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Last Daughter Getting Married

‘When you’re the father of the bride for a third time, you get some perspective on weddings’

By John Addyman

wedding-CakeIn May, I am marrying off the last of my three daughters. It’s a day that’s been a long time coming.

Elisabeth is my middle daughter. She had to kiss a couple of frogs before she found her prince, but her guy, Jeff, is a keeper. He’s kind, very hard-working, a guy’s guy who will do a great job raising Elisabeth’s son — and my wife and I like having Jeff around. All good.

I guess I’m lucky. All my daughters have brought home at least one boy who, when he left the house, I put my forehead on the door and said, “Lord, please not that kid.”

We like all our sons-in-law; no, that’s not fair — we love all our sons-in-law. They’ll all be lined up together somewhere at Elisabeth’s wedding, and they’ll spend time at our house over the weekend. Should be fun.

The wedding has been in the planning stages for more than a year, and is now the center of every discussion in our household.

When you’re the father of the bride for a third time, you get some perspective on weddings.

For one thing, you can have a whole lot of fun at a wedding. You get to see old friends, you meet people from the new side of the family, and people are looking forward to seeing you glow a little. Alcohol helps.

But what really makes me happy is the sight of my beautiful daughter as the center of attention, and deservedly so. And I get my moment at each wedding, the thing I remember most, when I dance with the bride.

I’ve danced with the girls since they were little. When they were babies up late at night, I’d hold them and rock them to something playing on the radio. Amy was a sucker for Barry Manilow, for instance. If she was having a fitful night, we played some Barry Manilow and she was asleep instantly.

Mary Kate, our youngest, liked folk music. Elisabeth broke the mold and loves country.

From the time the girls could walk, we took time to dance. Not always often, but always a special moment.

So, each of my girls has taken a little different approach to our wedding-day dance.

Amy, our first to get married, grew up listening to all of my Beach Boys and surf music records. One song she really latched onto was “Beach Baby” by a British studio band, the First Class. The record was a hit before Amy was born, but she heard it so many times on my turntable, she fell in love with it and it was a song we both loved and could play over and over. Before her wedding day, she and I practiced dancing to that song…then I got in a motorcycle accident and had to dance with her with a cast (colored to blend in with my tux) on my arm. It was still great.

Mary Kate, on her wedding day, cued up something special for me. My dad was a huge Glenn Miller fan, and I have expanded his collection of big band records. She chose “String of Pearls” for our song. Somewhere in heaven, my dad smiled. It was a magic moment for me, courtesy of a very loving daughter.

Elisabeth and I didn’t dance together as much — she was always too busy running around getting into mischief. So she asked me to make a suggestion about the music for our dance. I recommended “What a Wonderful World” sung by Stacey Kent. It’s slow, we could dance and have a nice talk through it, and there are nice messages in the lyrics. The life ahead of her looks wonderful.

She had other ideas. That’s fine. It’s her wedding. We’ll have fun. I just hope she doesn’t choose the hokey-pokey.

The other major thing I learned about weddings is that there will be a moment, a glance, a change in posture, a smile…something…that will let me know my daughter has finally stepped away from me and is now in the care of another man who loves her almost as much as I do.

With Amy, it was the sight of her waiting, all alone for the moment, for the last people to be seated before I walked her down the aisle. She gave me a look and a smile that still gives me pause more than a decade later.

For Mary Kate, it was the exit from the wedding venue with her husband, with all of the guests forming a gauntlet with sparklers in our hands. Magical.

Elisabeth will have one of those moments, I’m sure. And then she’ll be gone, with a new last name.

And if I’m lucky, the new couple will get busy making grandsons for me to play with…and granddaughters for me to dance with.

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