Guy’s Time: Father of the Bride

written by CARL DANBURY, JR. | photo courtesy of LIZ ERIKSON PHOTOGRAPHY

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Our new son-in-law Michael asked for permission to marry Samantha on April Fool’s Day. Exactly 292 days later (12 days past the average length of human gestation), the couple was married. Thankfully, there was no correlation between those two dates, just a convenient time for everyone’s schedule, particularly as it concerned the planner, the venue, the caterers, the band and everything else under the sun.

As I write this, only a few days have passed, and while Sam is our third child to be married, she also happens to be the first female. So if we didn’t get this one right, we still have three more chances of orchestrating wedding day bliss! Nine-plus months of planning unfold into a 20-minute ceremony and a four-hour celebration, yet the smiles and memories endure — and that, my friends, is the focal point of your duties as father of the bride.

There are so many options to consider and details to iron out, but the best advice I can share with you is to encourage your daughter and your wife to lean heavily upon friends and those suppliers with whom they will enjoy working to create a timeless, memorable event. There are so many moving parts to the occasion-equation that dividing duties among the family is not only smart, it’s essential. I suggest that you focus on the things you know best, which means unless you spent time as a seamstress in your past life, you can steer clear of bridal shops. Take charge of the beverage ordering or catering, the limousine arrangements, the band or disc jockey or perhaps the hotel, but keep in mind you are likely to be overruled at some point during the planning stages. And, if you are trying to limit the number of guests that actually will attend, invite all of your good college friends that live on the West Coast or other continents.

All of the above have absolutely nothing to do with the wedding ceremony itself, and I was simply unaware of the emotions present during what was about to unfold. My wife, Maureen, our two sons and our three other daughters descended the sweeping staircase and walked down the aisle. When it was our turn, Samantha latched onto my arm in vise-like fashion with the same trepidation as if she was learning to ride a bike for the first time. I squeezed her arm back, trying to reassure her that I wouldn’t let go and was there to pick her up if she fell.

We slowly descended the stairs, and then onto the main floor, with all eyes thankfully fixed upon her. I glanced to my left only to see my sister smiling brightly with tears of joy streaming down her face as we passed. The welcoming smile of the pastor and the memorable glow on Michael’s face as we approached the altar provided me a pleasant calmness. In time, I was asked that question I had heard answered by others nearly a hundred times before, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

I gave the answer, placed Samantha’s hand in Michael’s, sauntered to my seat in the first row, and then clutched Maureen’s hand in the same manner that Sam had grabbed my arm just moments earlier.

There’s a comfort and strength that comes with abiding love, and its grip lasts for as long as we shall live, if we allow it. During times of separation, we will cherish memories such as these. The exhilaration that comes with being father of the bride is second only to each child’s birth and having the ability to spend at least 18 years with them as we watch them become young women. Thanks be to God for such an opportunity and blessing.