As we make our way into July, it is of course, the height of wedding season.  I have had the honor and privilege of being the best man in three weddings.  Each man has meant something different in my life, and I have truly been humbled to hold such a place in their lives.  I love you all dearly.  As one to never be able to just riff “off the cuff” for wedding toasts, I would spend much time crafting a speech with juuuuuust the right amount of sentiment.  Digging around my hard-drive the other day, I came across all three gems…

 

JONATHAN (speech given on July 10, 2010 )

Jonathan, our friendship has gone back quite a ways.  I had to go back to my elementary school days as a kid for my earliest memories of you.  Growing up; if I was good boy.  If I got all my homework done.  My mom would take me to the Toy Chest.  Now to those not familiar, the Toy Chest was a family toy store run by the Newcomers, and it had everything a little boy could want.  All kinds of toys and games, and even a rollercoaster in the backyard.  But most of all, I was extremely jealous of the little boy, who at my age, actually lived inside that toy store. 

I got to know Jonathan growing up.  From youth group at the Bakerstown Presbyterian Church, going to school at Mars, keeping in touch as you went off to Wittenberg, and reconnecting after college splitting hockey tickets to watch Penguins games.  Which, by the way, I don’t consider it a coincidence that the Penguins first trip back to the Stanley Cup Finals in 16 years was during that time.  The Penguins are going to need some of that good luck that you took down to Florida with you for next season.

For some years however, you can’t talk about Jonathan without Amanda.  The two have been inseparable, and I couldn’t tell you the first time I met Amanda.  But I do recall, early on in the relationship, spending a day with them at the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Golf Invitational.  It was a tad life-threatening because as we found out; if you’re a celebrity, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good golfer.  As we ducked from golf balls whizzing by our heads and as I planned out the fastest route to the hospital in case of emergency, I noticed that they were great couple, and in my eyes something special was going on.

It’s easy to see the love you two share together.  Through years of long distance and the occasional trying circumstance, your special love for each other has endured.  And it’s that kind of love; a lasting, caring, unselfish love that touches the heart – and reminds all of us of what true love should be.  It’s truly an honor to be here today to share this celebration with you. 

It is my hope, as we raise our glasses to the newlyweds, that this marriage would be continually blessed – and not just with Stanley Cup victories and successfully dodging golf balls – but with a lifetime of happiness and love.  Congratulations!

jonathan

 

MATT (speech given on June 30, 2012)

Pops.  Waffles.  Frankie.  Matt has earned more nicknames during our time at Waynesburg than any other person I know.  The “Pops” nickname goes back to the very first day at college when I first met Matt.  It was freshmen orientation, and I knew very few people there.  Now you have to understand that when I first met Matt, he had quite a beard going, and for someone who can’t grow facial hair for the life of himself, I was a little intimidated by this seemingly older man.  I thought he has to be 5 or 10 years older than me.  Hence, the nickname Pops.  Soon after, the beard would be gone, but our friendship has endured.  Matt, you’ve always been level-headed, clear-thinking, and always the voice of reason during our time in college together.  That is, until it came to sports.  I would soon come to find out that Matt was a sports nut.  He had a passion for sports statistics.  He knew the on base percentage of any baseball player or quarterback accuracy rating of any third string QB.  It was amazing.  He would passionately argue that “this was the year” for the Toronto Blue Jays or Miami Dolphins. 

Pops, I’m still waiting. 

 Now, it wasn’t until the end of my college career that I was first introduced to Laura.  But, I became aware of her passion early on.  I’m a big hockey fan.  And relatively early in their relationship I was having a party to watch a hockey game where it just so happened that one of the teams that was playing has the mascot of a duck.  So I’m on the phone with Matt, and he asks if he can bring his girlfriend.  I say, “sure no problem.”  So during the conversation I’m told that Laura has a “thing” for ducks, and is going to bring a few over.  Again I say, “sure no problem.”

 Boy, was that a mistake. 

 When they arrived Laura came in with two GARBAGE bags full of ducks.  Before long my house was covered in ducks!  Ducks that quacked, ducks that lit up, rubber duckies, stuffed ducks.  You name it – she had it.  I was overwhelmed.  I can only hope that Laura’s love of ducks is surpassed only by her love for Matt.

So in closing, as we raise our glasses to Pops and Laura.  Let’s toast to the happy couple.  To years filled with everlasting love…and the occasional duck.  Good luck you two.

matt

 

LEE (speech given August 11, 2012)

I came to know Lee in high school.  Now we’re a few years apart in age, but I can distinctly remember the first day in chorus class waiting for the scared freshmen to come filtering in.  And then in walked Lee.  Wearing sandals, hair down to his shoulders, hemp necklace, my first impression was, “what bus did this guy fall from?”  Luckily, first impressions aren’t permanent.  And we quickly became the best of friends.

Now Rose, let me tell you about a few things I learned about Lee during those first couple of years I got to know him.

Music.  Music very much defines Lee’s utmost passion and I would come to know that music permeates his life.  An accomplished pianist, he has mastered multiple instruments and made his presence known in the theater.  I can remember his leading role as Duke Norton in Yankee Doodle and the standing ovation at Susquehanna where I first heard music performed that was composed entirely by himself.  His musical passion has led him into a career in teaching where he shapes the young musicians of tomorrow.  His only musical failure I ever noticed was one summer when I tried to get him to teach me to play the harmonica.  Now he was very patient with me, but my instrumental career never got past picking out a few bars of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.”  You don’t know how often I wanted to throw that stupid thing away, but to this day I still have that harmonica, so…it’s all about the small victories, Lee.

Driving.  Please Rose, if you value your life, volunteer to take the wheel whenever possible.  If you’ve ever seen his vehicles over the years, they bear the scars of his rather checkered past; whether it be running out of gas, bumping into things – say a lightpost, the unsuspecting parked car next to him, or the occasional driveway retaining wall on New Years Eve.  None could stand up to Lee’s driving ability. 

But all kidding aside, what this all adds up to is friendship.  I’ve been extremely lucky to experience this first hand.  Years of conversation, years of memories, years of growing from boys into men…sometimes awkwardly, our friendship has meant so much to me that I would like to think the past 12 years has been like having you as a brother in my life.

E Joseph Crossman summed it perfecting saying, “love is friendship put to music.”  Let’s raise our glasses, to toast the happy couple.  To years filled with beautiful music.

lee