In my entry two posts ago, I had no idea what to say for my best man toast at my brother’s wedding.
And once I found an idea, apparently everyone else stole bits and pieces. Malcolm, during his toast to both Stephen & Tara at the rehearsal dinner, made the mention of knowing Tara her whole life. He even added the “literally” bit to it.
Then during Tara’s maid of honor, Christie’s toast, it was a poem full of football references. Thunder officially stolen! But at the end of the day, I really enjoyed what I came up with and it sounds like everyone else did as well. I wasn’t nervous but did sound it, after bouncing around from spot to spot on my notes. But it happens! I made it through alive (as did everyone else) and even got a few laughs.
So I present to you…
The Best Man’s Speech
First, I’d like to thank everyone who made this weekend’s festivities possible – My mom and step dad, Cindy and Gary Clark, for the dinner last night, Mr. and Mrs. Weeks for the beautiful ceremony and gathering tonight, all of the guests able to be here tonight to celebrate, and last but not least, Stephen and Tara for giving us all the great reason to celebrate.
For those of you I have not had the pleasure to meet yet, I’m Matthew Jerdan, Stephen’s best man and older brother.
I’ve known Stephen for his whole life. Literally. Normally, I’d love to stand up here and tell you a quirky, embarrassing story about how we met and forged our friendship. But really, there’s not much to it. Sure, it seemed exciting at the time but looking back now, I’m sure that one of us just needed a diaper change.
If you knew both of us growing up, you’d know that we started out nothing alike. I was the shy, calculated brother. Stephen was the outgoing, personable one. I loved school. He loved to hate everything about school. I followed the rules and fell in line. Stephen marched to the beat of his own drum. Even in college, I did my first year at Clemson University where almost my entire family had gone before me. Stephen followed my parents out to Phoenix and did a year at Arizona State University before transferring and following the bloodlines to Clemson.
Eventually though, we both started running out of friends to room with in college. With some encouraging and pushing from our parents, we ultimately wound up as roommates. It wasn’t until that year of living together that we started getting along and hangout out with one another. What really seemed to bring us together was our obsession with all things Clemson football. We started going to games together and making it through the weeks talking anything college football related. It’s because of those differences growing up and then later, the common ground we found by living together that makes me honored and grateful to be standing here as his best man today.
And since I need to take credit when it’s due, fittingly enough, football is also how I unknowingly helped introduce Tara and Stephen three years ago to this very weekend. Clemson’s coach had just been fired and I bought two tickets to see Dabo’s Clemson coaching debut. Stephen hadn’t planned on going, so I bought the extra ticket to drag him along with me. We met up with one of my friends who happened to be tailgating with several of Tara’s friends. And for the first time in my life, I was the one who had to coax Stephen into hanging out with our new friends after the game instead of staying in. Normally, I’m the one who needs the convincing. That night, in front of pizza and football, Stephen had found someone more interesting than the games on TV.
Even though Stephen and Tara were off to a good start, it was my first glimpse of Tara’s biggest flaw – she is the bearer of bad luck for any Clemson football game. Earlier in the day, Clemson had lost the Georgia Tech game. Later in the 2008 season, a group of us had planned a trip to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl to see Clemson play Nebraska. Even though we had a good time, the Tigers lost to the Cornhuskers. The next season, Gabe, Stephen, Tara and myself were excited to see Clemson play in its first ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech in Tampa. Clemson lost on the last drive of the game. Then last season, the same four of us met in Alabama to take in the Clemson vs Auburn game. This time, the loss came in overtime on a missed field goal. After the regular season, Clemson was invited to Charlotte for their bowl game against South Florida. I think you get the picture by now.
Also, for any Clemson fans here tonight, I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance. We have already bought tickets to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte later this year.
Despite all of the losses though, I’m grateful to be gaining a wonderful sister in law. After all, how can I not like someone who’s willing to tag along and enjoy our Jerdan boys’ crazy football trips?
But much more importantly, my brother is getting an amazing person as his wife. Anyone who has spent any time around the both of them realizes how great of a relationship they share. Their personalities complement each other perfectly. Stephen has introduced Tara to his off-the-wall, last-minute, spontaneous football trips and personality. And Tara has been able to do something that no one in our family had been able to do… give him the motivation to finish college.
Since that day in October three years ago, they’ve been great to one another, as well as for each other.
And even though this means many more Clemson losses down the road, I want to congratulate both of you on your special day today and the life you’ll now share together.
If you’d all join me in a toast… Here’s to a lifetime of happiness and love for Stephen and Tara.