In honor of Father’s Day and Father’s Week, I thought I’d share this small, personal tale:
Before we became engaged, Kyle called my dad and asked him for my hand in marriage. Since my father lives in Utah and we lived in Ohio, the traditional face-to-face meeting was reduced to a 30 second phone call. Even so, my father appreciated the gesture and when I called him to tell him that I was engaged, he had already gone out for a celebratory dinner on my behalf.
Four days after I got engaged, I told my father that we were thinking about having a small wedding in Walt Disney World, since we met there and it was only fair to make both sides of the family travel (rather than just one). My father’s response? “Well, that’s sounds like a pretty dumb idea. Why would you do that? Why don’t you just have a normal wedding like everyone else?” I explained our reasons, but his response to those was, “Well, I don’t know if we’ll come to that. Maybe we’ll just skip it.”
For the record, my dad is not a bad person. He simply isn’t very keen on things like theme parks and Disney and doing things in an unusual fashion. So, I tried not to take it personally that he’d said he might skip my wedding. Still, I admit that it was a bit of a thorn in my side and every change to the wedding plan was followed by a phone call to my father so that he’d be up to date, since my dad is also the type of person to just blow an event off if it sounds too complicated or seems like too much work.
By the time we were midway into our wedding planning, lots of things had happened in our little world. For one, my father got a sudden and unexpected divorce six months into our engagement, which made constantly bringing up the wedding a little awkward. For another thing, our casual little Disney wedding turned into a great big Disney wedding complete with ball gown and 16 attendants. Suddenly, family from all over was planning on joining us, including two of dad’s siblings and his favorite niece. What had started out as some silly thing my dad might skip was starting to turn into the big romantic family reunion of the decade and it was all happening on top of the end of my father’s marriage.
Let’s just say it wasn’t the greatest timing.
I finally convinced myself that I’d be fine if my dad didn’t end up coming to the wedding. I knew that he wasn’t into crowds or being in the spotlight or big events or things like Walt Disney World. Plus, I was always kind of an independent kid, so I hadn’t really set him up for a “daddy’s princess” type of wedding. As it was, he barely knew Kyle and all and only saw me a few times each year. So, it seemed petty and self-involved to feel sorry for myself because he wasn’t leaping at the chance to fly to Florida and I decided to stop updating him on all the wedding planning.
I went home for Christmas just two weeks before we got married. My father introduced me to the wonderful woman that he had started seeing and I met her two sweet children, who are now my youngest step-siblings. They were all joining us in Florida for the wedding and although I didn’t expect any of the traditional gushy daddy-daughter stuff to happen on our big day, I was really happy they were coming.
During my trip home, I tentatively broached the subject of who would walk me down the aisle. As I’ve said before, my dad hates crowds, spotlights, and silliness, so I didn’t think he’d be interested, but I didn’t want to give my stepfather the job without clearing it with my father. To my surprise, he told me that he was gearing up to walk me down the aisle, despite having quite a bit of anxiety about it. Then, to double my shock, he said that he had secretly gotten some dance lessons on video to practice for the daddy-daughter dance I didn’t think we were having and asked me what we were dancing to. I gave him a list of choices and he ended up picking one of the sappiest, loveliest songs.
On my wedding day, my painfully shy and fairly awkward father arrived at the Grand Floridian in the Mickey Mouse tie that he had bought just for my wedding. He walked me down the aisle, gave me away, and waltzed me around on the dance floor (even though I found out later that the whole ordeal gave him stomach pains that lasted for weeks). Did he want to do it? Probably not, but at the end of it all I realized that my months of worrying and stressing had been for nothing. I had forgotten the most important thing: my dad isn’t a huge fan of weddings or dances or Disney, but he seems to be a huge fan of me.