The Groom’s Toast

The Groom’s Toast Of Fairy-Tale Proportions

Charles O’Niell

Coaching was in John Craig’s blood. A couple of days before the wedding, we were sitting in his living room in Edinburgh, and he told Charles that he should have a best man and that I should have a bridesmaid. So Charles asked John and I asked Sharon McPherson to ‘stand up for us’, as we say in the States. Then John told Charles that he must give a toast to Sharon, and although Charles preferred not to be the centre of attention, he took the instruction to heart and said the following words at the reception.—Ed.

Well, I’m going to propose a toast, but first of all I’d like to tell you all a little about the history of how this all came to happen. I’m sure there’s a lot of curiosity and a lot of questions, because this is a very unusual event, for sure—certainly in our lives, and I guess for everybody.

It all really began about five years ago, when Diana came to Scotland and actually visited the church in Dalserf. I’ve known Diana for about three years now, and we’ve talked about that many times. She’s always indicated what an important thing that was in her life, because this is where her grandfather had lived and gone to church. I wanted to come to Scotland, and Diana did too—again—and so that’s always been a very big wish that we had.

The other thing that we wanted to do was get married. And we figured out a way we could put those two things together. Basically, we wanted to have a rather quiet [laughter]—let me explain—quiet and uncomplicated wedding, and we also wanted to go to Scotland, and so we said—actually Diana suggested—‘Well, why don’t we get married in Dalserf?’ She probably had no idea that I would actually take her up on the idea—seize it—but it certainly sounded like a wonderful thing to do. And that was the germ of the idea.

The next thing to do was to call Diana’s good friend over here, John . . . John Craig. Mr Craig was very supportive of this idea and he got the ball rolling. He knew the McPhersons and Mr Macdonald, and of course was very familiar with the church. Actually, Diana met Mr Craig when she was here five years ago with her mom. They were visiting the church and Mr Craig, as an architect, was very involved with the church. He basically renovated the church, so there was a chance meeting there. After that, they saw one ­another in Edinburgh [and have kept in touch] since that time. So we had an important person that could help us here in Scotland, because I guarantee you it is not a cinch to plan a wedding 3,000 miles away. Having talked to Mr Craig at that point, I began to believe that it was really going to happen. I mean, it really is of fairy-tale proportions when you think about it.

The other important part of the thing was that Sharon McPherson got very involved. I think it must’ve captured Sharon’s imagination. She ended up doing a tremendous amount of the ground work, and for sure none of this would have been possible without Sharon’s help.

I have no idea how many hours she’s worked on this wedding, but probably many more hours than we have. So we owe a debt of gratitude there.

We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the people of Dalserf. We, in our wildest imagination, could never have anticipated such a warm reception. It’s like we live here—and we don’t feel like strangers. That was one of the things that we kind of wondered about, I guess you could say had misgivings about, not having all our friends over here . . . and family. And now we’re over here, but we feel like we’re very much amongst friends. And friends, I might add, that we hope to see in the future because it is for certain we’re going to come back. [To Diana:] Correct? [Applause.]

I think it’s fair to say that we for sure didn’t anticipate that this was going to be a media event [laughter]. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, but in any case it’s an interesting sideline and certainly will give us a lot of fun stories to tell our friends back home.

But I think enough said on that subject. The main reason I’m standing up here is to propose a toast to Sharon McPherson, our matron of honour, and John Craig, my best man. Thank you all for everything you did. It’s fabulous! [The toast is drunk by all.]

There’s one other thing I don’t want to fail to say. I want to thank Mrs Murray and all the people in Dalserf for giving us this nice video. Because I can tell you, nobody back home would believe any of this. Word of mouth would not get it. So here we have proof that it actually happened! [Applause.]

Transcribed from the video made by Frank Logan, 3 August 1985