Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Wedding of the Century

Part the Second: The Longest Aisle
The next day dawned like nothing epic was due to happen that afternoon and we all ate breakfast, then the females took off for the obligatory hair/nail/whatever appointments, and I got my marching orders to go to Walmart for some last-minute items. The whirlwind that hit New Braunfels that clear December day had “Söderberg” written all over it. The wedding was at 4 p.m., and seeing the girls with all of their hair done was getting pretty real to me. Then I saw my firstborn, wearing a blue striped shirt, jeans, immaculate makeup and hair, with her wedding veil. For some reason, my eyes stopped focusing clearly again for a little bit. I need to get these glasses checked.

Everybody got back to the hotel and showered, foofed and changed, and shaved again. We brought our nice clothes to change into, so we blasted off to Cross Lutheran Church in the Silver Bullet so we could be there an hour early. I went and greeted the photography crew, my friend Roy and his wife Lynette of Lone Star Photography. They were ready for action, and I directed them to where the bride was getting ready, the girly inner sanctum. Lynette deployed in that location, and Roy was scoping out the sanctuary. Some more of the groomsmen arrived and were in the men’s room changing into their tuxedo apparel. I, on the other hand, was blessed with being able to wear my best black suit, my new ivory shirt and silver tie that my girl had given me for my birthday a couple of months previous.

The guys were taking the tuxes out of their packaging, sorting out the various bits, and one exclaimed, “We have to wear these suspenders? Dang, that’s lame…” to which I smiled quietly to myself. I had my OWN suit, shirt, shiny black boots and a brand new black Nocona Texas Ranger style bel–… I went pale. My brand new black belt was in the drawer in the hotel room, where I had placed it the day before. So sly, I fooled myself. It was too late to borrow the hated suspenders from the groaning groomsmen, and I couldn’t wear the brown belt I had on. I had to race back to the hotel.

I tried to hurry in the most nonchalant way I could, seeing that the panic level was increasing as every second passed. I saw my Dad on the way in as I was on the way out… “Hey, Dad, howzitgoingIgottagoIleftmybeltintheroomandI gotta get back fast!” He graciously sent me on my way and I leapt into the van and sped away, praying that no Comal County Protect and Servers were between the church and the hotel.

To make a harrowing story of masterful driving and narrowly avoided traffic lights short, I made it there and back in a mere 21 minutes. I timed it. As I was walk/hop/running into the church, I nearly ran over my mother-in-law. “You’d better get dressed!” she said, incredulous that I was still in jeans. “Yeah, I’m thinkin’ about it…” as I slid sideways into the men’s room. The time was approximately 3:42:17 p.m..

Fully decked out as I should be, I emerged with only a slight sweat going. The evening sun streaming in through the glass foyer was not much of a help to my temperature situation. I settled down enough to mingle with my Dad, Roy, the groom and the groomsmen and find an air conditioning vent to stand under. We horsed around a bit as people came in to the auditorium in a steady stream. It was nearing zero hour 4 p.m., and the grandmothers got seated. Of course the stream of people kept rising and falling, and so to keep the timing correct, the grandmothers got seated a couple more times to try to set the schedule for the ceremony and get everybody in the pews.

Finally, the service was under way. The bridal party was neatly lined up in the foyer waiting for their cue. My middle daughter and youngest looked so beautiful in their dresses, hair done and cradling their flowers. As I got down to the end where my littlest girl was, she looked up at me with tears in her eyes, and asked me, “Daddy, are you going to cry?” She glanced over to her right where a vision of beauty was standing in the hallway awaiting her moment.

I caught my breath. Oh. My. Gosh. This was it, and that was her. She stood so tall and graceful, like a wonderfully crafted porcelain doll in satin and pearls, holding flowers that paled in comparison to her perfection. That was all I could see before my chin quivered and she went blurry. I made my way to her side somehow, and looked into her bright blue eyes. They were welling up with tears of emotion, just over half-full, and as I leaned in to gently hug my baby, I said softly and lovingly, “You stink.”

The desired effect was attained and she smiled; the water returned from whence it came. The next few minutes, however, are not as clearly remembered as these. I recall that we chatted and laughed a little for the last time as a guy and his single daughter. Then I recall something about trailing a cute little girl with a basket of flower petals down a sloping floor leading to where a guy was standing. There was some kind of vaguely familiar music playing, though I don’t consciously remember following the strains. I didn’t see anything to either side of me. We stopped and the guy on the top step said something to me and I think I said something like, “Her mother and I…” and I don’t think my voice cracked or anything. Then I stepped back a couple of steps and stood next to a crying woman in a silver dress. After that, I was fine.

When the service was over, we had to take pictures, so everybody kept their seats. The pastor that performed the ceremony prohibited photos made during the service proper; he felt that it would detract from the serious spiritual nature of the event. I am with him on that. Also, as a photographer, it gives you a better chance to get great shots when the key parts are reenacted. So we did that and it did make for better shots; everyone was very relaxed-looking and the tears were all wiped away.

As the shots were being made, Roy asked if I had any ideas, since we have shot several weddings together. “Nope, you’re doing great!” was my reply. As a matter of fact, at no time during the weekend did I officially wield any sort of recording device in an official documentary capacity. People that know me think that odd, but they don’t know the whole story.

My reasoning is simple. I was the Father-of-the-Bride that weekend, not a photographer, not an art director, not a designer or stylist. Just Dad. I wasn’t looking for angles, compositions, perfect expressions and special lighting effects. If I had gone into any of the aforementioned modes, I would have missed an event that will never be repeated.

That was not on my list of things to do.


Lynn said...

just perfect in every way!!

Anonymous said...

"I recall that we chatted and laughed a little for the last time as a guy and his single daughter."

Good golly, you gotz me all choked up on that one line! Good writing as always, and I'm glad you served your role as father of the bride and not photog, there are only so few times we can step aside and soak in those moments!