The groom's speech


I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to present this speech. Having done a lot of research, finding out that sometimes people present it in the form of a poem or a song, you'll be pleased to know that I do recognise the limit of my talents, and the last time I tried singing one of my neighbours called the RSPCA thinking that I was torturing a cat. So I got thinking, maybe I could present it IN THE STYLE OF BRIAN BLESSED, which may well have got some laughs but more likely would have ended up damaging your hearing. So, I thought, what's the easiest thing to do that's most likely to have people laughing and falling about on the floor… and I thought I'd just dress up silly instead.

I'd like to start by thanking you Rod for your toast and kind wishes, and to you and Wendy, Pamela, Rob, Bev (and of course not forgetting the most important people, Lightning, Orchid and Frisky) for welcoming me into the family.

Family, friends, work colleagues…speaking on behalf of both my new wife and I (and making the most of it whilst I can), thank you all for joining with us here on our special day. We're delighted that you were able to come along and be part of the celebrations, which of course have only just begun.

Carolyn, what can I say? You look lovely today. As much as I hate secrets and it was so difficult not knowing anything about your dress, the wait was worth it - stunning, as I'm sure everyone here will agree. I've gained a beautiful wife who is warm, loving, caring and easygoing (sorry I can't read your writing, what does this say?) who always has time for other people, with a great sense of humour and you have gained… erm… a nice dress and a bunch of flowers. Thank you for marrying me and making me the happiest man in the world today. As I'm sure Carolyn will tell you, I am often wrong. But in marrying Carolyn, I know I have made the right decision.

Some years ago, my grandad wrote out part of his life story, and up until now, I've never really understood his 'closing words':

"I don't know why it is but a woman looks her finest on her wedding day, she positively glows, - whereas the groom apart from the silly grin on his face, looks the same. The thing I remember is standing at the altar, with brother George as best man, and hearing the rustle of a wedding gown and the footsteps of my future wife - and life - coming closer to stand by my side."

Although Carolyn is probably just as often by my side in Azeroth, as we now play World of Warcraft together - yes, I bet you didn't know she was an online gamer now, there's a lot of surprises in this otherwise shy person I've been pleased to discover over the last couple of years - but Grandad's statement makes so much sense now. I think Carolyn has surprised herself a little too with how creative she's been in all the preparations too, particularly with the lovely favours which I know you'll enjoy in due course. She also worked on the table centrepieces, although I did help too with the ribbon - if yours has a nice neat ribbon on it, she did it, if not, I did it. Without wishing to sound too much like Bruce Forsythe, "didn't she do well"?

You may well remember Gary's reading earlier on today during the ceremony, and be aware of all the horror stories you hear about wierdos meeting on the internet, you're looking at two people that prove such stories are false. Well, some of the stories anyway. I'm certainly no mad axe murderer… at least, I've never harmed an axe in my life.

For those of you that have known me for some years, I'm sure you would agree with me that perhaps I'm not always the easiest of people to get on with. Whether by design or pure luck, Carolyn is one of those strange people that seems to be able to get on with me, which I guess has to be a good thing. We do seem to be very well suited though, often thinking of the same thing, and frequently

CAZ: (completing each other's sentences.)

It has been said that "Love isn't finding someone you can live with, but finding someone you can't live without" and I'm very glad I found you. To be honest, our relationship can be summed up nicely in a little quote from the internationally acclaimed academic, Dr Seuss, who wrote "We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

Of course, our backgrounds are very different - Carolyn coming, sorry arriving, from posh, commuter belt Surrey where the oiks drive tractors, and me coming from deepest, darkest, agricultural Somerset, where everybody drives tractors… erm… anyway... When I was born, the well known rock classic "Schools Out" by Alice Cooper was number one. Carolyn's birth number one? "Long haired lover from Liverpool".

Carolyn's birth was fairly straightforward, late evening, almost on time, relatively uneventful (although delayed by an hour or so due to Wendy's refusal to go to the hospital, despite labour pains, until after dinner - apparently stating "I'm not having my baby until I've had my Lancashire Hot Pot").

I arrived two weeks early, mid afternoon, and as my grandmother was on holiday at the time, my dad phoned through to the hotel, and found out that she was part of a group that had gone to the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth to see a show. The hotel rang there, and as they couldn't identify where she was sitting, the manager decided the best option was to announce my arrival to the entire theatre from the stage in the interval of the Val Doonican show, in the hope that she'd hear the news. I'm pretty sure there aren't many people here that can claim that one - but don't worry, I'm not to going to start singing "Paddy McGinty's Goat" to you. Yet.

Now I don't know if you remember the words from one of the pieces of music we played earlier, "Once I believed that when love came to me, it would come with rockets, bells and poetry", well on this occasion it arrived on the 09.07 Southern service from East Grinstead.

It was at 10.04am, on Friday 24th July 2009, that we first met "irl" (that's internet shorthand for "in real life", in case you had one), having corresponded online for a little while, at the barriers of platform 8 at London Bridge station. Thankfully we did recognise each other - and although I was nervous, Carolyn was perhaps even more so, although she did cover it well. However, it soon became quite apparent with how at ease we both were within just a short while that although we had only been talking for a week, this was not just "a date" but perhaps the start of something special, leading to what we have celebrated just a few hours ago.

Those of you that have read our engagement story on our website will know that I proposed to Carolyn during a trip on the Chichester Canal, on the first anniversary of that first date. The canal boat was called "Egremont", and what we didn't realise when we chose our wedding date that today is actually the 744th annual Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria. Strange how these things come together, isn't it?

It's often at this point in the Groom's speech that he presents his new wife with an extravagant gift. I did email lots of people to try and get some great ideas but only received one reply - "I am out of the office until Wednesday and will deal with your email on my return". Undaunted, I started to look on the internet to see what others had done for their new wife. Often it's something as big as a new car - which would be a little silly really because we got a nice car last year. So I thought, what about something for it like a personalised number plate. I had a look at prices and realised it was way beyond budget. So I settled for the next best thing, which I hope you'll enjoy… a picture of a car with a numberplate featuring your new initials.

Secondly, you might like to open and read this little card that we received a few weeks ago.

(give card in blue envelope)

Seriously though I would like to make a little presentation to you now, Carolyn, so Sammi and Leonie, can you bring the box over please and Carolyn open it.

This rolling pin is a family heirloom. Back in ancient times (well 1971 when my parents got married), they were given this rolling pin as a wedding present, along with a fan heater, egg poacher and an orange footstool. In the fullness of time, it was passed to me (well actually mum got a new one, but that doesn't make it sound quite so romantic). I now pass this to you, "Mrs Down" and hope that in time we will be able to pass it on to the next generation too. Now, ladies and gentlemen, take a look at this rolling pin. I bet you think it's just for making a pie, but there's much more to it. Two handles - one for the bride, one for the groom, as I don't know if you've ever tried rolling pastry with one end but it doesn't really work; however together we can manage a lot more than we can individually. It's round, like our rings, no start and no end, symbolising the love that we share, with a smooth flat surface representing the path we hope life will give us. Using both handles and a little pressure, life's little bumps can be overcome just like those in a piece of pastry, and if life gets a little sticky, dust it with the flour of love, and we'll be just fine. Life is a journey, just like the one a rolling pin takes, as we roll through life's challenges together… and the end result is always worth it.

I've never really understood all this 'raise your glasses' thing with the speeches, because when I raise mine I can't see a thing. It would possibly take forever to thank all of those that have had some sort of input into making our day what it has been, so I hope those of you I've forgotten will forgive me - but of course our thanks go to…

- The ladies of the bridal party - Bev, Kelly, Andi and Leonie. I know that you've put yourself through so much, with all the dress fittings, makeup, hair trials and all these other things us guys just don't understand to look almost as beautiful as Carolyn does today. Thank you for supporting her in the run up to today and for making everything go so smoothly. Ladies and gentlemen, a toast to the bridesmaids…. The bridesmaids!

- The men of the bridal party - Duncan, Robin, Andrew and Sammie. You've done a great job of organising people - we haven't even taken the electric cattle prods we bought out of their boxes yet - and I'm sure it'll continue throughout the rest of the day. It is a stipulation for most weddings that the ushers aren't allowed to look better than the groom and I'm pleased to say they have accomplished their role admirably. Cheers guys to an awesome job! The guys!

- Thanks again to Andi for making such a wonderful job of doing the bouquets, buttonholes and corsages, for Pamela and everyone else who helped this morning in setting the rooms up. Wendy and Pauline for your lovely work on the cakes which we'll all get to sample later, Stuart and Paul, for our blessing service, and Sarah for the song. I should also thank all the 'behind the scenes people' that make this day so special - Roy for handling the music, David and Debbie for the video work, the hotel staff, John, our photographer, the band who you'll be hearing later, the staff at Hampshire Register Office, Bob at Croydon Ikea, and many others. Raise your glasses!

- Finally, I should also thank all our friends at the Hitched wedding forum that have enjoyed the roller coaster journey that is wedding planning with us, for their invaluable help in sharing ideas that have helped us shape our day, and in particular our 'date twin' users, vikmast, Lauraks, natw0603, gsijane, Gabs, giggler em and knitting_vixen who have also got married today. Our date twins. It's tradition on the forum to post 'good luck' messages to users getting married, and I've printed out our messages which is over on the card table if you'd like to have a read.

Now, it's traditional that throughout the speeches that the ladies of the bridal party sit there quietly smiling and looking pretty, pretending not to be bored whilst the men waffle on and on and on and on and… - but that doesn't really seem right, does it, so I'll hand over to my lovely new wife for a few minutes to give you a break from listening to me.

(Caz say something)

Of course, I also need to thank my parents as without them I wouldn't be here in the first place. Whilst my mum has never been one to use 5 words when 20 will do, and has followed in granny's footsteps in being able to talk for Britain if it was an Olympic sport, she'd like to say a few words too. I hope you're sitting comfortably, and we'll pause for a short break in about 45 minutes.

(mum say something)

Last but not least, of course, thanks must go to Duncan, my Best Man. Well, the best I could find that was available and within budget anyway. But seriously, thank you for all your help in the run up to today, for getting me here nice and early with breakfast at that famous Scottish restaurant chain, McDonalds, and for not leaving me upside down, naked, painted green, tied to a goat and handcuffed to a lamppost in the middle of the M27 last night. Although I was adamant I really didn't want a stag night, as excess alcohol, humiliation and suchlike was really not my thing, but he organised an excellent day out for a few of us on the Bluebell Railway, with a guided tour round parts of the railway that aren't normally open to the general public, so thankyou again Duncan for ensuring the only stripper I encountered was for paint during the tour of the Carriage Shed!

For some strange reason, tradition dictates that the Groom has to present his defence before he's had the opportunity of hearing the Best Man making the case for the prosecution. I have no idea what stories he is planning on telling you about me, although he might thrill you with our railtour escapades, but as my character is so unblemished (having said that, I do actually have a police record - Walking on the Moon - and several of Sting's solo albums) but for entertainment purposes he might have to resort to making something up, particularly about that time… actually, he may have forgotten that one. So please take anything he tells you with the appropriate quantity of salt, providing that it isn't going to cause a world shortage. However, I'm sure he'll have plenty of nice words to say about me though (hand over wodge of fake cash) Ladies and gentlemen, over to Duncan… and what was that, drinks are on you?