On September 8, 1979, I stood at the front of the chapel at First Baptist Church of Atlanta as I watched Jim Dodd bring his daughter, Merry, up the aisle to become my bride.
On September 8, 2007, it will be my turn to walk a bride up the aisle. In less than two weeks my daughter, Bethany, will marry David Johnson. And I’m wondering what happened to the last 28 years!
How can we be old enough to have a married daughter? Has it been that long since our own honeymoon? How did Bethany grow up so quickly?
Recently Merry and I watched the movie, “Father of the Bride”—both the 1950 version with Spencer Tracy and the 1991 film with Steve Martin. We could definitely relate to all the scenes about preparing for a wedding—meeting the in-laws, choking at the prices involved in putting on a wedding, etc. But the one small sequence that got to me was when the father stood at the front of the church with his daughter during the wedding ceremony and heard the minister say, “Who gives this woman …? ” And the father thinks, “This ‘woman.’ But she’s just a kid … and she’s leaving us.”
When I look at Bethany, I see a grown woman who will look beautiful in her wedding gown. (I can guarantee that because I’ve seen her in it.) But in my mind she’s still that little girl who was born with a dimple on her right cheek—just like mine.
She’s still that girl who loved making up stories about her dolls and toys … who was entranced by all the old Disney animated movies … who quickly made friends everywhere she went.
She’s that teenager who I taught to water ski … who listened to country music with me every morning when I took her to school … who terrorized her mother and me as she learned how to drive.
When did she become this capable and confident woman?
I suppose many fathers feel the same way as a wedding like this approaches. And then I realize that this is normal, that at some point children will leave their parents (Genesis 2:24) and unite with the spouse that God has given them. I remember that I’m not losing my daughter; I’m gaining a son.
And so I’m approaching this wedding with an odd mixture of emotions. I’m happy for Bethany and David, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with friends and family. And yet I’m sad to see another chapter of life come to an end.
I suppose that’s the way it is for a father of the bride.
© 2007 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
Read Dave's account of Bethany's wedding in "Father of the Bride, Part Two".