Welcome everyone

Now is the time when the Groom is expected to say a few words.  A task that my lovely wife thinks is impossible.  She has this strange idea that I love talking, so she asked me to keep it short.  I don’t think I just promised to obey, but I will do my best to compromise.  I have therefore reluctantly removed all except one single pun, and at the last minute have scrapped my informative 50 chart PowerPoint presentation.


I hope you have had enough to eat, I think that Down Hall have done us proud.


How Beautiful my Lovely Lavinia looks today, don’t you think so?

I feel really proud to be standing here today as her husband


Before I ramble on and on, I would like to say some Thankyous, to all those who have helped us get to this point.

Thanks to Paul my best man and my son, and all the team who helped get things together.

Dougal for giving away his mother, and handing her over to me for further safe keeping.

To Nina, Louise & Jonathan for the readings at the ceremony, and to the ushers

To Lavinia’s friend Annette for being our registrar


To my daughter Mary for beautifully decorating the table seating chart,

To my Daughter in Law Danielle for doing Lavinia’s makeup, and my future daughter in law Cristina for helping with Lavinia’s preparations


To Nina, Louise, Marta and all Lavinia’s fellow Relate colleagues who organised the “chicknic” and hen parties.


Thanks to my son Paul, and my old friends Ian and Jonathan, who gave me a boy’s day out at RAF Hendon


I must also say Thankyou to Anna Oliver the Down Hall Wedding Organiser, who has been excellent.

I will have forgotten someone, so please forgive me, and Thankyou to Everyone else for their help


Lastly I want to thank you Lavinia for your patience with me over the last week or so, as I began to develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder over the spreadsheet for the wedding.


This is a wonderful occasion for Lavinia & I, as it is probably the only time we will ever get our friends from all the different parts of our lives, together in one place.  This is a unique opportunity for you to discover the things, which for years we have endeavoured to keep secret from you.  So please do take some time to speak to people you don’t know.  We have done our best to mix you on our tables (despite a little resistance).  I hope by now that you have learned a bit about one another, though hopefully not too much about Lavinia and myself! 


I would now like to introduce our immediate family on top table to you:

Will Twynham, Mary Epworth, Paul Epworth, Danielle Epworth,……Dougal Holley, Cristina Serna, Duncan Holley.


Thankyou all so much for coming to our wedding.  Almost everybody we invited has made it here today.  Some of you have travelled great distances to be here:

Jonathan from California, Lucia Duggan from Ireland.  From Paris we have Marco, plus the entire Zaire family (Patrique, Kathy, Shannon & Tessa), and Bram & Katrijn from Holland. We really do appreciate it folks. 

Some of you have also had to leave young families behind.  Please send them all our love.


I would also like to remember those who can not be here today:

Our friends Ida Kelarova and Dezo could not come, as today is the start of their 10 day summer workshop in the Czech Republic.  Also Lavinia’s childhood friend Avril from Kilkenny, Ireland and her partner Robin.  They have a previous commitment.


I feel sure that our own parents, would have approved of our union.  Lavinia’s Mother Joan, died just over a year ago, following a severe stroke 5 years earlier. Though she was paralysed and unable to speak, I am happy to say that we were able to tell her that we planned to marry, and she was clearly delighted for us.  That was about Five years ago, so you can see that we don’t exactly rush into things.


My own father Bill Epworth would have really liked Lavinia, I am sure of that.


I would like to propose a Toast to those Absent Friends And Partners, with whom you and we would have liked to have shared this day. Please remain seated and raise your glasses to:

Absent Friends


What first attracted me to Lavinia?

Well I can assure you that despite what you might think, it was not her current occupation as a sex therapist, for she was a midwife when we first met.  She later trained as a psychosexual therapist.  She has told me, that over the years, I have taught her everything she knows. …Sorry I’ll read that again ….. I have taught her everything she knows about male dysfunction. 

I do apologise for that.


On a more serious note.  Lavinia and I have shared a journey together.  We struggled in our early relationship, but dared to take responsibility for that which was difficult betweens us. Through this, we came to share a deep love and intimacy that transcended our own neediness.  As the Poet Rumi once said:

"Your task is not to seek for love,

But merely to seek and find,

All the barriers within yourself

That you have built against it."


So why, after being a steady couple for so many years, why is now the time for us to actually get married to each other?


There are several really good reasons:

In my younger days, marriage was an institution.  People often tell me, that I should be in an institution, so why not choose marriage?


Secondly: Nowadays so few people marry, that I think it has become a really radical thing to do.  It makes us a really cool couple.


Lavinia is fairly short of relatives, our marriage will certainly fix that in terms numbers, if not quality.


Some would say that we are mad to marry, but recent Swedish research, has revealed that marriage halved the risk of developing dementia. Even more worrying, Divorcees who remained single, had 3 times the risk of developing dementia.  Furthermore those widowed at a young age who stayed single, faced a 6 times greater chance.  So if we are not already too late, we would actually be mad not to marry.


Next: I have been getting a little jealous recently.  Lavinia goes to a local fitness centre several times a week.  I have no evidence for what she does there but Lavinia recently mentioned, that she was feeling stiff as she had spent 2 hours with a personal trainer.  I told her that I might be getting a little jealous, and she promptly reassured me that I shouldn’t worry, as he was only 20 years old and was very fit!  For some reason it just didn’t reassure me.


Actually the real reason, is that I just can’t wait anymore to consummate our relationship.  Frankly if we wait much longer, I may not actually be able.  So if the two of us appear to be absent at any time during the festivities, please be understanding.

Joking aside, the serious reason is that we wanted to show our commitment to each other, and to honour the strong loving relationship that we have enjoyed for many years, and hope to share for the rest of our days. 


Most couples come together through romantic attraction, and later, when the intense heat cools a little, they have to forge a lasting friendship.  Ours was different, for we were good friends, for some years before there was any romantic connection.  We supported each other through various life crises and through that, shared an emotional intimacy.  In time it became something more passionate, and Lavinia became my lover, My Love, and my closest dearest friend.

How come we didn’t marry sooner?

It is now time to reveal that neither Lavinia or myself, are perfect human beings, despite appearances today.  In truth, we both suffer from dangerous psychological defects which cause irrational behaviour:

And my own problem? I intrinsically trust women.  Believe me; it has got me into some scrapes during my time!


For many years Lavinia used to say “I could never be married to you”.

Being a logical trusting sort of chap, I took her words entirely at face value, felt rather hurt, and kept my proposing lips tightly shut.  It took years before I learned, that when a woman repeats a negative statement on multiple occasions, she probably means the exact opposite of what she says.  In fact I came to realise, that Lavinia really, really wanted to be asked, and when eventually I did propose to her, she was delighted.  


However, it seemed that for Lavinia, being asked to marry, was more important than actually getting married.  For that was some years ago, and we frequently discussed the options: Should we go away somewhere and get married secretly on our own?  No fuss.  Or perhaps we should have a very small affair just with our immediate families?  Alternatively, should we have a big bash, and invite everyone from all our walks of life? 


This delaying strategy worked well, but a couple of years ago we decided that we really ought to go for it.  We chose August the 17th as the ideal date.  It has special memories for us, and it is the birthday of my Father, and also the birthday of Lavinia’s Grandmother who raised in the early years.  Then, suddenly out of the blue, Paul and Danielle announced their engagement, so we put all our plans on hold.  They were married just over a year ago, and a wonderful event it was too. 


So then we thought: August 17th 2008.  Next thing: Lavinia’s son Duncan and Cristina both announced they planned to marry at the end of this August.  We then realised that it was like pulling out into traffic at a busy T junction.  Little point in long term planning, just the need to spot a gap and then go for it.


Let me now introduce you to Lavinia’s friend Marta.  A couple of months ago, she came round to see Lavinia, who told Marta that we had postponed our wedding plans again.  Marta worked with her to visualise the psychological “blocks”, and before I knew anything about it, they had both a date, and a venue, and I hadn’t even been told yet!  Imagine my surprise later that day when I found out that I would be getting married in just a few weeks, and it would be here, and on this day! After I had got over the initial shock, I thought it was a great idea.  So you see, we owe a special thanks to Marta for restarting our wedding plans.


We decided that we wanted to share this day with just our closest friends, to keep it intimate, to give us a chance to actually spend time with each of you.  Someone told me that it would be impossible, and that weddings are not really about the Bride and Groom.  Now that might be true for young couples whose marriages are organised by parents, but I hope that today will prove otherwise.  For once Lavinia and I are choosing to be selfish.  So I say to all of you in this room today: Know that each one you is someone very special to us. 


Not all of my relatives are here.  In the autumn we will have a family reunion in Derbyshire, to provide an opportunity for some of my more elderly, and northerly relatives to meet with Paul, Danielle, Lavinia and myself.  This will provide a more accessible location, for my two dear uncles of around 90 years of age.


Why Down Hall?

I have already told you of my own psychological defect, well Lavinia has one too.  I feel sure that she won’t mind me sharing it with you. No No! not that one darling,! I promised never to tell anyone about that.


No, Lavinia cannot resist a bargain.  See something priced at 3 times its value, but with a 50% off red sticker, and she just has to have it.  A fact that I intend to ruthlessly exploit later tonight.  I have scribbled the words “50% off” one some part of my body.  …………….Oh!.  I hope she doesn’t interpret that the wrong way.


Anyhow, Marta and Lavinia searched the web for a venue available at short notice, and the clincher was when Lavinia spotted the Down Hall special offer for August 17ththis year.  From what Lavinia told me, it is such a good offer that Down Hall is paying us to have our wedding here.  Isn’t that right?


My only reservation about the plan was it’s closeness in time, to the imminent marriage of Duncan and Cristina on August 30th.  I do sincerely hope that they will forgive us for pushing our way into the queue, very un-British! 


They, will be married in Spain, and we are so looking forward to it.  Just as last summer Lavinia and I were delighted to welcome Paul’s wife Danielle into our family, This year we will welcome Cristina into the heart of our extended family.  I am sure that all of you would join me in wishing them well on their life’s journey together.


Please stay seated, but raise your glasses to Duncan & Cristina

Duncan & Cristina


What about our future living arrangements?

When a 97 year old man, was asked to explain his 80 years of happy marriage, he gave the reasons: “Frequent separations and loss of hearing” So our marriage should be fine.  Many of you may be surprised that we are not currently planning to move into a single house. 

In the beautiful poem on marriage, that Louise read in the ceremony, Kahlil Gibran, says that the Cyprus and the Yew should not live in each others shadow.  Living apart, but spending great time together has worked well for us, as we both were used to our own space. 


Some of you have asked at what point in time, we would actually live together one hundred percent, so I decided to apply a bit of science: I analysed the distance between us, over time.  Over the last twenty years, I have lived in Stebbing, Sheering, and Sawbridgeworth, while Lavinia has lived in Saffron Walden, and now moved to Stortford.  We obviously like places beginning with S, I come from Sheffield and Lavinia is a Scouser.  By plotting a graph of the distance between us versus time, and the appropriate error bars, I predict that we will finally live together in the year 2020 +/- 20 years.



Lavinia has told me that she intends to change her name to Epworth, and I feel deeply honoured by that.  Of course I haven’t told her that no-one will be able pronounce her name anymore, something she will discover next time she tries to order a takeaway.


She has however, had a lot more experience of changing her name than have I.  Though never divorced yet, this will be her Fifth change in surname, and since I have known her, Lyn, has also changed to Lavinia.  She has had more names than most wanted criminals. 


As some of you know, I have an interest in family history, and recently we both had our DNA tested to explore our ancestral origins, our matriarchal genetic roots.  It turns out that I am descended from Arabs, the Bedouins to be precise, (we Bedouins are of course renowned for our intents experiences). 


Lavinia, it appears, is descended from the Ashkenazi Jews.  I nearly insisted that she wore a Burka and walked 2 paces behind me from now on, but daren’t push my luck in case she insists on me being circumcised.  Come to think of it, our model for each living in separate houses could form the ideal template for peace in the Middle East.

You may be wondering why Lavinia might want to marry me.  Well I was so concerned that she might want her money back that I insisted on her getting her eyes tested a couple of weeks ago, and having new spectacles. Surprisingly, she still seems up for it, but I am relieved that she is not wearing her specs today.

Lastly, I would like to share a few of the reasons why Lavinia is special to me:

Her warmth.

Her willingness to risk being emotionally intimate and vulnerable with me. 

Her strength and determination.  ,

For her honesty and her integrity.

Her sense of humour, how she can smile when I laugh at my own jokes. 

Her generosity, how she reaches out to people and includes them in our lives. 

Her willingness to try new things, to explore my own interests and understand my passions.


And then of course there is her beauty. 

I always thought Lavinia was hot! And still do so.

I am glad to say, that the fires are undiminished over 20 years, and still burn, if a little quieter.


Dear Friends, I ask you now to be upstanding and to raise your glasses and toast the Bride:

The Bride