I would like to start by saying, on behalf of my Mum, Stephanie and myself, what a real pleasure it is to welcome Simon’s family, our family, friends and everyone in between that that join us here in celebrating Hannah and Simon's special day. I know that many of you have travelled a long way to be here.
I’d like to say a particular thank you to my Aunty Kath who has a phobia of car journeys and would have needed to be sedated to make it down from Yorkshire. I’m glad to see you made it and that they managed to bring you round in time for the ceremony!
I’d also like to say thank you for everyone involved in making today special – I know that over the past year Hannah & Simon have put in a huge amount of planning and effort to make today a relaxed and laid back celebration and I am sure you will all agree it has been an incredible day so far.
It seems that even the weather has been planned to ensure the perfect day.
Although this a joyous occasion, I cant let this moment pass without saying we all know we would all rather have our Dad up here today giving this speech. I know that if were still with us he couldn’t be any more proud of Hannah than me and Mum are right now at the fantastic person she has grown up to be. I know too that he would have been delighted in the prospect of having Simon as his Son in Law.
As I have the pleasure of being the first of the speeches I get to be the first to officially congratulate the happy couple and to tell Hannah how very beautiful I think she looks today. I don't want people to think I am showing favouritism. – Simon…you look magnificent too!!
As Hannah’s brother, it has been a true privilege to be able to walk my sister down the isle today and watch her exchange vows at Hullavington church. The church has a lot of memories for the **** family and it was fitting for it to be the starting point for such a new happy chapter in our family history.
Standing up here now looking at Hannah I can hardly believe that she’s my baby sister! There are nearly 10 years between us and id always wondered if she was a happy accidental addition to the family – Well as it turns out Hannah had been planned all along and it was me that was the unexpected one!!
It is fitting at times like this to think back on notable moments in my sisters life that have impacted on me.
My sister has never been one to crave the centre of attention but when she does she does it in style. As a small child she decided to wander off in her green quilted romper suit for a walk on her own. Not until half the village had been drafted in to look for her and we were all beginning to panic did she decide to toddle back home as if nothing had happened!
Simon, you will be pleased to know that she has not continued this Houdini act into adult life!
There is also episode in her early years regarding chocolate buttons that Hannah has asked me not to mention. On account of the fact that she has far more embarrassing stories about me I will honour that wish – but I’m sure if you buy her a glass of champagne later she’d be potty not to tell you! I have it on good authority that Simon still has a packet of buttons tucked away for those difficult occasions!
It seems only yesterday that I was driving Hannah to primary school in my first car - a rusting 1975 Vauxhall Shoveit with tasteful red vinyl seats. Hard to believe now that my tall sis used to need a cushion to see out the window and to stop her from slipping off the seat! She used to love those journeys listening to my rather dodgy collection of 80’s tapes which is why to this day she has a love of Duran Duran than isn’t normal for a 28 year old!
Growing up with an older brother clearly has had an effect over the years as my sister is fully aware of the plot of Star Wars and has a love of action movies over romantic comedies – a fact that I think Simon should thank me for on a daily basis.
I have to say that she wasn’t a tom boy though as she also had My Little Pony collection large enough to open a stables with and was a huge fan of Boy George with a life sized poster adorning her bedroom wall! I would like to stress for the record that neither of these traits were anything to do with my influence!
In later life Hannah successfully went to University and got a 2:1 in her degree – another proud moment in the **** family – even if it did mean she beat my grades!
Hannah wasn’t all that keen I remember to give up the life of the student but I managed to coax her into the world of work by applying for a job at **** – or the family firm as we liked to think of it as both Dad and I had worked there over the years!
I am pleased to say that she has not only found a job she enjoys but also a husband which I think you will all agree is not a bad days work!!
For those of you that know Hannah well you will know she’s a keen lover of animals and misses being surrounded by pets as she was growing up - even now I know she’d get a puppy tomorrow if the room could be found at home.
Well Hannah – you now have a Simon instead - who thinking about it has many of the characteristics of a puppy – full of enthusiasm, always playful and friendly and always wins over everyone they meet. I just hope he also doesn’t chew the furniture or wee on the carpet!!
Not having Dad around has made us a close family and it is a real pleasure to welcome Simon into the fold – Having been outnumbered by both my Mum and Hannah over the years I’m grateful at last the additional male support!
When I first got to know Simon it was when we worked together long before he met my sister. I remember one particular day we had a meeting in Colchester which involved a 6 hour round trip and seemed to involve a lot of talk about mountain biking. A subject I know nothing about at the start of the journey but by the end I felt I was qualified to downhill Ben Nevis! I thought back then he was a good guy, little did I know then that one day he would become my Brother in Law. I seem to remember I got us a McDonalds burger on the way back. If id known one day you were going to take my sister off my hands id have got you the fries and drink as well!
Joking aside, Simon is one of the most genuine and considerate people I have met and I can honestly say I have never known Hannah to be happier than in the time they have been together.
It is clear to me as to everyone that knows them that they are soul mates that compliment each other perfectly and as cheesy as it sounds I couldn’t have asked for a better man to marry my sister.
It is traditional on these occasions to end by giving some advice to the married couple. I can’t draw on the experiences of my own illustrious married life.. just yet but I have unearthed a few words of wisdom on this complex subject.
If you want something from Simon, ask for it. Remember, Simon is a man, hints do not work!
I’m going to borrow the words of Oscar Wilde, “Women are meant to be loved, not understood.”
Marriage will bring you many things, loyalty, self restraint, obedience and a whole host of other virtues you wouldn’t have needed had you stayed single.
And most useful piece of advice I can give to you to maintain a long and happy marriage - always remember to put the loo seat down after you!
On a slightly less irreverent note…to you both…
Marriage in this day and age is far from easy - With all the external pressures of day-to-day life - you will need to grow together in mutual trust and understanding - whilst not losing sight of what first brought you together - In other words - may your love be modern enough to survive the times - yet old-fashioned enough to last forever.
And so finally….it’s my very great pleasure…. to propose the toast to the happy couple. Ladies and Gentlemen …will you please be upstanding ….and raise your glasses…………. to the Bride and Groom.