For Bethany… as she marries Alex
I was 42 years old when we decided to have Bethany. Many people at the time told us we were mad. We were determined, but first we thought it would be the right thing to do to discuss it with our older children Kate and Gareth, who were 15 and 14 at the time and instead of any embarrassment, their response was immediately favourable.
My dad and mum were among those who doubted not because they thought it was a bad idea but because they were old, and they were afraid that they would never see her grow up. Thankfully they did and though they didn’t quite make it to today they loved Bethany totally and were immensely proud of her. Also missing today is her Nanna Muz who has advanced dementia and is very frail. She too would have been immensely proud of you Bethany.
Having prayed much about it, God answered our prayers and we were blessed with a delightful little girl, one who has brought such happiness to our lives for the past 21 years.
Today 21 years later, we have had the most amazing day as we have celebrated her wedding to Alex and the start of a great new adventure for them both.
It’s been a wonderful day and as the sun sets over Cardiff as we look out through the windows of the Banqueting Hall here in Cardiff Castle, the sun is also setting on a wonderful day for us as a family and as things begin to draw to a close, Jean and I would like to say a massive thank you very much to all of you for being a part of this special day. As the father of the bride I have the pleasure of giving the first speech.
Today is, of course, a celebration, not just of the love that has united Alex and Bethany in marriage, but also a celebration of the families that have created, moulded and influenced the lives of these two special young people.
Kate and Gareth in particular have been truly amazing with her down though the years, they have guided her, watched out for her and together with Jason and Keri, have created a wonderful bond of love, which for us as their parents is a truly incredible thing to see.
Marriage is the joining of two lives but at the same time it’s the joining together of families. Jean and I have wonderful ‘in laws’ – Rick and Jean Erikson, John and Elaine Lewis and now dear Bob and Sally Davies.
There are some people I must, of course, thank for the part they played today…
First I’d like to thank the entire staff here at Cardiff Castle. Their experience and guidance has been wonderful and the service and the food were truly memorable and for that we are very thankful.
It’s a privilege to be here in a place so full of history.
I also want to thank those who took part in today’s service at Bethesda Chapel. Lisa, Sian and Llinos for singing and the music group for playing and making everything so special for us – Steve, Ben, Paul, Amy, Emily, Pete, Jas and John – from the bottom of our hearts thank you for all you did today to make everything so special.
I also want to thank Caroline and Cezary for reading God’s Word to us. I know how much Alex and Bethany wanted you to do this, as we did. To you both – our grateful thanks. (Thank you – Dziekuje)
When we found out we were expecting Bethany, I began writing a special diary. I called it my Pregnant Fathers Diary. I recorded every single day of Jean’s pregnancy, because I wanted Bethany to know before she came how much she was loved.
Our friend Sharon wrote a card when we found out. It said that the baby will be loved and will be a happy child. Well done Sharon, you got that spot on!
The entry dated 30th April reminded me of the day Jean was rushed from work with a threatened miscarriage. When I arrived after being called out of school, the doctor met me and said, “I’m so sorry, your wife is losing the baby!” We were both devastated but God had other ideas.
Over the following weeks, our little baby held on. For the following months Jean had to take great care to protect that little unborn treasure.
Great joy accompanied her arrival into our family. We named her Bethany Joy – her middle name in honour of her special aunty.
In many ways Bethany had a unique upbringing. In those days we were candidates for the world’s worst parents. We were youth leaders at the time and would often take her to our youth nights, turn the old coffee tables upside down and make a makeshift cot with a pile of coats. Not the best thing maybe but Bethany certainly grew up with the ability to be very adaptable and with a wonderful group of friends across the generations. She has never been an ounce of trouble!
Those adventures I spoke of in church have mostly included Bethany. She’s done some quite remarkable things in her 21 years. As we travelled through the Rockies in Canada, I got a message that my dear father had passed away, I was so grateful for the support of Jean and Bethany at this sad time.
On a remote mountainside in Lesotho, she watched, without batting an eyelid, a scrawny old chicken being caught, killed, gutted a boiled before calmly eating it with papa and various strange looking vegetables! Poor Kate and Gaz had to be happy with France, France and France again!!!
As she grew up and demands on my time in school and church began to take up much of my time. Bethany and I decided to keep some special time in the week to spend as father and daughter together. We called these our special evenings and we went out for cup of coffee down the Bay or maybe for an exciting meal in The Hungry Horse, if my mum got us a voucher, or IKEA. They were simple, but very special times for us both. On Wednesday this week we had another ‘Wednesday’ – just for all times sake. It was special, just like all the other times.
Bethany has grown from a beautiful child into an incredibly beautiful woman and I must admit the thought of giving her away should have bothered me more than a bit. The fact that it hasn’t is in no small way due to Alex. Jean and I love Alex – he is our perfect choice for Bethany. Bob and Sally, you can be immensely proud today of the young man you have raised.
Alex today I formally welcome you into The Newberry family – let me tell you it’s a select group of people. The reality is though, of course, that you have been a special part of our family for the past five or so years.
Bob and Sally you both are among the kindest, warmest, and friendliest people Jean and I know. And as you formally welcome Bethany into your family, I know you will take the best care of my little girl.
Bes and Alex you have so much to look forward to. A lovely home all ready for you both to move into. You now have a great responsibility to show to others the kind of love which has been shown to you both as you celebrate your marriage and the start of your great adventure.
Today we have achieved something very special; so many people have worked so incredibly hard to make today happen.
Boo, I have watched you carefully as you have given everything to help make Bethany’s dreams come true. Your vision, your commitment and your totally selfless giving are just so incredible. In many ways Bethany and Alex’s day is your day.
I love you and I thank you so very much.
Kate, the send off you gave Bes last week was amazing, Keri your work with the invitations, order of service and the things we can take with us are just absolutely incredible and I use my words carefully… INCREDIBLE. Behind them, of course two very special men who supported and encouraged them, so to Gaz and Jason our grateful thanks.
As a family we have been totally surrounded with love, not just today but in over the past months. We are humbled.
My greatest wish for the two of you now is that through the years your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.
It is written: when children find true love, parents find true joy.
Today Jean and I found true joy!