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Mr. Simmons: Good evening everybody. Iím Al Simmons, Annís father. Nancy and I would like to welcome you here to Stoney Grove on this happy day, and thank you all for coming. As the comparatively impoverished father of the bride, and an American to boot, I feel like something of an impostor in the role of master of ceremoniesóAnn and Simon did all the work and spent all their money. So this is really their dayóbut I am genuinely happy that we are all here together.

Nancy and I both welcome Simon into our family as our new son-in-law. Heís a fine young man and Iím sure heíll make our daughter very happy. I had a chance to talk to the Reverend Banksóand thank you Reverend for officiating at such a beautiful serviceóand he told me heís witnessed a lot of growth and maturation in their relationship in the two years heís known them, so thatís good. Iím sure that Simon will treat my beautiful daughter with the love, fidelity and respect that such a special young woman deserves.

I think weíll all find ourselves well fed and well entertained this evening. So please join me in raising a glass to the bride and groom. Ann, Simon, we all wish you long lives of love, health, and happiness together.

Everyone: To Simon and Ann!

Simon: Strangely, I don't get to say much here, but I would like to thank Ann's parents, family, and friends for making the long trip to come to our wedding. We're very happy you made it. It also falls to me to thank the bridesmaids, a very easy task considering how wonderful they all look and what a fine job they did. So please stand up, not you Emma! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the bridesmaids.

Everyone: To the bridesmaids!

Simon: Now I have to give you the best man, who despite the offer of my entire lottery proceeds, is going to talk anyway.

Phil: Bit nervous about this. In fact I went to a wedding web site this week to get some advice on what to say. They suggested "At a wedding you should not discuss sex, politics, or religion. " So I went back to my speech and edited it. Here's what I have left: "Thanks for coming!"

No, seriously, when I was asked to be best man, the possibilities for my speech seemed endless. I actually made a list of all Simon's transgressions and foolhardy adventures. The exotic fruit dancer in Paris, and closer to home our Nottingham trip to see Merry Maid Marion-- it was actually quite a long list. In fact, I have it hereÖ

No, after a bit more thought I burnt it, without even a promise of an exorbitant bribe from Simon, though we can talk about that later. After all, itís amazing what they can do with forensics these days. No, I decided I didnít want to talk about that part of Simon. Because when I thought about it I realised that Simon was putting a lot of that behind him. Perhaps he won't totally reform, I'm not sure we'd recognise him if he did. It brings to mind the line about the two old men on a park bench watching a young woman go past. One of them says sadly "Sometimes I feel like and old man" and the other replies, "Funny, I was thinking exactly the opposite."

When Simon came back from the States he seemed wilder than ever, the money certainly freed some impulses that could have better been left chained. But he was happier too. A lot has happened to him. Winning the Lottery, buying this place, having his Dad come live with him, but I think he would agree that the luckiest moment in his life happened just before buying that lottery ticket. It was when he met Ann.

Simon: Absolutely, thatís why I bought the ticket.

Ann: Actually, I paid for it.

Phil: I'm glad Simonís back in England. I'm glad he's made a commitment to this wonderful house and estate and I'm most glad that he's is marrying this wonderful lady. May they continue to live and prosper as our close neighbours and friends.

I give you, the luckiest couple, Simon and Ann.

Everyone: To the luckiest couple!

Ann: Thank you, everyone--and especially Phil-- for what you said and didnít say! And thank you all so much for coming today, and for your thoughtful notes and telephone calls and help while we were planning the wedding. I hope youíll have a chance to stay a few days at least and visit with us at the house, see the village, and get to know something about this wonderful place. Iíd like to thank my parents, my dear friends Amy and Emma, and my cousins, Jen and Janey, for taking part in the ceremony this afternoon, and my aunts, uncles and friends from the States for making the trip to be with us today. Although I grew up thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world, I really do feel at home here now, and I'm really grateful for the kindness of all of my friends and family in England, and especially in Puckering. I also want to thank Nigel Banks for his guidance and for a beautiful service, Father Hoole for taking part in the ceremony, Miss Rutherford for providing the lovely music at the church, and Nora Elberdine for the gorgeous floral arrangements. Finally, Iíd like to thank my friend Martin Johnson, who surely must be here in spirit today, for making me feel welcome at Stoney Grove when I first arrived, and sharing the home he and Shirley made with Simon and me so graciously. So I'd like to propose a toast to friends and family.

Everyone: To friends and family!

Phil: At this point you can enjoy the music in the saloon and the bar! Feel free to wander outside in the garden or around the house.


Stroll in the Garden

Dance in the Saloon

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