Read Dave’s thoughts approaching the wedding of his daughter Bethany in “Father of the Bride”.
All the bridesmaids have walked up the aisle, and only my daughter, Bethany, and I remain. As the music rises to a crescendo, our wedding coordinator brings us to the open door leading into the church sanctuary …
And I am confronted with the sight of a couple of hundred people standing and looking right at ME. Bethany and I start walking forward, and I think, “Don’t walk too fast, now … I hope I look okay … I wish I had lost more weight before the wedding … Remember to smile …”
And then reality breaks through the fog of my brain: “Relax, you fool … They aren’t looking at you—they’re looking at Bethany!”
At that point I finally started enjoying my daughter’s wedding instead of enduring it. As the ceremony began, I was able to forget all the last few hectic weeks of preparation—when the wedding dominated my thoughts day and night—and I began to appreciate what was happening.
On this day I was reminded that when you strip away all the things that take up so much time and money—the invitations and flowers and gifts and photos and food and dresses and tuxedos—the heart of a wedding is really a simple ceremony in which a man and woman pledge their lives to each other.
I was struck by the symbolism in the ceremony. When I walked Bethany up the aisle and gave her away to the young man waiting at the front, and when Bethany and David vowed to be man and wife “as long as we both shall live,” it provided a vivid picture of the narrative in the second chapter of Genesis, when God establishes the institution of marriage. When two people are married they leave their parents (Genesis 2:18-25) and become one with each other.
I thought of all the friends and family in the sanctuary. All these people—including some who came to Little Rock from Georgia, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi—were there not only to celebrate with Bethany and David, but also to give their blessing and pledge their support. That blessing should not be taken lightly, because couples need the support of others to make marriage work, especially in a culture that celebrates individualism over community and responsibility.
And then I thought of the woman sitting beside me, whom I had married 28 years before on the same date, September 8. Merry and I had recently looked at our old wedding photos, and I thought, “Did these two young kids have any idea of what lay ahead?” And of course we didn’t. I guess we only knew that God was calling us to face the future as a couple, a new family.
That’s the way it is with Bethany and David. Like us, they will begin building a storehouse of wonderful memories of holidays, vacations, family gatherings, raising children, and so much more. They also will face times of hardship and sickness and frustration and boredom from the relentless daily routines of life.
If they learn how to trust God through all of these experiences, and if their marriage is anything like what Merry and I have built together, they can look toward the rest of their lives with hope and confidence.
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