A Love Letter to a Wedding

For Niza, Liz & Hazel.

Here follows the speech which I gave at my eldest God Daughter’s wedding ceremony yesterday, held near Lusaka, in the African country of Zambia, which she has graciously allowed me to publish and share…

Greetings to you all.

As the pastor says, my name is Sandra, and I’m here as God Mother of the bride Elizabeth, and together with the bride’s mother, have travelled from England to Zambia, with other cherished family and friends: to stand, sit and celebrate with you all today, for the most precious of reasons. That being the joining of a man and a woman in marriage – cementing their family ties, with the coming together of their clans from across the globe, not forgetting of course, one very special little lady – Hazel Yande.

My speech

And Hazel here, is made of Niza and Elizabeth, so let me tell you a little of what that means….

I’ll start with Liz, for Liz I’ve known the longest, since before she was born in fact. Now the name Elizabeth has a biblical beginning, from the Hebrew, Elisheva (אֱלִישֶׁבַע), meaning “Gift of God.” And Liz really is a gift in so many ways, to those that know and love her, and in the work that she does, across the world and for the world, from Zambia, to Geneva. And, I truly have to say Liz, not just today, as the beautiful bride, but that every single day, you make us all so very proud.

Now as for Niza, his name means “I have arrived” in the Bemba tongue, a name of bounty, goodness and quiet strength. Now I don’t know this man as well as this woman, as yet… But what I do know I like a lot, not that this really signifies, for Liz and Niza have chosen each other and that the only really important thing.

So now to their daughter, Hazel, which is a nature name, literally ‘belonging to the place of the Hazelnut tree’. It derives from the Old English word, hæsel and is also a colour, which is a beautiful blend of green, gold and brown.

For me, today, Hazel doesn’t belong to that tree, she IS the tree, growing towards the sun, sheltered by her family and giving the grace of her shade and fruit, in so very many ways. And did you know that her middle name Yande means “Joy”? Well of course it does, for so she is!

Hazel Yande

So that’s what their names signify, telling some of the story of who they are, where they come from and so naturally, where they’re going to.

And today we all come together to formalise, legalise and rejoice in this union; this joining of man and woman, born of two different continents.

So often in history and geology we’ve been told that when continents collide, wars and earthquakes happen. And we know the way of the world. Yet isn’t it also a truth that when continents collude, that most divine of occurrences, a Hazel will happen…

And this most cherished child here, born of 2 continents, she isn’t a bridge between 2 wonderful people, their cultures and families. No – she is a strong, living tree with roots running down into the soil of two lands, anchoring the world firmly and holding us all in the branches of that tree, with her love, joy and infectious laughter.

The ceremony

Have you HEARD Hazel laugh? To hear this gorgeous girl giggle, well it feels like freedom – the sweetest weightlessness, as time stops and you share in that gorgeous moment of total happy abandon to the joy she feels and expresses, so delightfully and completely.

And here today, as we are all part of this tree, along it’s different yet united branches, we’re all held in the sunshine and storms of life, yet we’ll all continue to grow, together.

And these 3 have pledged to grow together as a family, to share their destiny and shine a light on the future.

And I can see many wonderful futures, for them all, yet for today I say: to Niza, Liz and Hazel I wish you a long, blessed and happy marriage, full of tolerance, harmony and an abundance of love.

To the new Lupambo family!

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