While a father’s or mother’s parenting of a child may never actually end, a major milestone is certainly achieved when said child marries. In November of this year, my wife and I reached that momentous step when our youngest son wed, our third and last child to tie that loving bond.
As with any wedding, there were months and months of planning and decision making. After their pronouncement to bring to a close their engagement with a formal ceremony, our focus seemed to be on nothing much else than all the details involved. The couple worked diligently exploring the different options, gently coaxed by my wife who had previous planning experience with our other two children. Choices of wedding dress, venue, invitations, and reception just to name a few consumed much discussion and review.
When the final week before the wedding came, it seemed there were more things to do than time to do them in. My wife judiciously created a calendar listing out by day each activity that must be accomplished. We each had things to do, places to go, and activities to complete. And when there were more tasks at the same time, we enlisted the help of relatives who graciously agreed to help. But in spite of excellent lists, we did manage to get to the wedding venue the day before without a key necessity—the mother of the groom’s wedding dress. Fortunately, we were close enough to home to retrieve this in time.
Early November weather in Memphis is fairly temperate so there was little concern early on in planning an outdoor venue overlooking the Mississippi River. Unfortunately, the day before the wedding, our area was hit with the first of two record-setting cold fronts. The afternoon of the rehearsal, there was a blustery wind that made the mid 40s weather feel arctically cold. All we could hope for was that it would be a bit warmer the next day.
After braving the cold, we were all happy to retire to the warmth of the rehearsal dinner.
We had chosen to hold this dinner in the party room at our condo since it was in fairly close proximity to the wedding venue. The wedding couple had chosen a taco bar menu which was catered by what turned out to be a real authentic Mexican cuisine. The party decorations gave an almost Cinco De Mayo feel to the festivities.
The kids, many of them our own grandchildren, even had their own table.
The next day, there were many more tasks to be accomplished before the late afternoon wedding, but none more important than the bride and groom finally getting into their wedding clothes.
Even us older adults—my siblings and me—cleaned up very nicely.
The pre-wedding photos were taken down by the river where the wind off the water brought a chill to everyone. I have no idea how these bridesmaids managed to keep from shivering during the photo-shoot.
As guests began to arrive, there was an excited anticipation in the air.
Thankfully some of us who would be walking down the aisle found a respite of warmth inside where the reception would take place.
There, I found my 4-year old granddaughter deep in thought. I can only wonder if she will recall one day the thoughts she was pondering as she awaited her special moment to drop flowers down the aisle preceding her mom joining her dad up front.
As we stood for the bride to make her graceful walk, I noticed I had tears in my eyes as she made her way down the aisle, just like when I walked my only daughter down the aisle on her special day. From my front row seat, I was able to sneak a photo of the wedding in progress, although my granddaughter sitting next to me caught me and immediately wanted to see it.
After the special ceremony, made even more distinctive by the officiant who had glowing comments for the couple, we returned to the warmth of the reception hall.
As we greeted our guests coming in, I managed to snap a few more photos, one of the proud and happy mother-of-the-groom with her “baby”.
While I was greeting everyone, I failed to realize that the front table was just for the wedding party, not the parents as well so with the planned open seating, it was a challenge for my wife and I to even find two spots next to each other. But what’s not a wedding with a bit of chaos, even though it was self-inflicted.
The meal was delicious, the toasts sometimes humorous, but always sweet, and then it was time for the first dance.
My excited granddaughter just couldn’t realize why she couldn’t dance in the first dance as well.
So, I decided to take her for a spin around the dance floor, many, many times. Having missed going to the gym that morning, I felt afterwards like I had gotten a thorough workout.
Afterwards, many of us could stand back and just watch while I caught my breath.
As we stood aside, it gave me the opportunity to reflect back that it had been an absolutely beautiful wedding, one definitely full of wonderful memories.
The morning after, I woke up to the realization that I no longer had any unmarried children. I felt a true sense of accomplishment (as I am sure my wife did as well) almost as if I had been running a multi-decade marathon and had finally crossed the finish line. I was elated for my son and new daughter-in-law, but I also felt a real peace.
Before heading off on their honeymoon and our granddaughter’s almost endless sleepovers at Mimi’s, it was nice to have breakfast with everyone and talk about the fun we had all had. It was absolutely a momentous occasion. One we will relive for many years to come.
Reflecting on this most recent wedding also made me pause to think back to our oldest son and daughter’s weddings over eight years ago. Occurring long before I began blogging, I realized it was time to look back at their special weddings as well as they represented our first children getting married—a story to come.
To be continued next year!