I love weddings. That is unless it’s one of my own kids getting married. Then I hate weddings.
See, when you attend other people’s weddings or the weddings of their spawn, you get to relax, enjoy free food & booze, and, if you are a writer, like moi, sit back and quietly critique (much to the embarrassment of one Mrs. Nickels) the wedding vows the bride and groom wrote for each other.
When it’s someone else’s wedding, you get to sit around and watch this diverse mass of invited humanity do and say stupid things to and with each other that is sure to end up either on America’s Funniest Video’s or be posted on somebody’s YouTube channel under the heading of Epic Fail.
But there is one guy I look for at a wedding to whom I feel a certain kinship. A guy who is really there by himself lost in his thoughts and feelings amidst the celebration of two people beginning their lives together. I am, of course, talking about The Father of The Bride.
On this day of bliss, it’s The Father of The Bride who is the one will be in a negative position when everything about today is said and done. Not only has he shelled out massive amounts of money for an event that, he hopes, is a once in a lifetime thing and not end up being, like most marriages in Hollywood, an ever reoccurring three-year-event. Sure, it was the Mothers of The Main Participants and The Main Participants themselves (the bride and groom) who were the ones picking out flower arrangements. The group argued over the size, shape, and taste of the teetering, but precariously balanced wedding cake (which I never eat because I hate cake). World War Three almost started when it came to the invitations that had his name on it only because The Father of The Bride is really a “supporting cast member”, much like what Mrs. Nickels said I was when listing the occupation/role of the father in regards to our kids birth certificates. But there is one thing that the Mothers of The Participants and Main Participants themselves could agree upon, was the answer to the same question that every wedding vendor would eventually come cascading across his/her/their lips: “Okay, Who gets the bill?”
To which they would all point, much like a team of finely tuned Nazi synchronized swimmers, to the end of the table where a guy, trying to nurse a bottle of some sort of adult beverage, would be finishing the signing of a contract with The Prince of Darkness himself for the sale of one soul in turn for the funds to pay for this fiasco.
And do you know something? It’s not the cost of this event that has saddened this man. Every Dad in the world would love to give his daughter the most fairytale wedding that she had ever imagined. Dad’s spare no expense or effort just to see his little girl smile. No, it’s not the loss of the money that has got him down: It’s the loss of her last name.
Let me explain.
Recently, our youngest daughter, Thumper, got married. And before most of you ask, yes, I did run a background check, like every other Dad does on his future son-in-law, to make sure Bobby was a good guy…and he passed!
Anyway, here we are at the wedding. I am walking my baby girl down the aisle. She looked beautiful! It wasn’t a big wedding by any stretch of the imagination. They both wanted a very simple ceremony and just wanted family and friends to have a good time and to help them celebrate their future lives together.
I walk her down the aisle and the minister says “Who gives this woman away in marriage?”
To which I mentally am replying “Do I have to? I just got her! She still has that newborn baby girl smell to her. My time with her isn’t done yet! She’s a Daddy’s Girl! I didn’t sign off of this! Heck, I didn’t even sign off on her attending Kindergarten. My wife forged my signature so she could go. C’mon people. Let me keep her for another 30 or 40 years then we can readdress this issue then.”
Yes, all that and more was running through my mind when I was asked that horrid question of “Who gives this woman away in marriage?”
But instead I said what I was supposed to say (because Mrs. Nickels wouldn’t let me say anything else under the penalty of a death so painful, that decorum and International Law prevent me from telling you what it would be) “Her Mother and me.”
At which time I put the hand of my youngest daughter Thumper in the hand of my future son-in-law, Bobby, turned around and sat next to my wife. Then I watched and listened. Because in a little over the next 15 minutes, there were some incantations by said wedding official to which followed words of agreement between Thumper and Bobby. And without any warning, trick photography, lights from Heaven itself, I saw my daughter change before my eyes.
She was no longer that beautiful (and de-slimed) tiny baby I held when Mrs. Nickels gave birth to her almost a quarter of a century ago. She was no longer the little Daddy’s girl that would enjoy bringing me half cups of coffee (because she spilled the top half coming from the kitchen to my office) while I was working in my home office. She was no long that little girl who would crawl into Mrs. Nickels and my bed in the middle of a stormy night, climb between us, nuzzle next to me, put her arm over my chest and say “My Daddy” as she drifted back to sleep. She was no longer that little girl in pigtails who would say every time we went to the grocery store “Daddy, please buy me a candy bar and I would love you forever.” She was no longer the young lady who boys would look at in high school and I would be right there to disembowel if they took one step closer to my baby girl. She was no longer that life-innocent young woman who left our home to go live with her sister when she got old enough to spread her own wings. No, she was no longer my little girl anymore, she was now someone else wife. She was now Mrs. Bobby Amanek.
After the vows were said and we had left the church and arrived at where the reception was at, I took out my phone and pulled up my contact list. The hardest thing I had to do was erase her old last name and input her married name. Today, I lost a daughter and I lost her having my name. But to be honest with you, I am happy for her. Because my loss is hers, and Bobby’s, gain.
Deep down I know I haven’t really lost my daughter, I’m watching her begin a new life filled with the many challenges two young people in love are going to be facing together as Man and Wife. There will be ups. There will be downs. There will be disagreements. There will be victories and defeats. But, to be honest with you, I wouldn’t change a thing for her.
Because I’m her father…and I love her that much.
Now if you will excuse me, Thumper, I mean Mrs. Amanek is calling me on my phone and I can’t wait to hear what happens next.