29 December 2007, Dublin, Ireland
Good evening and welcome. Jane and I would like to thank everyone for coming and sharing our wedding day.
Now I should start by warning you all that everyone has told me I was not allowed to drink today until my speech. So I hope you all have a full glass because you can expect plenty of toasts over the next few minutes.
Jane and I are extremely lucky to have such fantastic family and friends from all around the world. Many of you have made an enormous effort to travel long distances to share our wedding day with us, from around Dublin and Ireland, from Australia, Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Ecuador, Austria and United Arab Emirates. We are honored to have you here and we really appreciate the massive effort you have made. You have all literally made our day by being here. And special thanks to Bapou (my grandfather) and Shirley and Grandpa Mccullough for being here, it means so much to us both that you are here today.
There are also a number of people who unfortunately could not be here today for a variety of reasons. My grandma who is unable to travel back in Rochester and my grandfather who passed away recently, my Yiayia, Grandpa and Granma Kettle, Granny McCullough, my sister in law Sheena who is expecting her second child in February and my niece Georgia and countless other family and friends back in Australia. Although they are not here in person, we know they are here in spirit and they are in our thoughts.
So I would like to propose another toast “To absent family and friends”
Now then, Jane. I am sure everyone will agree with me that she looks absolutely stunning, and I feel very proud and lucky to be able to call you my wife.
As I sat down to write this speech, I thought about how Jane and I met. It all started one morning back in June 2003 when we both started a new temping job. I remember thinking after about 30 seconds of training that this was going to be the most boring job ever. Around 30 seconds later, Jane whispered to me that this was definitely going to be the most boring job ever, and we formed an instant connection.
A few weeks later we went out one night. The evening was all going well, and we ended up at a 24 hour bar for a few early morning cleansing ales. After a while, Jane told me she had to “powder her nose” and gave me simple instructions to watch her bag. But at 6am nothing is simple and one is easily distracted. So after watching the bag like a hawk for around 30 seconds, I wandered over to the bar. Jane returned a few minutes later to find me in deep conversation with a guy who had a purple mohawk, and asked me where her bag was. As my mind slowly put “Jane” and “bag” together, I realized I had perhaps not been as diligent as one could be. A quick scan of the area and the bag was nowhere to be seen.
Of course, this was all very embarrassing as I was out to impress. Instead I was apologizing manically. However, my embarrassment was reduced a touch when we reported the bag stolen at the local police station. When asked what the bag was worth, Jane mumbled to the policeman “$5” no doubt hoping I was distracted again – but there wasn’t a purple mohawk in sight and I was back to my alert best at this stage, so I did not miss the policeman raising his eyebrows, looking at me and commenting “nice catch – big spender here mate”. As we headed home, Jane spent the entire taxi ride trying to make me feel better, convincing me that it was not my fault her bag was lost and apologizing to me for the whole mix up. At this point I knew I had met someone very special. So I told Jane that I forgave her for making me lose her bag.
Around 4 years later, I had finally built up the courage to ask for permission to marry Jane. I had actually intended to ask Denis and Ellie’s permission when they were in Australia earlier this year, and the opportunity arose one night when everyone else went to bed except for me and Denis. So we sat down with a glass of red and I was slowly moving towards the topic of marriage, but my nerves got the better of me. I turned on the TV and put the late night cricket on thinking I would delay the marriage conversation a minute or so. I was also hoping that if I slipped the question in amongst explaining the rules of the game maybe I could bore Denis into a ‘yes’. Unfortunately for me, however, the plan backfired, because short of industrial strength tranquilisers or hypnotism, I don’t think I could have managed to put Denis to sleep much quicker, and the opportunity was lost.
But a month or so later Denis rang, and after the initial chat I said to Denis there was something I wanted to ask him. The response was “oh yes” followed by a long silence. When I eventually realized it was my turn to speak and there was not going to be any banter from Denis to break the silence, I came out with it and asked Denis and Ellie’s permission to marry Jane.
Again, a bit of a silence, I can only imagine that Denis was momentarily enjoying hearing the sweat drip from my brow onto the phone, but in the end he said that he and Ellie would be delighted.
So after receiving the all clear, as most of you know, I took Jane to the Grampians mountain range in north Victoria, took her up to the highest point called the Pinnacle and asked her to marry me. Obviously silences are not genetic because she immediately blurted out “are you serious… oh my god are you serious” a couple of times. I said I was. There was then another couple of “seriously” thrown in for good measure and I was beginning to wonder if I should point out to Jane that at some stage it is traditional to answer this particular question with a yes or a no. However, in the end there was no need, and Jane (eventually) made me the happiest man on the planet by saying yes.
Essentially, my role in organizing the wedding more or less finished at the top of the Pinnacle. From that point on, all the credit for today and this evening goes to Jane. She has done an incredible job organizing the wedding and has spent so much time and effort making today special, not just for us, but for everyone here. Not only did Jane plan the wedding, she planned events prior to and after the wedding, booked hair appointments and restaurants for guests and arranged functions so that all visiting friends and family would feel welcome in Ireland. She discussed everyone here tonight with me and thought of ways how to make sure you all had a great night. And all of this is a reflection on who she is and why I love her.
Jane, you are the most thoughtful, generous, kind and beautiful person I know. Thanks for looking after me, for making me laugh, for making me bacon sandwiches on Sunday mornings, for making me so happy and thank you for marrying me. I love you and I look forward to spending the rest of our lives together.
There are many other people for me to thank tonight, starting with my parents, who have been married now for 35 years.
Thank you for the way you have brought me up and for giving me the perfect start in life. You have always been there for me and supported me, and you have given me everything and have been unbelievably generous and loving. I could not imagine having better parents.
Jane and I thank you for your efforts in helping bring the wedding together and for the love and support you have shown us over the last few years and will continue to show us. We both love you very much. And special thanks to mum who spent hours putting together the bomboneras.
The next people I have to thank are Denis and Ellie.
I actually looked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website when I was writing this speech, and found the following interesting statistic – that 1 in 23 Australian males under the age of 30 suffer from varying degrees of soceraphobia, which is defined as the persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of parents-in-law.
Bearing that statistic in mind, my first encounter with Denis and Ellie was actually via my brother Marcus, who visited Jane in Dublin and met the “in-laws” before I had. I gave the boy simple instructions for the visit – don’t embarrass yourself, don’t embarrass me and don’t embarrass the family. Well, as far as I know, he arrived, put his bags down, and within minutes of his arrival went to relieve himself, blocked the toilet and flooded the entire downstairs bathroom.
Despite Marcus’ best attempts to destroy the McCullough household and turn me into just another statistic, when I did meet Denis and Ellie for the first time, although I was somewhat nervous (which was not ideal since I had decided never to use their bathroom), they immediately welcomed me into their family and they have been absolutely fantastic to me ever since.
Denis and Ellie, I know it cannot be easy for you with Jane living in Australia, but you have always completely supported our relationship so thank you for your support - without it we would not be getting married today and it means the world to us. Thank you also for raising Jane to be the woman that she is, for welcoming me into your family and for the kindness you have always shown me. I feel extremely lucky to have found Jane and equally lucky to have you as parents-in-law.
And on behalf of everyone here tonight, a massive thank you also for your hospitality in general and particularly for this evening. I know how much time and effort you have both spent organizing the wedding and you have done an amazing job.
May I propose a toast “To Denis and Ellie”.
To the bridesmaids, you all look gorgeous. Thank you Elly and Rucelle for being such great friends to Jane and supporting her and making her feel at home in Melbourne, and for all your efforts in bringing today together.
Thank you Stephanie and Cathy for all your help organizing the wedding, for hunting down the rarity that is a sugar coated almond in these parts of the world, for organizing Jane’s hen’s night and for being such great friends and supports to Jane.
Another toast “To the bridesmaids”
To the groomsmen, my brothers Evan and Marcus, and Luke, although it was a bit dodgy for a while there, particularly when the ouzo surfaced, you managed to get me through my bux night alive. You also managed to get me to the Church on time and to keep me from being a nervous wreck all day. Thank you for being such fantastic brothers and mates and for doing me and Jane the honour of playing such an important part in our wedding.
Finally, for those of you who have not yet met him, my best man is James. He also answers to Jabba most commonly, as well as Jabatinski, Punti and Wee Man. He is famous for his ability to quote Yoda and Darth Vader, demolishing ridiculous quantities of pork since his time living in Austria, and for drinking steins and playing darts for around 1 whole year in 2003 without feeling the need to work… or exercise…
He has also been my best mate for around 19 years now, through which time he has always been there for me and been a brilliant friend.
Jabba, thank you for being such a great mate and for all your help with the wedding. I am honored to have you as my best man.
So now I will hand you over to Jabba. But before I do, there are 3 things I need to remind him of before he gives his speech tonight:
(a) You are not yet married.
(b) As Yoda once said “see through you, we can”.
(c) You are not yet married.
Thank you all for listening and once again thank you for being at our wedding. Jabba...