From the start, I know Rebecca and Jake’s wedding day will be one to remember! I begin the day alone, putting the final touches on the ceremony. I have the assignment of being daddy and minister for my chocolate buddy, Rebecca Jean “Joy Susie Q” Rainey. As I review my notes, I’m not sure that I will make it through the entire ceremony without becoming a blubbering daddy.

Five women organize a hostile takeover of our bathroom as they sing, “Going to the chapel … and we’re gonna to get maaaarrrrried!” Amidst the giggles and chorus, hot rollers and makeup bags, my wife and daughters completely abandon all pretense of solemnity and thoroughly enjoy preparing Rebecca for her day of glory.

The phone rings, and it’s the bus driver. The remainder of the 11 bridesmaids (Jake is one of 12 children and Rebecca has five siblings) are supposed to be picked up at 9:15 a.m. to come to our house. It’s now 9:30 a.m. and the driver says no one is there.

Meanwhile downstairs, Dr. Michael Escue (my daughter Ashley’s husband) is busy putting together five framed pictures, which are to be used during the reception. A few grandkids are running around.

I see Rebecca in her wedding gown and get a lump in my throat, wondering again if I’ll make it through the ceremony. I think, What a beautiful bride.

The photographer arrives and begins shooting pictures of Rebecca. The bus arrives with the final deposit of bridesmaids. I scream as the bus backs up to turn around and comes within a gnat’s eyelash of backing into our car. The bus jerks to a stop, with micro-centimeters to spare.

The living room is declared off limits, as the covey of bridesmaids gets ready in unison. Our 17-year-old cat, Snow White, runs for cover (and doesn’t come out for three days).

Picture shooting continues. We discover that the one patch of green grass that I’ve been cultivating and babying all summer for some spectacular pictures of Rebecca was raided the night before by a herd of armadillos! I count over 100 holes, each three-inches deep.

In the kitchen, my son-in-law Michael and my son Samuel are talking about Uta, otherwise known as methalenee blue. It’s a pill given to patients who have a urinary tract infection. It calms the bladder and turns the urine blue. Jake’s dad slips a Uta pill into Jake’s orange juice and the men in the kitchen laugh about what Jake will do when he finds out.

Seven of our eight grandchildren are now here for pictures, and I’m thinking our house isn’t big enough for all these little people, plus their parents and two cheerleading squads of bridesmaids. Tyler, my 2-year-old grandson, is being bribed to smile with white chocolate. (If you’d seen what he was wearing, you’d understand why it is white chocolate!)

After a couple hundred pictures in 100-degree heat, all 14 girls plus grandkids plus Rebecca pile into the bus to head to the church.

It’s 11:15 a.m., and the house is quiet for the first time. Barbara and I catch our breath, and then head to the church.

A few hundred pictures later (if you think I’m kidding, Jake’s dad, Bill, sent us 822 digital pictures … and that was after he deleted the bad ones), it’s finally time for the wedding.

The grand entrance of the bride is to be preceded by our grandchildren and some nephews and nieces (all seven years and under). I am standing arm-in-arm with Rebecca, when someone shouts, “Peterson isn’t here. Where’s Peterson?” Peterson is Samuel’s young son who has only one speed—fast! I leave Rebecca and run down the hall of the church looking. I find Peterson in the far corner of the gym … slowly and resolutely shaking his head, “No!” I walk toward him trying to assure him with a smile and nodding my head YES! He bolts!!! He starts running like we’re playing tag.

The wedding is about to begin and here I am, the daddy of the bride and minister of the wedding, chasing Peterson around the gym. I’m 57 years old, wearing a suit and dress shoes, but I snag him and carry him like a loaf of bread on my hip. I begin to use my finest persuasion skills as to why he needs to walk down the aisle with his cousins. It works! The doors open, and a herd of kids start down the aisle. Peterson sees his opportunity to beat them to the front of the church. He sprints down the aisle, past all of them at the speed of light, and then does a victory lap around the entire congregation as they applaud him.

(I told you he was fast.) Rebecca and I are standing behind closed doors and hear the applause for the speedy Peterson. Finally, the moment arrives. The doors open and we make our way down the aisle. Jake is being ornery and is not looking at Rebecca. About half way down the aisle, Rebecca decides she is going to sashay, make eyes at Jake, and get his attention. Does she ever! Jake can’t resist. He looks at Rebecca, starts crying, his knees buckle and he nearly faints. Bill, his father and best man, quickly steps up behind Jacob and whispers in his ear, “Breathe, Jacob, breathe.” I told you she is a beautiful bride!

The wedding is indeed a family affair. Bill Mutz welcomes everyone and prays. Michael Escue introduces Jake and Rebecca to the audience with some wit and insider information. My son, Ben, honors the grandparents who have been married for 56, 56, 51, and 45 years; Barbara and me for our 32 years; and Bill and Pam Mutz for their 28 years of marriage. Almost 270 years of marriage with no divorce is quite a legacy to give this young couple. Ben exhorts Jake and Rebecca, “Don’t blow it.” Then Samuel gives the couple a charge from Scripture and asks the question, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

Rebecca and Jake share tributes to their parents that bring the parents and everyone else in the audience to tears. I lead Rebecca and Jake through their vows and hold my emotions until the very end when it’s time for me to pronounce them man and wife. I start out okay: “As a minister of the gospel …” But then I make the mistake of looking Rebecca in the eyes and identifying myself, “… and as your daddy …” I can barely hold back the tears, and it’s all I can do to whisper, “I pronounce you man and wife.”

I think Jake isn’t sure if I will be able to give him permission to “kiss the bride,” so he kisses her before I can get the words out. And they start down the aisle before I introduce them as Mr. and Mrs. Jacob William Mutz. They are having a lot of fun by this time as the deed has been done. About halfway down the aisle, Jake picks Rebecca up in his arms and gives her a 360-degree twirl as they walk out the door. Her feet narrowly miss decapitating my executive assistant’s husband!

After a fun reception, they leave in the back of my pickup truck waving to the faithful family and friends who stayed to see them off. (They honeymooned for ten days in Tahiti and New Zealand in a rented RV.)

It was indeed a wedding to remember.

And now the real work begins … for them.

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