Full speech text - Paul Speller, Groom

Thanks Dad, and thanks to Edith and Kaie for their speeches too.

I have lots more thank yous where that came from, but first, I'd like to take you back to the night when Edith and I first met.

There can't be many people who can show at their wedding a picture of what their wife looked like at the exact moment when they first met, but I can. First, let me set the scene.

*Back in February 2000, I was living in my *student halls at Bournemouth University.

I stayed in *my room nearly all the time, because unfortunately there was nothing to do in Bournemouth if you didn't like drinking and clubbing. Since I preferred eating and chatting, I instead spent nearly all my time sitting in my room, *never far from a drawerful of sweets and a cupboard full of chocolate milk. As you can see, it was a varied and healthy diet.

And what I was doing in there all that time, *was sitting at my computer, which you can see here, using the high-speed internet connection I had in my room. I spent most of my time chatting on *IRC, an internet chat system, and of course this is how I came to meet Edith at 2 o'clock in the morning of the 17th of February.

The thing is, when you spend so many hours in a tiny room with the curtains drawn, you tend to lose track of what the time is. So while it would be nice to suggest that the chances of us meeting online at 2 o'clock in the morning were particularly remote, it wouldn't strictly be true, because I was more or less guaranteed to be online at any time when Edith cared to show up!

And, early in the morning of the 17th of February, sure enough, she did show up, and *this is where I can now show you how she looked when I first saw her... she looked like this: *('spud' being her nickname, as Kaie may have mentioned.)

You can see the attraction there, I'm sure - I mean, who wouldn't have found seeing that on a screen attractive?!

Actually, I didn't even realise she was female at first - potatoes are pretty gender-neutral after all, and for some reason I just assumed she was male. We got chatting, since I was the only person awake and online at the time, and eventually it transpired that she was female. I think we finally got to bed at something ridiculous like 6am after a long introductory chatting session.

*A couple of months of e-mails and online chatting followed, and with a bit of virtual nudging from Kaie we eventually decided that, *although we wouldn't actually be meeting for another two months, we would kind of 'reserve' ourselves for each other in the mean time. Of course, I'm sure you can imagine *how many lovely ladies I had to turn down as a result, during those two long months before we met: * ... oh.

Of course, I can cut a long story short at this point because it's pretty clear from the fact that we're all here today *that when we finally met up it all worked out rather nicely and we lived happily ever after. It soon became clear we'd like to stay together for good, *so engagement followed at the end of the year, and then we just had to wait for Edith to finish school and get through her degree so we could settle down together and sort out today.

*In the past five years we've had some great times together*, in Scotland and Kent , Southampton and London, and of course when visiting our friends all over the country, and now, well, in some ways it's just the continuation of an already strong partnership; in others it's the start of something new. And of course it means we can move on from *the pathetic range of fiancé(e) cards for birthdays and Christmas that we've had to trawl through for nearly five years, and start using the much more developed husband and wife range - that's a bit of a relief!

Now at this stage in my speech, according to some advice I read, I should turn to my new wife and address her exclusively. It doesn't quite make sense to me, to be standing here in the middle of speaking to a roomful of people and then suddenly ignore you all and speak to Edith, doesn't seem fair somehow, so I thought I'd better provide you with some entertainment while I'm doing that. *So here's a little video to watch while I'm busy... Right.

Edith, I'm delighted that at last we're married. You're kind, funny, helpful, friendly, intelligent and basically everything anyone could want in a wife, and I'm so lucky to have you! I'm especially grateful to you for not just putting up with my mad ideas, but actively embracing them to help make them work better. Whether it's three computers in the living room, personalised animal place mats or a wedding web site, I know you'll always be on board, and we'll always get things done well together - we make a great team. Thank you for wanting a wedding at the zoo almost as much as I did, and for making me a very happy man today!

Anyway, I'd better stop addressing you exclusively now - I can do that at home, and that was after all just a normal load of stuff I might say to you in front of the TV at any time. So I'll just stop the video... *there - hello again everyone, hope you enjoyed the video, sorry for ignoring you all.

*Now, finally, I have a few words of thanks.

*Thank you to you all for *coming today. Your attendance means so much to us. We see you all too rarely so to get you all in one place at once is just amazing! Thanks also for all the lovely presents you've so kindly brought us.

*Thanks very much to those people who've contributed financially to today. We may almost have managed to halve what the latest survey reckons is the average cost of a wedding, but without generous assistance from *my parents, Edith's mum and all my grandparents I could have found myself delivering this speech from a bench in Regent's Park as you all sat on the grass polishing off a takeaway, so thanks to them all!

*A quick special mention to my mum, *whose job is organising events and who was therefore a very good person to have on board at our various meetings at the zoo when making arrangements! Never before had I seen someone producing 'minutes' for a meeting outside work!

*Thanks to everyone who's played a special role in today's proceedings. *My grandmothers and Susannah for their *readings (and *Susannah for making our rings!), *our mums for being our *witnesses and *my dad for his *hilariously witty introductions (have you been editing my speech?). And speaking of hilarity*, thanks in advance to *Fred, who's going to be entertaining us all later with his stand-up routine!

*Then of course *we have *Rosy, Jamie, Kaie and Davina, who have been great bridesmaids. Thanks to them all for their help today, and for tolerating so much shopping around for their clothing for today. It'll come as a great surprise to everyone to learn that I had never paid much attention to fashions before, so it was only when we were frantically trying to track down blue tops to match Edith's dress during a 'turquoise season' that I realised just how frustrating fashion could be! I know they all felt that frustration too so thanks for sticking with it!

*Special thanks to *Rosy, who by virtue of being the only bridesmaid within 300 miles of us has been particularly taxed by our requests for assistance.

*And then thank you to *my best men, *Mark and Martin, for all their help today - and I'll risk thanking them for their speeches now, without knowing what's in them! My bridegroom's speech-writing advice book suggested that at this stage I should get in a "pre-emptive strike" against them in retaliation for their likely attacks on me, but I think the case that they possess embarrassing anecdotes of mass destruction remains unproven at this stage so I'm not sure that a pre-emptive strike would be a good plan!

And finally, of course, *thanks to *Edith, my new wife, for inexplicably agreeing to marry me.

I'd like to finish with a *toast, and my toast will be *to the Bridesmaids and Best Men, so if you could please stand up and raise your *glasses... to the bridesmaids and best men!

Thanks for listening, and I hope everyone has a great evening.

* Asterisks represent (approximately) the points at which Paul pressed Space to advance the presentation (see main speeches page).

zoolyweds - Paul and Edith's wedding