My daughter got married four days ago.
I’m still getting used to that reality. After years of praying, months of planning, and a whirlwind couple of days leading up to the actual wedding, I can finally sit back and (attempt to) take it all in.
Since so many of my peers have asked me “what was it like?” questions, I thought it would be worthwhile to record some thoughts while they are still fresh on my heart and mind. So here is a list of some of my most memorable impressions and experiences from Lindsey and Christian’s wedding, all from a dad’s perspective.
1. All the people. One of the realities that my brain still cannot comprehend is that we got to celebrate this momentous occasion with almost 450 people of our dearest friends in one room. We lost count, but I think close to 100 of them traveled from out of state to be with us. We treasure it as an amazing blessing to have had so many precious people there. We trust that all of them will be praying for and investing in Lindsey and Christian in the years to come.
2. The bride’s confidence. I have participated in close to 100 weddings in my lifetime. My daughter was once a flower girl at age six. Yet in the moments before I walked her down the aisle, I felt like a scatterbrained idiot. And Lindsey had this lovely, reverent calm about her, as if she knew exactly what she was doing. It was absolutely surreal. You can even see it on her face in some of the early pictures our photographer has sent us. It was clearly an awareness of the reality of the Holy Spirit in her life.
3. God’s presence. From the worship environment Bobby created at the beginning to the prayers and blessings given before and during the service, we truly wanted to do all we could on Saturday to build a giant runway that God’s very presence could land on. So many people have commented to us that this is exactly what happened…and we couldn’t be more thankful to our Creator for showing up in a tangible way.
4. My love for my new son-in-law. As a father, I can’t imagine anything giving me more joy than being able to hand my daughter over to a young man who I feel confident will love her and care for her as well (or even better) than I have. I have that confidence in abundance. Man, I love that kid. My friend Gary Rosberg has married off two daughters, but he says that he doesn’t do “sons-in-law.” He says he now has two sons. I like that. On Saturday, I feel like I gained a son
5. The Pastor’s Personal Remarks. Our College and Singles Minister, Thomas Nelson, performed the ceremony. We asked him to make his charge to them very personal and he far exceeded all of our expectations. There were many light-hearted comments about Lindsey and Christian’s ages of 19 and 20, which we all expected. (I particularly liked his assurance to the congregation that he had, in fact, checked their ID’s and that they were of the legal marrying age in the state of Georgia.) But even though we all know they are young, anybody who knows this young couple can tell that God has been working on them and preparing them for their full 20 years of life. I’m thinking that 20 years of prep is plenty of time for God.
6. The contrast of their story with many of our stories. Seeing a young couple that has been diligent to save themselves emotionally and physically for one another unfortunately has the power to make the rest of us have regrets about our own love stories. Few of us can say that we entered marriage without a bunch of baggage from previous relationships. Our prayer for the adults present is that they would all experience the amazing grace of our God and look to Him for the beautiful redemption of even the most regret-filled pasts. Our prayer for the all the teenagers and children in the room is that they would see in Lindsey and Christian a picture of what is possible.
7. The Father/Daughter Dance. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” has always been one of my favoritetear-jerker songs. He sings of his daughter growing up and moving through three life-stages where she needs her daddy to help her practice her dancing: as a preschooler playing “princess,” as a teen getting ready for the prom, and in the days before her wedding. We realized several months ago that I am a unique dad in that my three daughters are at each of those life stages. So, my father/daughter dance was just that. I danced with Maddie during verse one, Emilie during verse two, and Lindsey for the rest of the song. I was focused on my girls, but everyone told me that it was a misty-eyed moment for many. The bottom line: the song is true. They grow up way too fast. Savor every moment, dads.
8. How quickly the wedding was over. We spent a full year preparing for this event. When wedding week finally arrived, our family and friends trickled in over several days leading up to Saturday. But once it was completed and the happy coupled drove away, most everyone had to rush to the airport, get on the road back to Texas, or return to their busy Saturday afternoons. While we certainly expected that, the reality is that we felt very alone very fast. We miss our friends and family already.
9. The incomprehensible reality that my daughter is gone. I was cleaning out my backpack on Saturday evening and found a few papers I had faxed for Lindsey the week before. I placed them on the stairs like I always do so she can get them when she walks up to her room. Then it hit me…she doesn’t live with us anymore. Much like a widow who still calls to her spouse across an empty house, I think it will take me a while to get used to the reality that my little girl has moved in with another man and she is not coming back. (Insert “sniffs” here.)
10. Our need for a vacation. I’m convinced that every bride’s parents need to take a decompression vacation immediately after a wedding concludes. We worked so very hard for so very long to make this an amazing celebration of God’s goodness, that now we are absolutely spent. (Particularly my wife. I can’t tell how much time and emotion Jenifer invested into making this thing special.) I’m writing this morning from the balcony of a beach house our family rented with some of our best friends in the world. It’s not over yet, but it has been a good transition week to get us back into the rhythm of life.
There are many more wonderful emotions and memories that we are still processing, so ask me to talk about it the next time you see me. In the meantime, I’m going to go put my toes in the sand and talk to my God about why in the world He has chosen to be so very good to me.