The Groom Speech

 
AFJR wed 460C
The Randolph Hotel, Oxford on 30th June 2018

Hello everyone.

Thank you, Guillermo and Graciela, for your kind words and for a wonderful speech. I can certainly testify to Andrea’s energy levels! Thank you for welcoming me into your family. Thank you for raising two exceptional daughters. I know how important family is to Andrea, she always talks about you, her sister and her grandparents.

Paola and Francois, our honeymoon will be spent attending your wedding in Montreal in August and we absolutely cannot wait: two Feinberg weddings in a year, I think come September your parents will deserve a long holiday.

I was once told that you judge a man by the company he keeps and that one of the biggest compliments you can pay someone is to say to them, ‘I like your friends’. Well, all I can think as I look around this room is that Andrea and I must have done something right in our lives to have assembled a guest-list of this calibre. We are honoured that you have joined us here today. If you’re not mentioned by name in this speech (and that’s most of you), please be assured that Andrea and I are exploding with gratitude that you have travelled to join us today from: Australia, Argentina, Canada, Spain, Italy, America, Israel, France, Ireland, Switzerland and of course from all over the UK.

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Nos gustaria dar las gracias a todos y cada uno de ustedes por acompanarnos en este dia muy especial para Andrea y yo, esperamos que se la esten pasando bien.

Misha and Xavier, thank you so much for coming all the way from Australia – it means the world to Andrea and myself that you are here.

Danilo, my Italian brother. You have been saying to me for the last ten years, as I moved from place to place, that I needed to put some roots down – and I have finally done so. Mi carissimo amico. Tu mi hai sempre detto: ‘Jules, devi mettere radici da qualche parte. E finalmente, C’è l’o fatto.’  

My other friends from Italy, Ciaran and Dona, if you hadn’t given me a job back in 2012 then I would never have ended up in Oxford and wouldn’t have met Andrea – so thank you both for that!

David, thank you for looking after the music at the Union today, and thank you for being such a good friend. Tom, Andrea and I are looking forward to our visit to Cornwall.

My old school friends from Merchant Taylors School in Crosby: Nick, you’ve been such a loyal friend over the years and we have shared a lot of laughter. Fred, we actually played rugby together at Waterloo Rugby Club whilst we were still at primary school which I think makes you my longest standing friend in attendance here today.

Dave and Sarah – we had a lovely time attending your wedding in The Lake District and we’re so happy that you’re here with us today.

Antoine – it’s really great to see you. Thank you for all the times you hosted me at your apartment in New York.

Phil and David – I really wish that Phil could be here to celebrate with us. I miss him dearly.

Andre and Julie, this visit to England has been threatened for a very long time and we are so pleased that you are able to join us here today. Camp Greenbrier in Alderson, West Virginia holds a very special place in my heart and you both, perhaps more than anyone else, represent what that place means to me.

Peter, Cathy, Neil, Lee, almost 12 years ago, I walked into a church hall in Southport on a Sunday evening and I met you lot and life started to change, for the better. It’s taken a lot of meetings, a lot of phone calls, a lot of fellowship and friendship to get to this point. Nobody ever said that it was going to be easy – but they did say it would be worth it and it has been. Thank you.

Quil, thank you for the bible reading at the union – and thank you for being such a good man. It’s always been a privilege to call you a friend.

To my Best Man: Tim, thank you for all the support that you and Sophie have given us and thank you for organising a brilliant stag-do in Wales. Tim, your loyalty and relentless enthusiasm has always been an inspiration to me. We have been through a lot together. I’m so pleased that your parents are here too. Thank you, Mrs Jones, for the countless lifts home from school and for always having what I remember as being the best stocked fridge in the history of childhood. Mr Jones, thank you for the kind words of encouragement – and good advice that you have dispensed over the years.

Tim and Quil, you were my rhythm section when we played in a band together in high school – and since then – you have been my rhythm section in the musical of life. Thank you.

I always felt incredibly lucky to be the youngest of five children in a Liverpool-Irish Catholic family. To my brothers: Sean, Kiron and Patrick: Ever since I was born you’ve looked out for me, supported me and encouraged me. When I was younger Sean took me to music festivals, and helped me to learn to play the guitar. Pat and Kiron, whether living in London or Leeds or Bristol or Bath would always tell mum to put me on a train and send me to wherever they were, and I remember as a teenager that there was nothing better than spending a weekend staying with my big brothers. You’ve always been there for me whenever I’ve needed you. And I was so proud of my brothers at the stag-do in Wales. Clad in wetsuits, all pushing 50  – it was a bit like Indiana Jones meets Waterworld at the Crash and Splash Aqua Park in Snowdonia. I couldn’t wish for better brothers.

And my sister Liz. Well, let me tell you something about my big sister. She’s the most generous person I know, and she and her husband Mike do so much for our family. For the last fifteen years, every year without fail, my sister has taken her little brother to Clarks shoe shop in Liverpool and bought me two pairs of smart shoes. Yep, exactly like a mum does for a child at the start of a new school year. She has now, quite rightly, arrived at the conclusion that at the age of 37, I should really be buying my own shoes. And who can blame her for that? Up to this point at least, there have always been two women in my life: my mum and my big sister.

To borrow a line from Bill Kenwright, the two most important words in the English language are ‘me mum’. Mum, I spent the first twenty odd years of my life doing the opposite of what you told me to do and then then the last fifteen years realising that things might have been a lot easier if I’d listened to you in the first place. My Mum has always supported me, and ever since dad died, she has given a hundred percent to the cause. My Mum was born and bred in Walton, Liverpool. She is very loving – and very tough and she has always fought hard for her sons, daughter and grandchildren. Wherever I have lived in the world, Mum has always written to me and I have kept pretty much every single card or letter she has ever sent me. Thank you, mum. For everything.

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As many of you know, my father died in 1996, when I was fifteen years old. Last year, when Andrea and I went to speak with the registry office to give notice of our intention to marry, we were interviewed separately by the council official. Because on the UK wedding certificate it says: ‘Father’s name and surname’ and ‘Rank and profession of Father’, the first question that the registrar asked me was what my father’s name and profession was. The question took me completely by surprise because I wasn’t really expecting it. I started thinking about my dad and was suddenly overcome by emotion. ‘Patrick Charles Reid’, I said and added that my father had been a doctor. I began blinking away tears – because I was suddenly struck by the fact that 22 years after my dad’s death, whilst his name would be on my marriage certificate – he would not be here in person to witness the occasion.

There are many of you who are here today who were fortunate enough to meet my father and know that he had a big personality: a charismatic Irishman with a great spirit. I miss him a lot and he would have loved to have been here today. I would have loved him to have met my wife.

My father had a stroke and continued working until he was 70 when he probably should have retired a few years before. I remember him going out to work with a walking stick when I was a little boy. And the reason he did that was so that he could provide absolutely everything that he could for his family.

Today’s theme is of gratitude and sacrifice, and it is not lost on me, that one of the main reasons that Andrea and I are able to celebrate our wedding in these beautiful surrounding today – is because of the hard work and sacrifice of our parents and grandparents.

I know that my dad is here with us in spirit today. He would have approved of the venue, he would have approved of the guest-list, he would definitely have approved of the choice of wife. He would have thanked his wife, my mother, for every single bedtime prayer, for all of her love – and for carrying on in weather foul and fair. Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like us all to remember him now and raise a glass in memory of my father… Patrick Reid.

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I think it’s time for me to talk about my wife now – and doesn’t she look beautiful? Doesn’t she look beautiful?

Andrea and I, well, our first date was in an Italian restaurant in Jericho and it didn’t go particularly well. My overriding memory was of my debit card being rejected a few times in succession and Andrea impatiently thrusting her card in the direction of the machine. Our second date, at the Magdalen Arms in Iffley Road was a huge success. I went for a run the morning after our second date and was very excited about the prospect of seeing Andrea again, in truth, I was already planning our future together.

I then got back home and read a text message from Andrea. ‘Hi, I just want to say that I think you’re a nice guy but I’m not sure I’m really interested in going out with you.’ Or words to that effect. Safe to say I was crestfallen. I am a typical Leo and my pride had been dented. I cannot remember the exact words as (a) I do not wish to relive the trauma of rejection and (b) I’m pretty sure I deleted the message as soon as I had received it. Not to be deterred, however, I played it cool, gave her a few days to reflect – and then after a few days of radio silence, I received a message from Andrea asking if I would like to have Sunday lunch with her. Ladies and Gentlemen, it was Game On.

One of our earliest dates was at Blenheim Palace and we had a brilliant time. We stayed up into the early hours of the morning, telling stories and laughing uncontrollably. Shortly after that we travelled to Madrid for a few days and that was a life-changing holiday for me. We started living together a few weeks afterwards and I remember that for the first time in my life I had a sense of domestic direction that I had not ever felt previously.

There are words which we understand on an intellectual level for many years without actually ever realising their true meaning. The decision to ask Andrea to marry me was in effect taken when I started to realise that any word other than that of ‘wife’ was hopelessly inadequate to describe the way I felt about her. Whenever I used words such as ‘girlfriend’, ‘companion’ or ‘partner’ they did not tell the whole story and they certainly did not begin to communicate this woman’s importance, no, indispensability. We might have made it official today, but this woman has been my wife for many, many months. Because, from the first day we met, Andrea methodically set about transforming my life – inside and out.

A wise man once said to me: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re not the smartest person in room – but it’s always useful if you’re able to quickly figure out who the smartest person in the room is’. When Andrea and I are together, I know exactly who the smartest person in the room is, and it’s not me. I am a very lucky man because I have been blessed with a good family and a great bunch of friends. That being said, on this planet, there is one person and one person alone whose opinion, for me, counts above all others – and that is you, Andrea.

You don’t do drama. You don’t do negativity. You are focussed. Sometimes a bit too focussed for my liking! When I’m feeling down, you lift my spirits and when I’m feeling up, you never let me get carried away. Your mantra is moderation, whereas I feel if something’s worth doing it’s worth overdoing. You want the best for me. You are my Warrior Queen from Argentina and you have now and always will have, my full and undivided attention.

You are warm and kind and I love walking around with you at my side. I love introducing you to people. I love you very much and thank you for letting me be your husband.

And those of you who are eagle eyed, may have noticed that Andrea is not drinking alcohol today. And that is because she is three months pregnant!

We know that pregnancy can be a long road and we are taking nothing for granted – but God willing, all will be well and we will welcome our baby into the world in January. We cannot wait to become parents and I know that Andrea will be an incredible mother.

Before I hand over to my best man, I would just like to thank you all once again for joining us here today. We will carry this day in our heart for many years to come.

God Bless you all. Enjoy the rest of your time in Oxford.

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