A week after my daughter’s wedding, I woke up on Saturday morning with a strange feeling. I realized I could do whatever I wanted that day. No house to clean, no weeds to pull, no wedding to prepare for.
For months, Missy’s approaching wedding had dominated our lives. If you’ve been through a daughter’s wedding, you know what I’m talking about. We lived in a strange world where we thought about little else but flowers and dresses and tuxedoes and wedding programs and photos and videos and airline reservations and home repairs and decorations.
It all led up to a crazy and wonderful week of parties and big dinners, culminating in the bridal luncheon and rehearsal dinner on Friday and the ceremony and reception on Saturday, August 8. When it was all over, I woke up to a quiet house and my mind was tired and sore. I felt like a deflated balloon, and I found myself pondering deep questions like, What am I going to do with the rest of my life?
And then, as the days passed I remembered that this wedding wasn’t about me, anyway. This wedding was the latest chapter in a story about a young girl, Missy, who grew up in Little Rock with her parents and her older sister, and a young boy, Ryan, who grew up a couple miles away with his parents and two siblings.
They attended the same school from kindergarten to senior high, and were in the same class several times, yet they didn’t become interested in each other until a week before they graduated from high school. But once they found each other, they stuck like glue. They were together throughout college, and after two years of dating it became pretty obvious to family and friends that they would end up married.
Because Ryan and Missy have known each other so long, and because both have been so loyal to their childhood friends, the rehearsal dinner was remarkable for its sense of familiarity. Of Missy’s bridesmaids, one has been a friend since they were two and a half years old, two more since they were in kindergarten, and another since middle school. And they all had known the bridegroom since they were children; the night almost felt like a high school reunion.
Before the wedding people asked me if I would be emotional, giving away the baby of the family. My wife, Merry, cried, but I stuck to my usual stoic form. For me, tears seem to come at unexpected times, like when I look through 23 years of photographs and videos and feel overwhelmed by a sense of loss at how quickly those years flashed by.
What I remember most about the wedding day was the joy I saw in Missy and Ryan. Their day had finally arrived. The pastor performing the ceremony read letters they had written to each other, and the four parents were all surprised at the eloquence of the words and at the depth of the love they felt for each other. We had never heard Ryan or Missy say anything like that before.
The ceremony and reception went by in a blur, and before I knew it we were waving goodbye as Missy and Ryan drove off to begin their life together. Like every other newlywed couple before them, they have no idea what they will face in the years ahead. But no matter what they will face, they will have each other.
And as this father of the bride ponders what I’m going to do with the rest of my life now that both of my daughters are married, I know I can face the years ahead with the happy knowledge that I no longer have any weddings to pay for.
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