Father of the Bride’s speech

We were very touched by the Ray Harris’ speech, and even more so when he agreed we could share the transcript. Here it is below …


Welcome to all the guests today.

Especially those from a distance – Chicago, North Carolina, Portugal, various parts of the UK.
This wedding is not only international in the sense of guests from abroad and from the UK, but also for a shared connection with France. Mike’s mother Maryse is French and brought Mike up to speak French fluently. Mike’s father Steve met Maryse in France when studying there. Mary and I live in S W France for part of the year. One of the themes of the wedding is the colour French blue – on the service documents, the cravats we are wearing, etc.


I am very proud of my daughter’s achievements and I am very proud of Mike’s achievements. Both are lawyers, so with two lawyers in the family there will be at least three opinions on any topic. Alexandra took a first degree in law at University College London and then followed it up with a Master’s degree in law, also at UCL. She then did the Legal Practice Course in London followed by two years at the city commercial law firm McGrigors to qualify as a solicitor. Mike did his law degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury followed by the Legal Practice Course in Oxford and then he worked at a solicitor’s firm in Oxford. Both Alexandra and Mike are classic lawyers in that they are precise, clear and organised and they are people for whom words are important. But they are not ordinary lawyers. They are both adventurous and free thinkers. When the time is right they have both changed jobs. Alexandra by joining the British Army as part of Army Legal Services, and most recently by moving to the Royal British Legion. Mike by moving into the completely different sector of IT in Hays Recruitment.


When Mike wrote to me in June last year about proposing to Alexandra, he said that Alexandra is deeply caring, very inquisitive and amazingly funny. She is all of those things, and Mike also shares these characteristics. His ability to plan is astonishing. He has great ideas that he sees right through to completion. For example, the place names for the tables are on 45 rpm discs to represent both his interest in music and the key places that are important to both himself and to Alexandra. The back of the order of service has apparent adverts for a play (The Happy Marriage) and also for Rose’s lime juice as the promise of spring and new life. Even the final detail of the order of service has a statement that “ All image elements used under UK fair dealing laws, with the intent to parody or pastiche”. Mike is certainly inquisitive and he has many and varied hobbies – lego, music on vinyl and classic films in great detail.


The two most important days in my life were the days of the births of my two daughters. Caroline, our chief bridesmaid today, was born at 8.50am on Monday 6 March 1990. Alexandra was born at 3.14pm on Thursday, 26 July 1984, a sunny summer’s day in Durham. When Alexandra was born I noticed she had a slightly closed left eye. I can always tell when she is tired by that eye. But also Mary and I felt that Alexandra was a lioness right from her birth. An intelligent, polite, respectful, loving lioness, but a lioness nonetheless. And so it has proved. At UCL she joined the Officer Training Corps and (to our surprise) became very enthusiastic to join the army as a lawyer. She persisted with this idea, applied to the British Army and was accepted, somewhat to her surprise. She then showed her lioness qualities by successfully completing the rigorous Sandhurst training before the pass out parade in April 2011. I was incredibly proud that day to see her marching with the rank of captain in the British Army. It is difficult to see Alexandra here today looking so beautiful in her wedding dress and also to recall her in a soldier’s camouflage uniform with a blacked up face for night manoeuvres and with a rifle in her hands.


We are in a historic building. We are in the Nelson Room in the Trafalgar Tavern that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The Trafalgar Tavern is famous for the whitebait dinners attended by cabinet ministers and was also often visited by Charles Dickens. Well today for Alexandra and Mike this is a historic day. They are now a married couple. We toast them wholeheartedly and wish both of them a full and happy life together.

Please stand to congratulate Alexandra and Mike on their wedding and wish them every future happiness.