Moxie Dad here blog followers… I asked Moxie if she minded posting this reflection on the wedding from a Dad’s point of view in the hopes that as you plan your own special day you will be aware of the significance that the festivities hold for those who love you the most.
Many people had asked me prior to the big day, “What is it going to feel like giving away your daughter…” which felt to me like some ancient custom from a long lost civilization. This certainly didn’t apply to Moxie and me; our relationship was different, more modern, and more self-aware. Well-intentioned people seemed to be preparing me for some great loss and as they spoke to me I noticed that their comments went in two directions:
a) Like I was losing my daughter rather than gaining a son in law
b) Like I had giving away something here rather than acknowledging that it was she that gave her love to Bob the Builder.
Notice that the emphasis was on a perceived loss of some kind. So, I was telling people when they asked that question, “I love my daughter very much and she was never mine to give away.” Moxie was always a straight up, self assured, beautiful person with a strong sense of who she is. (You can’t take someone like that, nor can you give someone like that…at least not without a large caliber firearm!!! Just kidding….) So, I was really surprised when on the morning of the wedding my daughter gave me an embrodied handkerchief that said, “Dad, you will always be the first man I ever loved…”
All throughout our lives we were, for the most part, on the same page and I assumed that she knew that I couldn’t possibly see this as any real change in our relationship; certainly not that I was abdicating my place in her life or that Bob the Builder would be replacing me in some way. Certainly not that I saw this as any kind on loss whatsoever. I thought maybe she is just covering all bases here and I thanked her for the gift and put it somewhere safe. I left the hotel while my wife and the wedding party spent the rest of the morning getting their beauty treatments and I walked the streets of Philly, heading to meet some wonderful friends that came in to town and were browsing lunch spots.
As I walked the streets, memories from the night before came to mind. During the rehearsal dinner I got up to tell the story of when Moxie was born. I had planned to tell that story during the Father of the Bride speech but a month earlier Moxie and I had a conversation that went something like this:
M-Bride: “ Dad will you do a welcome speech to start the reception? But just not too long, OK?”
M-Dad: “ Sure Sweetie, so I won’t do 45 minutes, just ½ hour?”
M-Bride: “Very funny, how about, like 5 minutes…” (eyes rolling… felt, not seen over the phone)
M-Dad: “ Yeah, I got it…”
So I told the humorous story of her birth to the assembled families and loved ones at the rehearsal dinner.
Afterwards the general comments went something like this: “Bob the Builder is so much like Moxie’s Dad” “She is marrying her father…” “I can’t believe how much their mannerisms are the same…”
At first I just laughed off such comments, even felt complimented that my little girl loved some part of me so much that she held out to find someone that had those qualities. That was the positive side of my brain. The devil side questioned whether I had been a good enough father and if so, maybe she would have wound up with someone less like me. I love Bob the Builder, he is a great guy and wonderful addition to our family, and so it isn’t any regret on my part. But I guess the more time passes, the more years we have behind us, the more we wonder how the decisions of the past have led to the path we’re on. But the over riding thought was that we’re all in a pretty good place, so maybe it was all meant to be just as it was.
It was a beautiful (but windy) day in Philly and the walk along with the poignant emotions that were just then hitting me seemed natural, although since Moxie is an only child, this was my first experience with a big event as this.
I met my friends and we settled on pork sandwiches from the market, eating them on the sidewalk across the street while battling the wind that tried to knock over what we had just waited 15 minutes on line for. I was so touched to see all the people that came from near and far to help us celebrate. These friends that I was lunching with have been with me for years. We have skied high mountains together, biked many roads together, and hike many a trail. They have seen me through the years, and the enviable changes that all people go through. My lunch with them was short, I had to get back to get ready for the big celebration. With such good friends even a little time together is precious.
As I walked back to the hotel, out of the corner of my eye I saw an older man walking at the same pace as I. When I turned to look at him, I realized it was my reflection in a mirrored storefront. I stood there for a moment, and it hit me. I’m not that young man anymore that was so overwhelmed by the thought of being responsible for a baby girl. I was once a twenty year old making his way through the world juggling work, money, ambition and creativity while making sure I provided as best I could for those that I loved. We are all a product of the attention and care we give to our loved ones, and I am no exception to that. Now, after all these years of learning how to be the man I have become I realized that I’m not going to be the first person she thinks to turn to when a problem arises. I realized there and then that there was a changing of the guard, so to speak. I was still going to lie in bed at night worrying that she was OK, I was still going to love her as fiercely as I always did. But there was a changing of the guard – not a loss, just a change. One that was natural, real, and important. I began to understand what everyone was quietly trying to prepare me for. I guess some people see it as giving away their daughter…hence the general statements / questions. For me the right question to ask is “How is it going to feel knowing that your daughter has a great partner to share her life with?” That one I have answer for: “It feels great…”
It was emotional at the wedding, first seeing my beautiful daughter looking so incredible and then seeing the faces of all the friends filing in from all over. I was overwhelmed. I had some poignant memories that I planned to relive with Moxie as we waited to enter the ceremony but realized that having both of us crying down the aisle wasn’t a good photo op. I also had a whole routine setup as part of the welcome speech. But I realized that if this is a changing of the guard, let it start now, my place was not the center. My place was now the side. So as I watched Moxie Bride and Bob the Builder dance their first dance I realized it was time for me to take my new place. I got up to give my speech – no added hoopla, no drums, no theme music – just a few words to pass the torch. My hands were shaking so badly that I wound up going off script, so much for all those business lectures I’ve done. Emotion trumps everything.
Here is what I said:
“Good Evening and welcome to the city of brotherly love…. Welcome to Moxie and Bob the Builder’s wedding….
On behalf of my wife and myself, the entire Moxie Family, and Bob The Builders family we thank you for coming tonight to help us celebrate Friendship, Family and most of all Love and Commitment.
It warms my heart to see all the friends and family that came from near and far to be here tonight. And thank you all for sharing this evening with us… but also for being a part of our lives.
It feels like it was just yesterday that I held Moxie in my arms for the very first time. But as I look at all the faces here tonight I am reminded of all the memories that we share, all the meals we have had together, all the holidays we shared, all the laughter, all the good times. It is the accumulation of all those memories that shows the true passing of time and reminds us that it wasn’t really yesterday, it was a lifetime ago, a wonderful amazing lifetime ago. So tonight we will celebrate Friendship by adding another wonderful memory to those we already share.
Every parent here knows how they felt when their child was born, we ask only that he/she be healthy; we wish for them to be safe and then we hope that will be happy. As they start to make their way in the world, ultimately we pray that they will find someone who will love them as fiercely as we do. That is why we’re here tonight. Moxie and Bob The Builder have found each other, and as my wife tells me all the time… The hard part is over… You found each other. MB and BTB, All you have to do now is love each other. The hard part is over.
So where do we learn this wonderful gift of love… It is from our parents and our family that each of us learns how to love. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Moxie’s Mom, who raised her to be such a beautiful and self assured women. Tonight we recognize that are here standing on the shoulders of giants, our parents, they were the ones who showed us by example what love is. So tonight we will celebrate Family by remembering those who came before us, and are not here to share this evening with us, but are never far away from our thoughts.
And finally we are here to celebrate Love and Commitment. I know that the Bride and Groom have found that fierce love in each other, that every parent dreams their child will find…. and today they have committed themselves to a life of caring for one and other. We all couldn’t be happier for them; and also tonight for me I can honestly say I have gained an amazing Son in law to go along with my amazing daughter.
So tonight we celebrate Friendship, Family and Love, let your hair down, make some noise, feel the music, enjoy the food, drink some wine, and help us celebrate this wonderful event on this wonderful wonderful evening…
After I spoke I turned to Moxie and as we have done so many times before, we communicated without words. She knew as I did that with that toast, the torch was passed.
I hope this helps you as you plan towards your wonderful event. Everyone who experiences your wedding will bring to it what they can, will experience what they want, and take away from it their own personal thoughts and reflections. Be open to all that your loved ones are experiencing. Hosting a wedding is like giving your guests a canvas: Each person brings their own brush strokes, some will cry, others only laugh, hopefully everyone will dance, but for you the final picture will be a moment in time with varying depths of emotion, wonderful memories, and transitions to new and amazing places.