Good Afternoon everyone. For those of you that don’t know me my name is Keith and I am the very proud father of this beautiful bride.
Ladies and gentlemen I should probably make you aware from the very start that I lack any real practical experience as a speaker. Having spent over 25 years of my life living in a house with three women there have been few opportunities when I have been allowed to speak and even fewer opportunities when anyone has actually been listening.
I hope you will forgive me therefore if this speech is not as professional as the ones that are to follow as clearly this is a new experience for me.
I would like to begin by welcoming you all today and saying a big thank you from all of us on this table for taking the time and effort to join with us to celebrate Jenny and Nigel’s wedding. We know that many of you have made long journeys to be here today and we hope you have a great time in these wonderful surroundings.
Jenny...... there have been only three times in my life when I have been absolutely speechless. One was the moment I first laid eyes on your Mum all those years ago, the second was when I saw you today looking absolutely stunning in your wedding dress and the third was when you told me exactly how much it was going to cost me for today.
Now I believe that tradition dictates that a dad should share a few anecdotes about his daughter. I know that Jenny is particularly nervous about what I may say in this next part of my speech. After all it is part of a father’s job description to embarrass his children and I am particularly talented at it. But you can relax Jen I’ll wait until we are on the dance floor before I start today.
It’s is hard though on a day like today not think back to the day she was born. I can still picture it now ladies and gentlemen as if it were yesterday. Sylvia in the delivery room absolutely exhausted after many hours of labour, two midwives encouraging and cajoling her to give one last push and sat in the corner the delivery driver from Next with her very first parcel.
When preparing for this speech Sylvie suggested I should look through some old photographs of the kids for inspiration. One in particular stood out from the others. It was a picture of our little girl lying on a rug, in front of the fire, dribbling, gurgling and trying to take a few wobbly steps........Sadly It’s the only photo we have of her on her hen night so it is quite special.
Speaking of special Jenny. Your Mum and I are acutely aware of just how blessed we have been to have you in our lives and we hope you are aware just exactly how much we love you and how very proud we are of the lovely young lady you have become. It has been an absolute joy for both your mum and me to watch a very talkative, extremely inquisitive and often clumsy little girl develop into the very beautiful, clever, compassionate and extremely loving young lady that it was my absolute honour and privilege to escort down the aisle today.
Thankfully she does seem to have inherited most of her better traits from her mum and I am told only a few bad habits from her dad. You seemed to have got your mums kind nature and good looks and from me....well.......lots of people suffer from wind Jen.
Now like most fathers I was extremely protective of my girls and prepared to fend off any potential suitors. I took the view that no man was good enough for my girls and was in favour of capital punishment for anyone who tried to take them away from me. And so it was in this welcoming atmosphere of open mindedness that we were first introduced to Nigel.
From the first day we met him he has been an absolute credit to you Angela and Jim. He was polite, very well mannered and, damn it, an extremely likeable young man.
I know that tradition dictates that it is at this point that I am supposed to welcome Nigel today into our family but the truth is that from day one he has been like another son to us. By that I mean he used to leave his clothes all over the house, stay in bed until midday and drink all my beer.
It certainly didn’t take long for us to notice that Jenny was really smitten by this young man and when he started letting me beat him at golf and started complimented Sylvie on her cooking we knew he was getting serious too.
And then came the day that still brings a lump to my throat when I recollect how Jenny took me to one side and told me she had something really important to tell me. She said to me.............
“Dad.....Nigel’s going to become an electrician”
Well after that Nigel certainly had my vote as Jenny’s future husband. And to be fair to Nigel he did do things in the traditional way. We went out for a drink and he formally asked for my permission to marry Jenny and two bathrooms and a kitchen later I was more than happy to give my blessing.
You often wonder as a parent just how well your children will turn out. You wonder what sort of life decisions they will make especially those that you have no control over. What friends will they choose? Who will they pick as a partner to share their life with? Will that person love and care for them as well as you would? Will you approve?
Well for what it’s worth Jen your Mum and I think you have made a cracking choice.
Sticking with tradition I think at this point that I am also supposed to pass on some worldly advice to my new son in law to help him survive.... sorry enjoy......... his new marital status.
Well Nigel I have two bits of advice that I hope you will find of use.
The first is really to enjoy your honeymoon period and if you’re not sure what this is let me explain. This is the time in your marriage between “I do” and “you’d better”
The second is specifically based upon knowing my women as I do. I believe the words “Yes love of course you can buy it” may prove beneficial in the years to come in keeping her happy.
Ladies and Gentlemen I think I’m getting close to outstaying my welcome and I can see both the groom and best man eager to get on with their speeches.
I do however have one final very pleasurable responsibility to fulfil.
Jenny and Nigel, May your marriage be a truly happy one, may you begin with an unforgettable honeymoon in Hawaii and may you have a long and wonderful life together.
It is my very great pleasure to propose the first toast to the happy couple. So could I ask you please be upstanding and raise your glasses to the Bride and Groom.