As I sat and thought about what I was going to write for this post, it hit me.
What happened to October?
Gif c/o Tenor user Crucifisso21
Then I realized what happened. My daughter Maria’s wedding happened. In October.
It was a wonderful day, just the type of wedding a father wishes for his only daughter. Even though the venue was indoors, I started checking the weather forecast two weeks out because nobody chooses to have their wedding on a rainy day. Plus, I didn’t want family and guests getting wet walking from their cars to the venue. And there was a horse-drawn carriage scheduled to take the happy couple away at the end of the evening.
So, yeah, there I was, checking my weather app every day. Sometimes twice a day.
Aw, how that date would change so many times
The planning for Maria’s wedding started way back in November 2018. That’s not a typo. Maria and my wife visited venues, met with caterers, went to cake tastings, and built out the plan. Things were coming together as the year tipped over to 2020 and Maria’s much-hoped-for symmetrical wedding date of 10-10-2020.
It was a date she had her heart set on back when her now-husband popped the question. Unfortunately, like so many other couples, the wedding had to be postponed until this year. And that meant more planning, revisions to the plan, and revisions to the revisions.
As I toiled away in my office sending out queries for my murder mystery, If Words Could Kill, apparently all-things wedding kicked into high gear as final preparations were made. A last dress fitting in Nashville. Groomsmen getting their suits. The final headcount for the caterer. Boxes full of stuff for various tables showing up on my dining room table.
I used the word “apparently” because to me, the wedding was still way off in the future. It just didn’t seem like it was fast approaching.
I could have sworn these were taken just last week… (photo c/o 1994)
I think the day snuck up on me because of all the time leading up to the wedding, and the fact that Maria and her mom had everything under control. They weren’t coming to me with questions or asking for help. That is, until the wedding was three weeks out, when Maria dropped by the house to ask me a “quick question”.
A very big question.
One I never saw coming.
“Dad, our officiant had to back out. Would you like to marry us?”
“Um, yes, I really do. But, can I think about it?”
Yeah, you know what I was worried about. For all the fathers out there with daughters, imagine officiating your daughter’s wedding. Your only daughter. In front of everybody. That’s right. Waterworks.
Maria was very understanding and said she would ask her brother, Michael, if I didn’t think I could do it. That took some pressure off me because Michael and Maria are very close, and I knew he could and would crush it. But I told her I needed to really think about it because I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.
I refuse to accept that the baby in this picture is all grown up (photo c/o 1989)
Later that day, Maria emailed me the ceremony script. As I read it alone in my office, emotions crept in. And there was my answer. If I couldn’t read those words silently in my office, how in the heck was I going to be able to look into Maria’s eyes and say all this stuff? I called her and said I really, really wanted to do it, but no way I could do it. I was going to have a hard enough time holding it together walking her down the aisle.
And as I read that ceremony script, it really hit me. My little girl was getting married. Soon. Real soon. A day she has dreamed about since a child. A day as a father I have dreamed about since Maria was a cute little three-year-old. A day that—
I still had to get my suit. And find my ties (remember – I’m retired). And see if I had a suitable shirt (yeah, that whole retired thing again). And check my shoes. And belt.
In other words, I went into scramble mode.
Actual texts from October 5th & 6th. My daughter’s wedding was the 9th.
The days flew by and before I knew it, we were all at a wonderful rehearsal dinner and the bridal party was practicing the entrance. Our fantastic viola player, William, was also there playing the entrance music so he could get the timing down. And it was a darn good thing he was there, too.
Because Maria had been keeping a secret from me.
A very big secret.
Her entrance music.
“Beauty and the Beast.”
Her absolute favorite of the Disney princess movies.
So, there I am walking her twenty feet through the restaurant as William played that beautiful song. Those first few notes smacked me in the face. Hard. And yep. A little watery. I told Maria as we walked it was a good thing I was hearing the song there for the first time and not at the wedding because…
On the day of the wedding, Maria made sure everyone in the bridal party had their arrival times for pictures at the venue. Throughout the entire process, she had been an absolute rock star with all the planning and making sure everybody knew their roles, etc. Things progressed that day with military precision.
She even managed to sneak in time for a “selfie” with her dad
Suddenly, the bridal party had all walked down the aisle and it was just Maria and I standing alone in the back with her on my arm. She was such a beautiful bride who showed no nerves whatsoever.
Until right then.
Less than one minute before we were to make our entrance. The moment we both dreamed about for so many years.
Maria blew out and said, “Okay, Dad, now I’m getting nervous. I mean, really nervous.”
I realized I had one more job to do as her father before walking her down that aisle. I leaned over and said, “I made it.”
She pulled her head back and looked at me with a quizzical face.
I smiled and said, “I lived.”
That got a good laugh out of her. You see, I walk four miles every day, regardless of the weather. The day before, I wanted to go on my walk and there were severe thunderstorms in the area. Maria, who was on the phone with my wife at the time, made it quite clear I wasn’t going to get killed by a lightning strike the day before her wedding.
So now she asked, “You ready to walk me down the aisle?”
And then we got our cue to get moving.
I think that little moment helped both of us because I had no problem holding it together going down that aisle and Maria was back to being relaxed. Okay, almost no problem.
As I watched my only son being the officiant at my only daughter’s wedding, his kid sister, I knew I made the right decision not to officiate. Not only because I would have been choking up, but also because it was so wonderful for me to see as a father. It made what was already a beautiful ceremony so much more special. And as I expected, Michael crushed it.
The last hurdle I had to get over was the Father-Daughter dance. But Maria made it easy on me because she chose a song that had a special meaning for us that brought back great memories. Fun memories. And fortunately, not mushy memories. So, as we slowly danced together to “Piano Man,” the two of us belted out all the lyrics, sometimes with our heads laid back in full throat. It was awesome. I don’t know about Maria, but for me, it was just the two of us in the room having a blast. Just like we did with that song many years ago.
Throughout the rest of the evening, all I could do was smile. Not just because the reception was super fun with great food, dancing, and a photo booth that resulted in some hilarious pictures. But also because Maria was happy. Truly happy. I have been to countless weddings over the years, but I have to say, Maria was by far the happiest bride I have ever seen. She was beaming the entire night. And as a dad, how can you not smile when your daughter is that happy.