5 December 2015, Richmond, Melbourne, Australia
Hello everyone. My name is Alan and on behalf of my wife Deb and the groom’s parents, Marlene and Frank, I’d like to welcome you all here today and thank you for coming.
Thanks especially to those who have travelled far to be here today. (list a few) I think, in fact, that the farthest travellers are the bridesmaid Alice, who had no choice, and her delightful Englishman, Henry. So welcome back to the colony you two.
But we’re so glad you could ALL be here today to help us celebrate the union of this wonderful couple Phoebe and Leigh.
They didn’t rush into it. Took their time, got to know each other really well and then Leigh even asked me for my daughters hand in marriage, which I didn’t expect, and was quietly chuffed about. I’m afraid I didn’t do that with Deb’s dad, and rather wish I had.
On the subject of marriage – we are living through a pretty interesting time, in which what you might think were two very different trends are happening simultaneously.
The traditional wedding has made a comeback at the same time as the very non-traditional wedding, between people of the same sex. The common thread, of course, is love. I think old-style weddings between otherwise modern couples like Phoebe and Leigh have made a comeback because love has – strong, committed, long term love.
When he asked me if he could marry Phoebe, Leigh made it clear, in his endearingly low key way, that he loves Phoebe very much, and I know Phoebe loves Leigh.
She always had unusual taste.
The first food she loved as a toddler was olives, which she called erdelers and she ate one after the other. Is Leigh an unusual taste – is he an erdeler? I’ll let you judge, but I doubt that he’s extra virgin.
Let me tell you a bit about Phoebe Elizabeth Kohler, our first born child.
The first always do it a bit tough I think. They’re the ones we practice on, and Phoebe was no exception.
But she was such a happy kid that it didn’t matter. She stayed happy, always laughing.
Phoebe has had many nicknames. She’s been Sweet Pea, Pee Wee, Pippy Longstocking, Phoebe-liz and the Feebster but the truth is her name is usually mispelt in wild and wonderful ways.
She was born at the Queen Victoria hospital in the city after a 36 hour labour, during which I nipped out for Chinese takeaway and didn’t understand why bringing the fried rice back into the birthing suite caused so much aggravation.
Look, I always tried to be a good father. As soon as Phoebo could sit, I put her on the back of the bike and nipped down the shops to get some bread, leaving bikeand baby propped against the window. I do remember watching Phoebe slide down and the strangers picking her up and there was hell to pay when I got home just because her dress was all dirty. Young mothers can be sensitive creatures I soon learned.
Phoebe was an excellent Brownie, a terrible basketballer, an immovable hockey goalie, a very good trumpeter and her first pay packet for a day’s work was a box of red capsicums.
The stingy owner of the fruit shop at Point Lonsdale tried to fob the capsicums off on her off for a week’s pay but at 13, she would not have it! Instead she got a couple of dollars. Now she’d probably take the capsicums and make peperonata because as a cook our Phoebe is second to none.
She is without a doubt THE messiest child in the family. And when she got her first car, a blue mid eighties Telstar, she transferred the stuff under her bed to the car to drive it around, as a sort of mobile under the bed. The Telstar couldn’t be locked so required some vigilance in protection. One night Phoebe caught someone rifling through the various contents of the back seat so she hid behind the hedge, yelled ‘BuggerOff!’ and watched the thief escape with a couple of CD cases and half an ancient souvlaki. It happened again and again. Not much to steal was the thinking.
Phoebe has always adored a party but they can have a way of ending badly. One night she was dancing in the backyard grooving away under the starsbarefoot and she decided to kick a tennis ball but instead slammed into ground and broke one of herbig toes. Accidents, they’ve been a few: she fell off the Glenferrie Road tram once and broke her foot, and removed her finger tips on the ham slicer at the Prahran Market.
I always knew she was diligent and conscientious but when she worked 16 hour days for Jones the Grocer, a herculean effort, she nearly ruined her back. None of it has been pretty, but she’s still here. A brave and wonderful soldier from what Joni Mitchell would call the petty wars.
But the Phoebe who I walked down the aisle with this afternoon was the same happy kid she was as a toddler, laughing often and completely, not holding back, and she was happier today than I’ve ever seen her.
Dads probably always say this, but I thought from a young age that she’d be a good partner – supportive, tolerant and fun to be with.
I wondered what sort of bloke she’d end up with. She never talked much about boyfriends and never really brought them home, preferring to shield either them from us, or us from them, not sure which, although I did get the sense that there was a succession of interesting, if fleeting characters.
Leigh, she brought home. Hullo, we thought, this one’s serious.
Turned out he barracked for Essendon. Tick.
Drove a white Mitsubishi Magna. Tick. (Solid car - not a flighty sports car type like her dopey dad).
Loves yum cha. Tick.
And most importantly he obviously loved Phoebe – he could see in her what we did. Tick.
So welcome to the family Leigh. We love you and really like having you with us.
Please join me everyone in raising your glass to toast the bride and groom.