token of our appreciation.
I would also like to thank my sister Catherine, for being my witness, I have a little something for her here.
The next person I would like to thank is one of my best friends. Her and her husband have been there for me over the years when I really needed them, and this thank you is not just for the help she has given me for today, but for the friendship she has shown me over the last eight years in Coventry. She not only said that they would pay for the wedding cake when we said we weren't budgeting for one, she has organised it all as well so I haven't even had to think about it. Lennie and Sanj, I love you, thank you so much for your help.
I would also like to thank my very good friend Ellen for organising the disposable cameras on the tables, another person who has been such a wonderful friend to me over the years.
I've got one bit of advice to share with you: If you think the way to a man's heart is through his stomach you're aiming too high.