Father of the Bride
Your mission, 007, is to give the bride away. Oh, and also pick up the tab.
To answer the burning question I know has been keeping many readers awake nights: No, I did not break down and bawl like a baby at my daughter's wedding this summer. There, are you all happy now?
What? Some of you think the wedding is first and foremost about the bride, with an occasional guest appearance by the groom? Where do people get these crazy ideas? Answer me this: Who is picking up the tab for the whole thing? That's right, the father of the bride. Case closed.
OK, OK, if you're going to be like that! Beautiful bride in stunning wedding gown (paid for by you-know-who, but never mind)? Check. Handsome groom, snazzy-looking and numerous wedding party (seven on each side, for gosh sakes!), adorable ring-bearer and flower girl? Check. The flower girl, in one of many lovely little details planned by our daughter, tossed petals from all the roses our now-son-in-law had given her during their dating. The flower girl sort of forgot about the tossing part until she'd reached the front row, but a little coaching from her mom got the tossing back on track — finishing with a triumphant floral spike at the end.
Where was I? Sweet ceremony, adorable exchange of vows, "OK, you two, break it up!" kiss at the end? Check. Scrumptious reception food, flowing champagne, vigorous dancing? Check. (And speaking of checks… well, you get the idea.)
Through it all, I held it together with only the appropriate amount of teary-eyed choking up. Those of you who, having read my June column about selecting a father-daughter wedding dance song, expected a full-blown blubber-fest may now put the Kleenexes away.
That being said, the role of father of the bride is much tougher than I'd realized — even beyond the credit-card bills. Besides walking down the aisle, there's a toast at the reception — which apparently is supposed be way more sentimental than "I paid for all this food and booze, people, so enjoy!" And let's not forget the aforementioned father-daughter dance.
To begin at the beginning, though, mostly there's the waiting. The wedding was held at Farrand Field at the University of Colorado in Boulder, with the reception at the posh St. Julien Hotel, where we stayed. Our daughter, of course, stayed in the spacious bridal suite, which I glimpsed briefly while schlepping bags and several tons of wedding paraphernalia there. On the Big Day, her mother and aunt and all the bridesmaids flitted around the suite, helping her get ready, posing for photos, primping and noshing on little girlie sandwiches and tea.
While all this was going on, I was killing time down in our own hotel room, watching the clock (four hours to go — too soon to don my tux?) and the weather. It was an outdoor wedding, although there was a covered backup (another hit to the credit card, but better safe than sorry). All week we'd been watching the rain chances fluctuate — mostly in the no-worries 10% range, but creeping up as the Big Day grew closer. A few clouds appeared as the wedding day dawned, but it looked like we'd be OK.
Then, mid-afternoon (the ceremony was scheduled for 5 p.m.), I looked out the hotel-room window after checking my tux for the 14th time and saw that the streets were wet. Uh-oh. I later learned that, up in the bridal suite, our daughter's friends had wisely shut the drapes at the first sign of raindrops.
At least this gave me something to do: Check the weather on my iPad, hitting the refresh button every 90 seconds or so. Did you know the Weather Channel has forecasts in 15-minute increments, once you get within a couple of hours? 4:15 p.m., 20% chance of rain. 4:30 p.m., up to 30% — nooo! Go back down!
(If you happened to be staying at the St. Julien in mid-June and tried to check your email, only to wonder who was hogging all the bandwidth on the free wi-fi, I apologize.)
By the time I struggled into my tux, about a half-hour earlier than necessary (what was I to do? I'd already used up all the Keurig coffee pods in the room), the weather scare seemed to have subsided and the radar on my iPad showed no approaching threats of sprinkles. The tux was a tad challenging — keep in mind that my normal office attire in Silver City consists of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. I'm out of practice with the whole suit thing. Thank goodness the bow tie was pre-tied and only had to be fastened! And those dress shoes! They were like little black-leather coffins for my feet. Has no one thought of dress boat shoes or formal Topsiders?
Yes, thanks for asking, I looked fabulous in the tux once I'd struggled into it and mastered those damn suspenders. Think of a graying, only slightly paunchy James Bond, (in other words, Roger Moore in his later Bond films, or Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again). OK, grayer than that. But if I'd had a Walther PPK and an Aston-Martin… look out, Goldfinger!
So, after a half-hour or so of humming, "He's the man/ the man with the Midas touch…," it was finally time to go downstairs and get this show on the road. After, wait, still more photos as our daughter and her bridesmaids posed in the hotel lobby (the groom already having been safely scooted away to the wedding site). This was, of course, after about a thousand pictures up in the bridal suite, which I believe caused a brief shortage of photons in the Boulder area. ("Mysterious Blackout Plunges Boulder into Darkness! Photos Blamed for Sapping the Sun!")
Off we went at last in the mammoth rental SUV (necessary to fit the no-less-mammoth folds and ruffles of the wedding dress) that we'd nicknamed the Behemoth. Given Boulder's liberal leanings, we were a little worried the Green Police would stop us en route to the wedding. ("Sir, you're violating Boulder's minimum MPG restrictions…") But no, we made it and, after a stressful kerfuffle over opening a gate to where we were supposed to disembark ("Just smash right through it!" I seem to remember screaming. "This is my daughter's wedding!"), the Big Moment was at hand.
By which, of course, I mean my Big Moment. Oh, sure, our daughter was there, too, and possibly some of the wedding guests noticed how extraordinarily lovely she looked walking down the aisle. But I'm pretty sure most of them were thinking, "Wow, he looks good in a tux" or "Is that the graying, only slightly paunchy Sean Connery from Never Say Never Again?" or even just, "Bond. James Bond."
We walked down the aisle to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" — appropriate, since our daughter watched Wizard of Oz almost daily until she was about 12 (or so she says — it was really more like age 19). The recessional was the Star Wars theme, pretty much the only thing our son-in-law got to pick in the whole ceremony. ("Let him have it, honey," we'd sagely advised, secretly delighted because we love Star Wars, too. My suggestion to have a remote-control R2D2 be the ring-bearer was, alas, vetoed.) Pretty much everything in-between is a teary blur. At least the weather cleared and was perfect.
At the reception, our selection of "Every Long Journey" proved to be an ideal father-daughter dance song, with a strong enough waltz beat that we two confirmed non-dancers could fake it surprisingly well. My toast, which followed up on the theme of those lyrics, was accomplished with only a few chokes of emotion. Best of all, previous toasters (warm-up acts, as I thought of them) alluded to our son-in-law's love of Star Wars, setting up my punch line: "Finally, I can turn to him and say, 'Mike, I am your father-in-law.'" (Delivered with my best Darth Vader impression, if Darth Vader were a little choked up about his daughter getting married.)
I don't remember a lot after that point. I'm pretty sure I had another glass of champagne. There was dancing and a dessert bar. I recall slumping wearily in a chair and loosening my shirt collar.
Being father of the bride is exhausting, I tell you. Thank goodness we have only one child!
Now, of course, we also have a son-in-law, and we couldn't be happier about it.
When not on a mission for Her Majesty's Secret Service,
David A. Fryxell is editor of Desert Exposure.