Sample speech II: Re-working the reading

Here’s an illustration of how to take a wedding reading and use it as the basis of your speech ‐‐ with a twist

‘Jeff and Kerry [gesturing to the bride and groom] have finally tied the knot. Congratulations, you both look fantastically happy today and I’m sure that you’re going to have a wonderful life together. How do I know that? Because I know that you love each other, and that’s what really counts in a marriage. For, in the words of a famous passage from Corinthians, “If I have no love I have nothing.”’


‘I’m sure you all know that reading. So I thought I’d see how Jeff in particular compared to the romantic sentiments in the passage. Remember how it begins?

I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell.

‘Well, I don’t know if Jeff started off by speaking the language of men or angels on his stag night, but after his fourth Tequila body‐slammer he definitely needed an interpreter. But we all got the gist of what he was saying: he loved EVERYONE that night. And he was feeling no pain at that stage of the evening. As for clanging bells, the only one Jeff heard was after he’d set off the fire alarm in the hotel.

‘The reading continues:

I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains ‐‐ but if I have no love, I am nothing.

‘Well Jeff sure thinks he’s got all knowledge and I know that he’s got plenty of shady secrets, that’s for certain. And we all know that he LOVES to talk, especially when he’s preaching on the virtues of his beloved Tottenham, spreading his expert knowledge of the dance moves in Staying Alive, and moving more than mountains after a session at the pub and a lobster vindaloo from the Taj Mahal.

I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burnt ‐‐ but if I have no love, this does me no good.

‘Jeff is not likely to give away everything he has. For instance, on the stag do he was very particular about keeping his trousers on, I seem to remember, after some of the lads decided they wanted them as a trophy. It was quite a fistfight, I can tell you. And in the end, his trousers were indeed “given up to be burnt”.

Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill‐mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.

‘The truth. Mm… we’re back to the stag again. I can’t really tell anyone the truth about what happened on the stag. Just as we were leaving for Blackpool Jeff turned to me and said: “What goes on tour, stays on tour. Right, Tim?” I thought to myself: “That sounds like a good call.” Anyone who went on the stag, I am sure, will agree this wasn’t just a ‘good’ call but an absolutely essential one. And don’t forget everyone: Blackpool magistrates, 11 o’clock Monday. [Looking over to one of the ushers] Neil, you’re bringing the donkey, right?

Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.

‘I think patience is a virtue that Jeff must have in spades. It took him five years to ask Kerry to marry him for a start. How he could wait that long to marry such a wonderful girl is anyone’s guess.

Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues but they will cease. There is knowledge, but it will pass.

Speaking of passes, Jeff tells a very romantic story about how he first made a pass at Kerry. Apparently, she was standing in the pub and he handed her a pint and said: “Hold this while I go for a slash, will you?” Such a charmer.

For our gifts of knowledge and inspired messages are only partial; But when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.

‘I remember when Jeff first described Kerry to me he used the word “perfect”. “I tried my usual chat‐up line about holding my pint,” he recalled, “and when I came back she was perfectly polite when she told me to ‘bog off.’” How little things have changed. Nearly there now:

When I was a child, my speech, my feelings, and thinking were those of a child; Now that I am a man, I have no more use for childish ways.

‘Jeff’s always been a bit of a kid at heart. Funnily enough, he was the biggest kid in our class. I remember seeing him for the first time and thinking he was a giant. Then someone told me he’d had to repeat his first year of primary school six times. He was actually 24 when he finally left school.

What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete ‐ as complete as God’s knowledge of me. Meanwhile these three remain; faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.

‘That’s enough from me. Except to say: here’s to Jeff and Kerry and THEIR great love. Cheers!’

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