I have had a number of requests from people asking for a copy of my wedding speech to Greg and Liz. I am a little reluctant; blogs can quite easily become an exercise in vanity and self-promotion as it is, and I do not want to feed that monster. But I can’t remember all those who asked, and don’t have addresses for others, so please forgive the following post and feel free to ignore it if you didn’t ask and have no interest. For those of who who already think my egotism knows no bounds; relax. My wife hasn’t finished with me yet (see below).
I want to thank you all for coming. It is nice to see so many friends and relatives here from Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto and London. The prize for having travelled the greatest distance goes to my cousin Rosalind who came all the way from England to attend our daughter’s wedding. Thank you Ros for that.
This is the moment when the parents of the bride welcome the husband of the bride into the family and give him some warm parental advice about the woman he has married and about marriage in general. After 33 years, I think we can say that we have learned a few things about the institution of marriage; although not as much as some of you. In fact there is one couple here who just last month celebrated 60 years of marriage. We would like to acknowledge Lil and Stuart McLellan for their faithfulness to each other for so many years. They got married when they were twelve, that’s why they look so young.
We are here this evening to wish Greg and Liz all the best as they embark upon marriage. Marriage, as those of us who have been at it for a while, has a transforming effect on a person. None of us are the same for having lived with another person and been shaped by the person we have lived with. That isn’t always a pleasant process, if we are honest. Change is never easy, and changing who you are is the hardest change of all. Helen Rowland, an American writer and humourist, said that “marriage is the operation by which a women’s vanity and a man’s egotism are removed without the benefit of anaesthetic.” It can be a painful business.
It is also a necessary one. For none of us enter a marriage being the kind of person who is ready to endure a marriage. All of us need to learn, some more slowly than others, that marriage is not a union of equals, but rather a union of unequals. You will find that both of you are unequal to the task of building a lasting relationship with each other; that is why it will take both of you, learning from each other, leaning on each other, supporting each other if you are to succeed. Do not run from the struggles of marriage: embrace them; grow in them; draw nearer to each other through them. The Lord who made you both and drew you together had a purpose in doing so. He wanted to make you into the kind of person that would be a blessing not only to the person you married, but to everyone around you as well. It will take Him a lifetime, but if you are willing and patient, and above all forgiving, He will make your marriage a blessing to you both and to all who are touched by your lives.
Now to the business at hand. Greg, we are supposed to say a few things to you about the woman you have married. We want you know before we start that we have given careful consideration to what we are about to say, and have thought through all the important variables. We know that we need to be careful, because you are not only younger and stronger and very much quicker than we are, so we want to be careful on that score. But even more importantly because we know that you are going to speak next, and there is no rebuttal round in wedding speeches.
And the first thing we want to warn you about is that Liz has remarkable powers of smell. One time at a church yard sale Pam bought some things for Liz that other families had donated to raise money. When Pam got them home Liz held one of the dresses up to her nose and said, “This one smells like the Starkey’s.” Picking up another one she said, “and this one smells like the Lancaster’s.” So if you ever get a notion to go fooling around she is going to know about it the minute you walk in the door.
I also want to say that I am grateful that I never taught you. You see I taught in St. Thomas, which is very small town. I used to like that when Liz was little, because everybody knew me. I’d walk down the street and every kid of school age would know who I was. It would be Mr. Wise this and Mr. Wise that. It was very nice. Then Liz got to the age when she started dating some of these guys I taught. This made it a little complicated. Especially as Liz seemed to have some kind of radar or closed circuit TV or something. There was a time there for while that it seemed like every time I had to speak to some boy in class about misbehaving, or send him down to the office, he’d show up that night at our door saying he had a date with Liz. It would always be, “Whoa, Mr. Wise, didn’t know you lived here. Hey Dude, is Liz home?” I never knew whether to let him in or give him a detention. So I am grateful that I never had to go through that with you, and I know that Liz is grateful as well, aren’t you sweetie?
So this leads us to the next bit of advice we want to give you about our daughter. Liz is more faithful to her friends than anyone we know. In fact I would be willing to bet there is not a single one of Liz’s boyfriends who would not on this day be willing to come to her wedding and wish you the best. That is the way she treats her friends. I know her friend Chonie would say the same thing. You see Chonie wanted to go out west, to Calgary, to look after horses. So Liz went with her, even though she knew next to nothing about horses, because that is what friends do. I want you know that Pam and I pleaded with her not to go. She went anyway. And look at how that turned out for her.
So we just want to say publically “Honey, we were wrong, and you were right. And we’ve got that written down here, so we won’t forget it.” You know Pam and I were scared sick for her when she left all by herself in that little Pontiac Sunfire, her stuff piled in the trunk and the backseat so high you couldn’t even see Liz behind the wheel. And I know too that the first winter in Calgary was awfully rough; it was bitter hard. But she stuck it out, and that is another thing you need to know about her. She is one determined young lady, and she won’t give up just because things get tough. I think you know that about her already.
It is important to know, because as happy as this day is for both of you, you must know that things are going to get tough. Ask anyone out here who has stuck by their spouse through thick and thin and they will tell you that the difference between making it as a married couple or ending up in divorce or separation is sometimes just the ornery stubborn cussedness of not letting go of the other. Don’t let go of her, Greg. If we know anything about our daughter it is this: she won’t let go of you. Tough it out; forgive and forget. You have thought carefully about this marriage; you have considered all the angles. The best part of you knows that this is the best decision you will ever make. Don’t forget that when the hard times come. When they do, remember who you are, remember who she is. Remember the promises you have made to each other this day. See the best in each other, and learn to forget the rest.
Finally; Listen to each other. Especially listen to the things the other doesn’t say, but yearns for. Liz you listen to the things that Greg needs from you, and will have trouble saying: he needs your respect above all; he needs your consideration; he needs your tenderness. And Greg you need to listen to what Liz needs from you. I wish I could give you a list: but I don’t know what is on that list. Men are a lot alike; we are simple creatures and the list is pretty short. Women are all different, and they are far from simple. So I can’t tell you what Liz needs, and here is the hard part. A lot of the time, she won’t know either, but she will be counting on you to figure it out, and provide it. I wish you all the best with that!
Marriage has been designed by God to call us out of ourselves and teach us to love what is different. Being bound together in a marriage, sharing our homes, our things, our beds, even our bodies, forces us to respect and appreciate someone who is radically different from who we are. We need to be called out of ourselves because in truth we are incomplete. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to yield to the other, to make room for another, and by doing so find happiness, joy and fulfilment. God never promised us a life free of trouble, but He did promise to be there in the midst of it to help us if we called upon Him. Make room for Him in your marriage, and it will be His great delight to bless you.
And now the toast; Greg, Pam and I most gladly welcome you into our family as our son in law, and we wish you and Liz all the happiness that a loving God will give, all the joy that your experiences will bring you, and all the satisfaction that you will find in knowing that in all the craziness of this life, the two of you have found the one you want to share this crazy life with: to Greg and Liz.