For posterity

Good evening and thank you all for coming and for allowing us to share this day with you. My name is Ian. My lovely wife sitting there is Theresa. I’m Elysia’s dad and Theresa is Elysia’s mum.

Theresa and I were both born and brought up in Klang, a town some 25-30km from KL in Malaysia. We both went to UNSW in Sydney. When we finished uni we returned to Malaysia but we moved back to Australia – to Melbourne – when Elysia was about 10 years old. Elysia went to school in Melbourne and finished high school in 2011. Like the cockies of Canberra, the calls of ANU were very loud – much louder than any Melbourne could muster. Elysia heeded the call and so in January 2012 she left home in Melbourne to come to Canberra.
We’ve become more acquainted with Canberra since and we’re very happy we can all be here today. If you haven’t already guessed I’m here to make the father-of-the-bride speech so be warned and please bear with me. Make yourself comfortable and maybe pour yourself a full glass of wine.
Again, thank you all for coming. Many of you have made a gargantuan effort to be here. Please allow me to name some of you. To Theresa’s mum and dad as well as Theresa’s sister Chin Kheen and nephew Bryan, thank you for travelling all the way from Klang in Malaysia. To break it down, that journey is made up of an hour’s drive from their home to the KLIA airport, a 7 ½ hour flight to Melbourne, and another hour to Canberra. That’s quite a trek. Likewise to my mum, my brother David and his wife Jean, my sister Sim and my niece Nicole (Sim’s daughter) who have all made an even more arduous odyssey by flying into Sydney from Malaysia and then driving from Sydney to Canberra, thank you. My mum had an unfortunate accident which left her with a fractured toe, some 6 weeks ago so making the journey has been even more of an odyssey. I appreciate that deeply. I want to thank Theresa’s uncles, aunties and cousins who made their way here from Melbourne, my uncles, aunties and cousins who travelled from both Melbourne and Sydney, and our very dear friends who have travelled from Melbourne. I must mention my dear friends Alex and Li Har, who broke camp in Gippsland to drive up here with their four boys. Very few people I know have had to pack formal wear to a camping trip. Thank you Alex and Li har for the special effort. I’m sure many here tonight have likewise made great efforts to travel to Canberra. For all your efforts to be here in Canberra to celebrate this occasion with Elysia, Micaiah and ourselves, Theresa and I will be always grateful.
Lastly but not least and also by way of acknowledgement I want to say how appreciative I am of Micaiah’s parents, Desmond and Siew Lean and all they’ve done for Micaiah and Elysia – not just for today but for the whole time Elysia has been in Canberra. I understand Siew Lean has an awesome repertoire of dishes that would wow any connoisseurs of Malaysian cuisine. Elysia, Theresa and I have been beneficiaries of your extraordinary skills, as I’m sure everyone in your wonderful household has been. It is a privilege for Theresa and I to celebrate our families coming together tonight.
I’d like to tell you a few stories about Elysia when she was little. So please do fill your glass.
Once when she was not older than four, while we were in KL in Malaysia, she came along to my employer’s family day out. The event was held in a public park somewhere in KL. There was a large children’s playground in a corner somewhere. There was a large monkey bar structure in that playground. It was made of steel tube box frames stacked on top of each other into a tall pyramid of sorts. Elysia climbed up this structure and she was maybe 2-3 metres up this structure when she made the mistake of looking down instead of up. Her realisation of how high she’s climbed, caused her to verbalise her predicament and maybe her panic. That was the first time I heard her swear. I immediately learned a couple of lessons. First, a sweet little girl of 4 can swear. Secondly, she probably picked it up from her dad.
A second story is a bit similar. We were in a hotel on holiday, in Penang in Malaysia. The hotel had a swimming pool with a couple of slides. One climbs up a series of steps up to the top of the slide and slide down into the pool. Elysia was again probably 4 or 5. She excitedly made her way up the steps and fearlessly at first, sat down at the top of the slide. About a third of the way down, her face turned from one of excitement, to one of sheer fear. I think she realised at some point that the velocity of her descent into the pool was going to be considerably higher than she had expected. I stood at the end of that slide to assure her I was there to hold her but that look of fear on her face also, again, taught me a couple of lessons. First, a sweet little girl of 4, can swear. Second, I must protect this little girl from such fear, or help her deal with it.
The third and final story is a bit raw. Elysia was maybe 3. We asked her if she liked to learn to play the piano and she was very excited about it. Soon however that excitement evolved and became a phase of plain, painstaking work. I’d sit on the piano bench next to her as she practised. She’d find it hard going but I’d urge her on. She then wanted to stop but I made her go on. She would hit a wall and would be sobbing with tears as her dad made her carry on. It was a painful grind but she fought her tears and worked through what must have been painful barriers. Before long however, she learned her pieces. Nearly a couple of decades hence, when she goes back to our home in Melbourne, she’d play the piano we have in the study. Every time I hear her play and sense her enjoyment, I’d think of those tears she endured to be able to experience the joy of playing the piano, down the road. At such moments, I too felt pretty good.
Micaiah, these stories are for you. I hope you remember them long after tonight and when you do, you’d learn these lessons, as I did all those years ago. First, Elysia swears. Or used to. I apologise because I’m almost certain she inherited that tendency from me. Second, she likes to climb first and think of the descent later. She wants to reach ever higher. The person to support her, deal with the fears of descent and deal with her swearing, will now be you. Yeah, we’d probably swing by some time but for the most part, you’re it. Third, her tears are worth the while. For her as well as for you. Sit next to her and help her through her painful grind and learn her pieces, wipe away her tears and you’d both reap the joyful outcomes. You’ll both know best when those tears should not stop you both and when they should, but if you just sit next to each other through the process, you’d both reap the benefits those tears bring.
Elysia those stories are also for you. I hope they’re stories you tell your children, so that your children don’t swear. Keep climbing ever higher. Help Micaiah do the same. Help each other on your descent and never be afraid to shed a tear in your efforts to learn new music in your lives.
Micaiah, when we first met I wondered about your American accent. I thought you’re another kid brought up by Marge and Homer Simpson. When we had dinner at Tilley’s and I offered to buy you a drink, you asked for a glass of white wine. That was in the middle of winter on a cold Canberra night. Soon I learned you don’t like football – of any code. So I said to Theresa, our daughter is going out with a man who spoke with an American accent, has white wine with dinner in the middle of winter, doesn’t like footy and doesn’t appear to be carrying an ounce of fat anywhere. When I start to peel away that caricature however, I started to see why Elysia wanted to spend the rest of her life with you. You’re a sensitive, thoughtful, caring and loving man. You work hard, you always think of others first and most reassuringly, you know and love Jesus and work at getting others to know and love him. You even take very decent photographs and I hope you’ll find a way to make me look, on photos, like George Clooney one day. So although you don’t like football, I’m very happy you’re the man Elysia has chosen to be her husband. Welcome to our family Micaiah and if you ditch trigger warnings and safe spaces, acquire a taste for Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and barrack for Hawthorn you’ll even be welcomed into the inner sanctum. You’d instantly double the population of this inner sanctum.
I hope you’re enjoying your dinner because the solution to my mid-life crisis has to remain parked in someone else’s garage as a result of this dinner tonight. The speech template I downloaded from speech dot com says because I made that sacrifice, I am permitted to dispense advice. So here goes nothing.
Some of us in this room tonight will remember who Lionel Murphy was. He was the Attorney General in Gough Whitlam’s government. Thanks to Lionel Murphy, we now live under very liberal marriage terms. The marriage contract may now be terminated for convenience. Many now exercise this right, conferred by the Marriage Act. Fewer stay still stumps. Elysia and Micaiah, as you both stroll out to the wicket and begin your innings, life can be exciting. As life runs up to deliver its zingers and googlies, the challenge begins and will quickly mount. Batters need to navigate their ways carefully with a view of staying as long as possible to build an innings. There may be patches where you’re hitting boundaries and sixes. There will be patches when you watch as your partner bats away at the other end. Often, all you do is block and there are no runs. You may need to let many go straight to the keeper. What matters though, is you do all you can to stay till stumps.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs often rules the day. For the vast majority of us, we work because we have to. We need the money. However, over and above money, work also makes us feel complete. Even when we have jobs, we get lousy days. My lousy day at work can include a day when I don’t feel like I’ve done proper work. I’m sure many of us have had days like those. You know – days when we run from meeting to meeting, when we take phone calls, see people, “discussed” stuff but we end up exactly on the same spot as we were when we started the day. We hadn’t accomplished anything or helped pushed for progress or added to our own understanding of a matter or the understanding of our colleagues or other people. You now – those days where if you did absolutely nothing, nothing would have mattered. Such days can be real lousy days for me too. I get there’s a spectrum out there – a whole range of what events and circumstances make our days better or otherwise. Where I stand now, the way I see it is we hang in there, ask questions constantly but keep our foot firmly planted right through and keep batting and battling on. We may not get the runs we want but sometimes what counts is the perseverance – to dig in a long and solid wicket – that one looks back on with satisfaction, even pride. Sometimes all that matters is we’re there till stumps. Pardon the barrage of references to all things cricket but that to me is a core feature of the Aussie summer. I hope as you continue your Aussie journey you will be there at stumps every time, and as you block or duck, push or pull, swivel or swing, on the front or back foot, you get moments when you enjoy the clear blue sky, and moments when you charge down the wicket, leaping and punching the air celebrating your achievements. I trust and hope your days of feeling “meh” at work will be fewer as your journey in Melbourne lengthens.
[As the elder speaker at the wedding, you should impart some of your wisdom to the happy couple about maintaining a healthy marriage or living a happy life. This is also a good place to throw in some jokes about wives, weddings or life in general, just as long as it doesn’t upset your wife!
Elysia and Micaiah, I raise my glass to you both to say, “Climb ever higher, stop swearing, and shed plenty of tears of joy as you both make music together.”
aim for a speech that lasts around six to seven minutes in total. Read your speech through at your normal speaking pace to gauge how long this really is.