Wedding Report: Helen & Paul, Part Four
13 Thursday Sep 2012
Catch up with previous parts of Helen & Paul’s wedding report…
The announcement for the commencement of the speeches was greeted with a lengthy pause as the last few stragglers returned to their seats. A chorus of “Wa-hey!” greeted each person reappearing in the room, until eventually Claire hurried back in after an announcement across the PA, causing both cheers and applause as she sheepishly slipped back into her seat.
At last the venue manager regained the attention of the room and without further ado, handed over to the father of the bride to begin the triumvirate of speeches.
It was with a heckle of “Alright, Stevie Wonder” that the father of the bride rose from his seat to make his speech, his prescriptive sunglasses the only available resource through which he could read his notes.
“Helen, you look beautiful,” he began in his undulating Irish accent. “Your mum, Neil and myself are all so proud of you. You’ve got a warm heart and you’re dearly loved by your brothers and sister.”
As Gerry continued to explain how Helen has been the apple of her grandfather Peter’s eye, the bride’s own eyes began to fill with tears. Peter was very much missed, Gerry said, particularly on such a special day. From her twisted position on her seat, Helen gently mopped the tiny crystal tears threatening to dance down her cheeks as she continued to listen to her father speak.
With a nostalgic smile, Gerry recounted how Helen and Paul had met in 1999 whilst she was a singer in a band (a backing singer, Helen corrected) and Paul played keyboards. Helen had started singing at the age of two apparently, when Jo had been pregnant with Claire and ended up being serenaded with a toddler’s version of Diana Ross’ ‘Chain Reaction.
Thus began Helen’s passion for music, her father said, which encompassed a love of gigs, concerts and festivals to satiate her appetite for live music.
“She’s yet to come back from V-Fest with the tent that she left in,” he joked and Helen howled with laughter at the memory of all the abandoned tents she’d abandoned through the years.
It was now Harriet, a beautiful audience of one, to whom Helen bestowed her singing skills. At the greeting of her grandfather, Harriet decided to wave graciously back at him from the throne of her high chair, rather than waste any words on her cameo appearance.
Gerry went on to recount how Helen had a love of setting quizzes but was significantly lacking in the field of sports, her weakness, after a season ticket to the Villa had put her off football. The mention of the notorious local football club drew heckles of appreciation and distaste from various fans around the room, attempting to out-shout each other.
“Helen’s main interest has always been her family,” said Gerry. “Liam, Claire and Sam absolutely adore her. On a personal note, I have to express my own thanks for all her support and help over the last year, as I would never have got through it without her.”
Gerry’s voice faltered as he squeezed out the words of gratitude that were so important to him. He paused briefly to bestow a big kiss on his weeping daughter’s cheek, a mere symbol for the heartfelt thanks that he wished to express. To Helen’s left, her mother also dissolved into tears, dabbing at her eyes with her napkin as Neil wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a tender squeeze.
“So, ladies and gentlemen,” Gerry concluded. “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Paul into the family. Please raise your glasses to my beautiful, wonderful daughter and her new husband, Paul.”
The toast sounded round the room like a battle cry as glasses clasped in eager hands flew into the air, clinked with their neighbours and returned to the table amidst a gale of whoops and applause.
With the moniker of new son-in-law now resting on his shoulders, Paul replaced Gerry in the corner of the room and nervously folded and re-folded the paper on which his speech was written. He waited patiently for the boisterous applause to peter out before beginning to speak in a confident, knowing tone of voice.
“When I was signing the register during the ceremony earlier today,” he said. “I had the privilege of witnessing the full names of everyone who signed the document. Which is why I would like to thank Gerry Augustus Tuft for his kind words…”
A hoot of appreciation went round the room at the sound of Gerry’s Roman-sounding middle name. Paul continued his introduction by thanking everyone who had made the effort to attend their wedding, especially those who had traversed the choppy Irish Sea to join them. The mention of their motherland provoked a ripple of applause amongst Helen’s Irish relations before Paul also thanked everyone for their cards and gifts, promising that they would enjoy opening them at some point.
“Helen and I first met 12 years ago,” Paul remembered. “When my full-proof techniques of wooing her failed abysmally, which I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised about as they included not talking to her very much and giving her the distinct impression that I disliked her immensely.”
With a nostalgic smile on her face, Helen nodded in agreement at the memory as Paul’s self-deprecating jokes rolled on, eliciting guffaws of amusement from everyone around the room.
Paul continued to explain how over the years they had known each other, Helen had moved multiple times around Coleshill and how they’d cancelled several arrangements to meet up until eventually they had managed to go on a first date that culminated in a shopping trip. As Paul recounted his memories of this heady time in their relationship, his utter adoration of his new wife poured out in his words as his audience gamely devoured the charming, witty stories he regaled them with.
“Helen always astonishes me with how confident, funny, beautiful and saucy she can be,” he told the room, prompting a raised eyebrow and a naughty smile from his wife. Seizing on the good will in the room, Paul requested a toast to Helen and willingly the audience celebrated her good health and happiness.
Waiting for the tables at the back to settle down who, slightly overzealously mistook the toast for a conclusion, Paul continued to give special thanks to his new mother-in-law, Joanne, without whom the day wouldn’t have been so special, and to Simone, the funniest woman in the world. Leanne, Faye and Rachel also received heartfelt acknowledgements for their particular help.
“I always remember asking permission to marry Helen from her parents,” said Paul. “Gerry’s response was good, he was really happy about it and pleased for us. On the other hand, I was slightly taken aback by Joanne’s response who, when I asked her if I could marry her daughter replied, ‘Are you sure?’”
The lady in question fell about laughing, her hysterics infecting her children and the rest of the room at her own lack of diplomacy. Turning to his own mother, he quipped that he hoped she’d enjoyed her nice meal.
“I know you thought this day would never come,” Paul said to Jeanette. “I just wish that Dad was here to share it with us; we miss him every day.”
As Paul continued to list the bridesmaids and flower girls for their contribution to the day, he even mustered up a reprimand for his new wife when she dared to correct an anecdote in his speech, thus consolidating the almost total transformation from the shy, unassertive man he had been before Helen had come into his life.
He thanked his groomsmen and his unmistakable best man, as well as giving a special mention to Oscar, the mighty ring bearer, who had carried out his duties admirably, despite not feeling very well.
With their entire wedding party name checked, Paul and Helen produced a series of thank you gifts to present as a token of their gratitude. Somehow along the way Helen’s veil managed to hook itself onto an embellishment of her dress, rendering her immobile and calling for bridesmaid assistance.
“Talk amongst yourselves,” the bride joked as she waited to be untangled. From the back of the room, a series of bouquets were brought in, bursting with summery pink and yellow flowers for Helen and Paul’s mothers, as well as Simone, all of whom immediately became completely overwhelmed and teetered on the verge of yet more tears.
As the newlyweds resumed their positions at the top table and overexcited members of their wedding party tried in vain not to rip open the pink wrapping paper of their gifts, Paul declared that there was only one thing to do. As he led the audience in a toast to the bridesmaids and groomsmen, their wedding guests cheered heartily, over which Liam could be heard exclaiming, “To meeeeee!” whilst clinking his glass with those around him.
With an air of calm about him, Spencer watched everyone resume their seats as he picked up his drink to take with him and pushed his spectacles up his nose. Taking a deep breath, his loud voice filled the room.
“It’s been an emotional day,” he said by way of opening. “Even the cake’s in tiers!”
A groan and a shout of “Sit down!” punctuated the laughter tinkling around the room.
“Paul, I’m truly honoured to be your best man,” he said, looking down at the smiling faces of the bride and groom. “ You’re like the brother I never had, having known you for 30 years. I’ve only known sweet lady Helen a short time, but how much has happened during that interlude?”
With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Spencer recounted how after their first date, Paul had told his friend that it had all gone well, they’d got on really well but they had both decided not to rush into anything and to just take things slowly. A week later, Spencer was presented with the news that going slowly equated to the fact that Paul was going to be a dad. A chorus of laughter emanated as the newlyweds grinned somewhat sheepishly at the reminiscence.
“I’m slightly bewildered by Helen’s description of Paul as kind, loving and considerate,” Spencer continued. “I thought you were engaged to Paul?!”
A guffaw ran round the room as the maligned groom pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger before burying his face in his hands. Nevertheless, Spencer told the audience, he had never seen his friend so happy and that was as a direct result of Helen and Harriet being in his life.
He then made way for Sam and Liam to read out some of the messages that had been left for the newlyweds. The two brothers stood side-by-side in their matching suits and cheeky smiles, reading out the declarations of love and congratulations from various friends and family members. Coos and sighs from the audience punctuated their readings.
Resuming his speech, the best man couldn’t neglect to mention Paul’s stag weekend. He had forgotten how much of a party animal Paul was, Spencer said, but was soon reminded after a four-mile trek to Tesco for Strepsils and eucalyptus oil as the stag was feeling a bit under the weather.
“That lethal cocktail kept Paul buzzing well into the early hours of the evening until he was tucked into bed by 9.30pm,” Spencer mocked, amidst uninhibited laughter from not only Paul but everyone else listening to the best man’s dry recounting of the tale.
From this embarrassment to the next, Spencer cited Paul’s mullet, bad fashion, long purple coat, affinity for the Powerpuff Girls, rounders and his weird love for Throbbing Gristle as attributes that all made up for the lack of outrageous stories from the groom’s past. On this note, Spencer decided to play a game entitled ‘Paul or Impostor?’ in which he read out quotes that Helen had to decide whether they were bona fide quotes from Paul or something that had been made up.
From horticulture of the pubic region to the most underwhelming reaction to news that Spencer had become a father, Spencer recited a series of hilarious and unique pearls of wisdom that had been uttered from Paul’s lips over the years. Tears of laughter streamed down people’s faces as they listened to quotes like, “In a previous life you were a pelican and you ate my father who was a fish” and “For many years I’ve been followed around by small magical creatures called love gibbons” which were all correctly attributed to Paul by his wife.
“Who thought one man could come out with so much crap?” Spencer mused as he concluded the quiz and drew to the end of his speech. Helen clutched her stomach muscles as she struggled to breathe through he laughter whilst Paul’s brow furrowed into an amused frown at the sound of his own nonsense.
“Love is the flower, let it grow,” Spencer finished, quoting John Lennon. “I ask you all now to charge your glasses and get your bums off your seats for the new Mr and Mrs Messer.”
The pair in question shared matching grins as their friends and family took to their feet to salute them and followed their toast with thunderous applause and rowdy cheering.
A piercing scream emanated from the otherwise serene Laura who, unbeknownst to Spencer, had correctly bet that the duration of his speech would be 14 minutes and thus had won the entire book that had been running on him. As Spencer returned to his seat, glugging his drink in relief, Helen could be overheard thanking him for a wonderful speech, even as Paul still heaved with laughter.
Continue to the fifth and final part…
Images courtesy of Rachel Jones Photography