I did alright with the humorous parts, but I quickly lost it when I began talking about my daughter and son-in-law. Quite a few people told me afterward that they cried right along with me. Several people asked if my tears were the result of giving away my last daughter in marriage; and I replied, “No, it’s the only daughter I have ever given away in marriage!” It’s complicated (and personal) but my other two daughters chose to walk a different path than the one we taught them from childhood. While we love them unconditionally, the preciousness of yesterday’s event contributed to my sensitivity and profound thankfulness for the way my youngest daughter and son-in-law pursued their relationship over the past three years. Thankfully, I don’t have a recordingâ€”although one may surface in the futureâ€”so here’s the text of my speech.
Distinguished guests, those of lesser distinction and those of no distinction, family (in-laws and outlaws), friends, and friends of friendsâ€”on behalf of Mark & Sarah Wiltshire, Sheri and myself, we extend a warm welcome to Jen and Danâ€™s wedding reception.
Iâ€™d like to begin by offering my sincere appreciation to all those who have worked so hard to help put this day together: a day, I am sure, Jen and Dan will cherish for the rest of their lives. Itâ€™s amazing how many bits and pieces have to be arranged in just the right order, for the right number of people!
Some of you have come a great distance to be with us today, especially those from the valleys who needed directions to Cardiff. Thank you for coming! You are making a valuable investment in the life of these newlyweds and I hope you see yourself as a positive influence, not just for their wedding ceremony, but also for their marriage which has only just begun.
If we have any regrets today, itâ€™s only that most of our family and friends from America are not here to join in this celebration. Jen has two older sisters: one just had a baby in Florida and the other has three children under the age of five. They would love to be here. Also Sheriâ€™s father, as well as my own, must send their sincere congratulations from 4,000 miles away, but they rejoice nonetheless with us.
I must share a couple of unique things about our youngest daughter, â€œJenny Pooâ€ as she was known for many years. With three older siblings, she was always very impressionable as a child. Someone in the family (I canâ€™t remember who) told Jennifer that she was born into this world as a fluffy little kitten that we rescued one day along the side of the road and that, because she had been a good kitty, God had turned her into a little girl. You may think this strange, but every one of our children has been lovingly victimized by a similar untruth in their early years. Being the only boy, my son asked us one day, â€œWhen am I going to turn into a girl?â€ And our second oldest was convinced that we got her from the cabbage patch while driving along a rural stretch of road one afternoon.
Jennifer has never lacked a vivid imagination. This we discovered about the age of five or six when she would make up the most amazing fantasies, sometimes going on â€œad libâ€ for fifteen or twenty minutes, usually during a brief trip in the family automobile. It was as if she could see the story unfolding in her mind and she would often get so caught up in the moment that she would begin laughing as she â€˜sawâ€™ the various twists and turns of the plot only a split second before they came forth from her lips. Even if the whole family was out of sorts, Jenâ€™s stories brought a smile or outright laughter from us all. She has been Godâ€™s gift to us in that way!
We moved to Wales just over four years ago, when Jennifer was only 17 years old. She willingly gave up her senior year of high school, one of the most important years of an American teenagerâ€™s life, without complaint because she trusted that the hand of God was leading our family to serve Him in this land. And rather than sit around and moan about being in a strange new land, she quickly pursued an apprenticeship in hair dressing and she now works in one of the most prestigious salons in Cardiff. Weâ€™re really proud of you, sweetheart.
Initially, we were concerned when we discovered few young men willing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ into their teens and twenties. Then we learned of a Christian conference in Aberystwyth, so we dragged Jennifer along for a one-day visit that resulted in her being invited to stay all week with a group she had just met earlier in the day. The following year she met Daniel Wiltshire, a rather tall and scruffy young man who began hanging around our house over the next few months, pretending (I think) to be just a casual friend of my son and daughter; and it wasnâ€™t very long until I realised that something more sinister was afoot. My paternal radar system sounded the alarm, so I kept a keen eye on this Welshman from Whitchurch.
Amazingly, this young man eventually asked if he could have a word with me, after hanging out with our two kids for the remainder of that summer. I suspect that Jen had already given him a little advice, saying that they would need my permission to date. Actually, we have always preferred the old-fashioned term â€œcourtshipâ€ to â€œdatingâ€ simply because the aim of courtship is marriage while dating is just too recreational for something so serious. Dan asked Jennifer, â€œAnd what if your dad says no?â€ To which my darling daughter replied, â€œIf he says no, then heâ€™ll have a good reason.â€ On his initial approach, Dan was quite forthright and articulate, except for the annoying sound of his knees knocking together and his teeth clacking like an old telegraph machine.
So we went for a little walk around the neighbourhood and Dan finally got around to the matter of courtship. At that point in the conversation we were crossing an elevated footbridge over the A470 dual carriageway near our home in the Trallwn community of Pontypridd. Taking advantage of the precipitous height and the mad rush of traffic below, I stopped in the middle of the bridge where I asked Dan, â€œSo what are your intentions toward my daughter?â€ Believe me when I tell you that life and death hung in the balance at that moment, but thankfully Dan responded that his intentions were honourable and that he wanted to spend more time with Jen in order to see if they were compatible for marriage.
Well, I must say that I was impressed! Having had two older daughters snatched away by men who offered me (the father) no consideration at all, it was refreshing and thrilling to learn that Mark and Sarah Wiltshire had raised a true Welsh gentleman. Six months or so later, Dan politely asked for Jenâ€™s hand in marriage, promising to provide for her and love her, as he has publicly vowed before all of us this day. Sheri and I welcome you to our family, Dan! Your parents should be proud of the fine Christian young man you have become and we are thrilled to know you now as our son-in-law.
I am an amateur genealogist who spends four to six weeks each year tracing the various lines of our family history: most of those lines point back to England, Ireland, and Scotland. As of today, however, I can declare with certainty and great pride that we have a new Welsh branch on the Lollar family tree!
So I would like to propose a toast to our wonderful daughter and our new son-in-law. Congratulations, Jen and Dan!