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February 10, 2013 / Kate Gross

Legally Wed, Part the First (I suspect)


For many years I have inwardly mocked my friends who tell me that their wedding day was the happiest of their lives. No longer! It appears that one cliché is indeed true. Yesterday was completely magical, and to prolong my wedding high I wanted to share with you the words I said in mine, the first of our speeches. Whilst not delivered as elegantly as I’d like (constricted by my spanx and having had an intimate sicky moment with one of Voewood’s 101 toilets seconds before), they are words which formed in my head pretty much as soon as I got out of hospital last October, and so I’ve been saving them up to share for quite a while. Plus some photos which I have nicked from facebook (thanks Chris!), and of what may be my favourite wedding present, all the way from Sweet Salone. So whilst there may be sad, bad, foxy and folorn times ahead, for the moment wherever you are reading this raise a glass to the Boyle-Grosses, Gross-Boyles, Groyles, or indeed the Boss family. And especially to Oscar who spared Billy and I the humiliating shuffle that would have been our first dance by spectacularly vomiting all over us and the dance-floor through sheer excitement and exhaustion. Hurrah!


There isn’t much which is orthodox about our wedding today, so I know you won’t be surprised to see me standing up to make the first speech to welcome you. So, welcome. We are so pleased to be here today with you all. There are of course lots of things about today that aren’t as I imagined. But when we thought about my wedding day, the one thing that both Billy and I would always have wanted is all of you here to wish us well and to support us in our married life. So thank you for coming all this way, from Ireland, Canada, France, Egypt, Lebanon and London, and thank you to so many grandparents for looking after your kids tonight. And especially big thanks to you wonderful people who have made today happen at short notice and when I couldn’t do much myself. To Jenny for being in charge of everything from music to pudmin and for being my rock. To Kirsten for doing the beautiful flowers. To Annabel and Sarah for being my stylists. To Jo and Jussi for designing the order of service. To Claire for our stunning wedding cake, and to Nadia and Elen for taking our photos and video. We are blessed to have so many talented friends able to do so much to make our special day so perfect.


I wanted to speak tonight not just to prove the point of equality in the Gross-Boyle marriage but also because there are three things I wanted to get on the record in front of you all. These three things have been going round my head since I woke up after my operation in October – and gestating for a long, long time before then.


First, I wanted to say something about my wonderful friends. Over the past 20 years I have managed to gather around me some remarkable, clever, kind and beautiful women, and of course Dave. So especially to my Keble coven, I want raise a glass. Girls, you are the very best thing I that came out of Oxford since Cambridge.


Second, I wanted to talk about my mum and dad. They have somehow managed to pull off the trick of being my dear friends as well as my parents, and the best bonma and bonma Oscar and Isaac could want. You gave Jo and I a sense of wonder at the world, a desire to explore it. And you gave us empathy for people with lives which were very different, and so often so much harder than our own. I will never forget the things you showed me: a mongoose eating a snake by the creek in Dubai, the Living Goddess in Kathmandu, the swimming pool carved out of rock at Les Marecottes. If I can pass this gift of wonder at the world on to Oscar and Isaac it will be the very best thing I do.


Finally I wanted to talk about my darling Billy. I have a lot to say but time is tight so I will save the long version for my blog. The short version is this. I first met Billy when Ian invited him to the house Tammy, Jenny and I shared to play poker one night. We met in the hallway as I exited the loo. I looked at him and thought, first, he was the most handsome man I had ever seen, and second, that somehow I recognised him as someone I had always known. That moment was the closest I have come to being in the movies. It was nine and a half years ago, and I have loved him more and more with every day we’ve spent together since then. As well as being beautiful to look at Billy is the person I most respect in the world. His intellectual curiosity and his quest for self-improvement are a constant source of inspiration and challenge to me. He is kind, thoughtful and steady like the very best kind of Jane Austen hero. He is a wonderful and patient dad who will teach the Oscar and Isaac everything they need to know about both maths and manliness. But most of all, he is my Billy. And everything I am and all I have done is because of him. I love you Billy – Cheers!










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  1. Tiff / Feb 10 2013 10:42 pm

    Fantastic stuff! Massive congratulations to you both! Can’t wait to hear more and see more pics. We raised a glass of bubbles to you as promised,
    Loads of love
    Tiff and Fergus Xxxxxxxx

  2. Anne Marie gibson / Feb 10 2013 11:31 pm

    We all had an amazing time at your beautiful wedding. You both looked so happy and it was great to meet all your friends x

  3. Tanya / Feb 11 2013 12:07 am

    Congratulations! much love Tanya x

  4. emma / Feb 11 2013 10:37 am

    Thank you for the best day – the bride looked beautiful, the groom didn’t scrub up too badly either, and the ring bearers were magnificent. We also loved getting to know Norfolk a bit too, and can see why you love it. Now only Dave and Russell are left – come on boys.

  5. clazza / Feb 11 2013 5:13 pm

    a wonderful magical wedding. we loved every minute. am planting a huge cyber kiss on both of your gorgeous faces now! congratulations.

  6. Emma / Feb 11 2013 9:10 pm

    So pleased to hear your happy news and see your lovely pictures. It sounds like it was the best day ever! Love Emma, Roger, Charlie and Williamxxx

  7. Kirstan / Feb 12 2013 12:43 pm

    Kate, thank you for sharing the day with us via your blog. The exceptional warmth, love and humour of the day has come right through the blogsphere to raise my spirits. I’m raising my glass to you and Billy, the boys, your dear family and friends who helped you so much with it! Big hug, Kirstan

  8. Chris H / Feb 12 2013 9:03 pm

    Wonderful to be there to celebrate with you, congratulations again! xx

  9. Jean Gross / Feb 17 2013 11:18 pm

    It was lovely to have the chance at the wedding to say some nice things about you and your Billy. Here’s our speech.
    Hello I’m Kate’s Mum and I’m doing this bit because fortunately this is the kind of wedding where you can do what you want to not what you’re supposed to – and I wanted to. So on behalf of all our family (though I have to say we do feel like a very small family when compared to the opposition) – Tim, Kate’s Dad, Jo her sister, and me – I want to tell you about Kate and her fantastic Billy.
    Our main memories of Kate as a small child are her abiding desire to be a princess. I’m sort of hoping that after today’s big dress-up we might be able to tick that one off and say job done, Kate? The other memory is of a small voice saying ‘Look-at-a-book-shawee’ whenever Tim or I sat down for even a second. Kate’s head was always full of words and stories. At three she said ‘I keep all my words in – like a bag – a clear bag.’ Now those of us who read her blog can see the power of the words she stored away in the bag.
    As a big sister to Jo, my memory of Kate is of a spot of early biting followed by a rather pointed enquiry when Jo was a few weeks old and the novelty had worn off ‘Is she staying, Mummy?’ Then came years of what some might call sisterly bossiness, and others organisational ability, with Jo cast in various menial roles in Kate’s games. Fortunately, though, Jo remembers none of this. For her, Kate is and always has been just a great sister, and they love each other to bits.
    Back to Kate’s organisational ability. Everyone here who has been her friend for a long time knows it is legendary. If you want something to happen, but Kate in charge – and do as you’re told.
    She has amazing determination and grit, and it has taken her far. We are of course so proud of her being the youngest-ever Big Cheese in the civil service, and of her work at 10 Downing Street, and of what Tony Blair said about that work: ‘You were wonderful, without compare, absolutely indispensable.’
    We’re even more proud of her work leading the Africa Governance charity. There are lots of babies in the countries Africa Governance has worked in who wouldn’t be alive now without it, lots of children getting educated, lots of parents able to find work and feed their families. It really matters.
    We think Kate is pretty remarkable. It’s not every girl who when they get till gets presents from presidents and the world’s best-known philanthropists. Kate is nice as well as clever. People love her.
    Her greatest achievement, though, is none of this. It is finding Billy. We remember when she first told us about him. “I’ve got a new boyfriend and I’m worried that you won’t be able to understand what he says.”
    Well it was a bit of a struggle to start with. But since then we’ve all learned to understand Billy better.
    In the last few months we’ve understood even more about him. We’ve seen his strength of character and organisational ability equal to Kate’s but magnified by his awesome ability to harness technology. We’ve seen a warmth and charm that makes him able to ask assorted disputing and sometimes inadequate medics hard questions, but never cause offence. We’ve seen his ability to help create an innovative twenty-first century business, and a capacity to take risks that makes him as a son-in-law from one moment to the next either a millionaire or completely bust – and we don’t care which. Most of all, we’ve seen him as the best and most hands-on Dad ever, to Oscar and Isaac.
    So I’d like to thank Gerry and Anne for the gift of Billy, and the sense they have given him of the power of ideas and the absolute importance of family.
    Billy and Kate are very different. Kate’s fiction, Billy’s nonfiction. Kate’s a book, Billy’s a kindle. Billy is a scientist and mathematician. Kate, with her gift for words, is not a mathematician; from my letters written when she was a child comes this gem – ‘My ear measures half past one. No – one and a half kilos.’
    Yet despite their differences, Kate and Billy go together. They love to read. They love ideas. They love to talk to each other. And they share a talent for friendship. Around them they’ve collected all you lovely, funny, clever people. Many of you have drifted in and out of our various houses over the years; we’ve loved getting to know you and seeing you here today.
    So thank you all for coming, and thanks to all those who can’t be here today but are enormously important to Kate and Billy – the most important being Tim’s mother Kath, known to us all as Grandear. She will be 99 next week and though too wobbly on her pins to feel confident about being here today, is otherwise exactly the same wonderful m other-in-law I’ve known for forty years, unchanged in mind or spirit. So I ask you to raise your glasses in tribute to her – to Grandear, we are thinking of you!
    To finish, it’s traditional in speeches like these to say something about love and marriage. A few weeks ago we built a snowdog (well, more of a snowpuppy) in the garden with Oscar and Isaac. After a few days he was looking a bit forlorn so I said we should perhaps bring him in and give him some love.
    “What’s love?”said Isaac.
    Gosh. Big question. What do you say? Love is ‘…an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken’? …. ‘the triumph of hope over experience’? …. ‘never having to say you’re sorry’? (Not a good one for a three year old).
    Anyway Kate came up with the answer. ‘’Love is the good feeling you get inside when you cuddle someone.”
    So if that’s love, what is the secret of a long-lasting marriage? My late father (imagine Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice), married to my rather garrulous mother (imagine Mrs Bennet with an Oxford degree) , marked their golden wedding by putting a notice in the Guardian : ‘G. D. and E. W. Miller, celebrating their golden wedding today due to 50 years of mutual marital deafness.’
    More seriously, I have this advice for Kate and Billy. When displeased, never speak to your partner in ways you wouldn’t speak to a dinner guest. I don’t know where it comes from, and it sounds crazy – but it really works.
    So with that advice we wish you many many years of marriage, as many as Tim and I have had and more, and just as happy. To Billy and Kate!

    • Tony Pike / Dec 24 2014 4:16 pm

      Brilliant – I can now see why Kate writes so beautifully – she takes after her Mum

  10. Annie Gibson / Feb 20 2013 2:10 pm

    Jean thank you for putting up your speech it was so lovely to read it again as you don’t always take everthing in first time around. I also want to print them out and keep them so now have yours and Kate’s. Hope we get to hear Ians and Billys again (hint hint) Jenny & Kate get nagging

  11. Laurie Lee / Feb 26 2013 10:40 pm

    Dear Kate
    It’s wonderful to hear you got married. Julie and I have also been engaged for much longer than we’ve had Beau, now 7 years old, but we’ll definitely also take the plunge soon and look forwaard to day as great as yours sounded. Wonderful to hear about that.
    It’s also been very good to re-read all your blogs again today. My sister in law was recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and is much earlier in the treatment process than you and so reading this again has been a real inspiration and at the right time I’ll share it with her. So thank you.
    I smiled reading the blog on golden insides so thought as requested I’d share with you my own experience with that first failure (other than my first driving test but all the best drivers pass 2nd time, right??) and how it really did sort me out in a big way. Like you I sailed through school pretty easily and was just used to being good at most things. Maybe not football but most things. I even scraped a first class degree despite my 1500 word thesis! But that was an omen. 6 months into my MA I just found myself going around in circles. I still never have totally analysed it. But I just couldn’t finish papers. I would read more and more and more and was seeking some ridiculous kind of percection I think. But in many ways it was probably just a fear of that first failure. Eventually, my step-dad Philip, himself a lecturer, just said, why don’t you just stop. You don’t have to finish this. And he set me free. I realised he was right. I took a positive decision to say there’s other things in life not just this. I moved to London and eight years later I was working in 10 Downing St with you – which no Politics MA would have gauranteed me (yes it was a politics MA). And from them on I have been able (I think!) to have a much better balance between perfection and good enough and that way actually get a few things finished. So, losing control ended up giving me a lot more control. Sounds trite maybe but genuine story.
    Very best wishes and would love to see you.

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