Speech Sample

Francesco's Last Rites

Well, what is there to say of Francesco Odman Vitetta?

Born Frankie Kunzer to the tough streets of the industrial north, Francesco grew up the hard way. As the youngest of three boys it was obvious that it was hoped he would be a girl, which maybe explains the size sixteen lace negligee and suspenders in his hotel room this morning.

I cannot of course, speak of Francesco's childhood without mentioning the tragic loss of his mother at such a young age. Like so many of us here she would have been proud and delighted that the balling bundle of joy she held in her arms over thirty years ago, dressed in a pink romper suit with bows in his long hair, is now the man he has become sitting next to the gorgeous woman he has today married. ? Kunzer may not be here in person but so much of what I have heard about her is so apparent in the man I boastfully call my best friend.

Paul Kunzer, student landlord and sometime educator, whom I fear may be responsible for the faint organizational streak that occasionally shows in Francesco is to be commended on moulding such a well rounded individual. Paul kindly forwarded Francesco's school reports at Durham Cathederal School and Oundle. While reading these I found it increasingly hard quite frankly - to keep down my breakfast – this boy was a swat, with commendations of ‘most refreshing and ‘Francesco's keen contributions'. It made me ill just to read them and had to put them down and contact his friends for the real juice – but they will be supplying more of that later. Francesco was not only head boy, head of the Cadet Force a talented and popular pupil – he also showed surprising skills in technical drawing and later dishing out punishments to his now best man for walking on the Chapel Lawns!

Life became a little lonely for this child of the streets, going south to get himself an education had left in an unfamiliar environment – the fitted carpets - the internal plumbing. He turned to his Big Blue Bear for solace and when teddy couldn't console him he began to nurture a penchant for drinking and sadly dancing and occasionally – usually when no dance floor was in site - girls!

Francesco took a year off between school and University. He laughably refers to this as a ‘gap year' as if delivering wine and beer around Newcastle and encountering problems with gravity down at the Ship constituted personal growth. He soon found himself on his travels, broadening his horizons – finding comfort in the familiarity of the advanced hygienic technologies of Old Delhi fish market and the conviviality of the gun smiths in Afghanistan . Travelling was to become a habit he has found hard to break since. Acting as tour guide, a new chapter in his life was opened and ‘Chalet-Girl Kunzer' was born. He managed to navigate around Asia with three of us happy to be pointed in the direction of the local entertainments and sample the ethnic produce. It was at this time that he perfected the New Romantic Pout that somehow managed to enter into every snapshot of our travels.

One of our merry band of globetrotting wasters should really be the man standing here where I am tonight. Guy was sadly taken from our lives some years ago now, but I know he is with us now, definitely whooping with laughter knowing he would be doing a much better job of this than I.

 

Chalet Girl's other and most striking talent came to the fore at UCL. Fortunately as he was studying Geography it was not required to be an academic talent but the skill making and keeping friends as so many of you here tonight are testament to. While slogging his guts out analysing the effects of skiing on the environment he managed to get into and out of many scrapes – usually assisted by Mr Bevan it is hard to list them all however I suspect Jason may well try.

Every year Francesco would arrange a visit to Beadnell back in his beloved Northumberland. On one such occasion Francesco's sportsmanship came to the fore. Rushing back into the room dressed in nine or ten layers of clothes he announced a game of strip kerrplunk that had to start immediately.

On joining Sandhurst he excelled in the Army, leading his year's passing out parade, Treading that narrow path between good friend and that boy your parents always compared you too and you came out woefully lacking! At Sandhurst he perfected the ability of arriving back in time for morning parade and using his uniform and New Romantic poses to best effect.

The army lead him to playing with Tanks, a tour in the former Czechoslovakia and of course more skiing! It was on one of these more tricky military manoeuvres on the slopes of Verbier where he met a Scandinavian bar maid. Like any red blooded Second Lieutenant, he was captivated by her stunning looks, prowess on the slopes and of course the fact that he was a Geordie and she served him drinks! The lack of space for a dance floor in this particular establishment served him well and they were soon an item. Charlie turned out to be quite capable of keeping up with this dashing young officer, indeed on the slopes, the dance floor and any opportunities where her ‘slight' competitive streak could be given an airing – in short she beat him hands down at pretty much everything! He was hopelessly hooked.

 

Francesco had snagged a Swede and soon his fridge would be overrun with cold fish entrails and his flat awash with those bits left over from an Ikea flat-pack.

So now over six years on and more holidays than anyone can count they have been married. Quite obviously a match made in heaven, he serving up the domestic schmorgesboard of cooking, cleaning, and organising a social life that members of the house of Windsor would be hard pushed to maintain and Charlie quite relieved at all that being done. It's not that Charlie can't do all that and rumours of her using the smoke alarm as the oven timer are unfair and overstated!

Now, working for Singer and Freidlander he is alleged to have his own pass-code for the photo-copying machine and is less called upon to make everyone else's coffee. These lofty heights and the recent spate of fleecing unsuspecting charitable funds have paid for the honeymoon – the destination of which he revealed while slumped in a corner during his stag night. Charlie - I am told Bradford is delightful at this time of year. On the issue of his stag night – Francesco also revealed a talent for gaining a second, third and even fourth wind as the rest of us watched his amazing plate throwing antics in China town at 4 in the morning he became alarmingly re-animated and the frivolities were called to a close before Mr Bellfield needed hospitalisation for a serious crockery related injury.

It is now time for me to mention those who sadly cannot be with us tonight – but who are in our thoughts. Major and Mrs Ollie Nurton who's recent addition to the family has kept them in England, Will and Tamsin Mann who have contracted a similar affliction – both with baby girls so congratulations all round.

I cannot of course pass up this opportunity without imparting a word of advice to the bride, it was a gem my wife was sadly given on the occasion when Francesco was indeed my best man - Charlie - if he's giving you all that you ask for, then you clearly aren't asking for enough. And Francesco a pearl thrown before this particular swine - A man who gives in when he is wrong is a wise man. A man who gives in when he is right stays married.

I must of course give thanks to our consummate hosts – Jan and ? Odman who have provided us all with a breathtaking occasion we will find it hard to forget.

I am sure you will all agree – they make a most beautiful couple – please be upstanding for the bride and groom. Francesco!

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