By Jeff Keeling
In recognition of the Bridal Section inserted in this week’s paper, I offer a message to future fathers-of-the-brides: If you’re like me, you’ll set a budget for your dear sweet child’s pending nuptials. I did, and I still believe it was a good decision. But please, prepare to open your hearts and minds, not just your wallets, to something priceless: the transcendent loveliness of two lives coming together.
Theres’ more where this came from, but let me offer a case in point as to why I did well to quit worrying about small details, such as whether it made sense to shell out for wedding extras that may or may not even get used.
It’s a good thing we like graham crackers around our house, because in the aftermath of D-Day 2015 (the June 6 wedding of Sydney Chandley and Logan Hester), we had them coming out our ears. We polished off the grahams, and the Hershey’s miniatures.
While those edible reminders of the big day went to good use, I can’t say the same for the gross of marshmallow sticks ordered online as part of the overall “let’s have s’mores around the fire during the reception” idea. Once dancing, cake-eating and socializing inside the barn were through, the s’mores plan faded as the newlyweds’ thoughts turned to driving off in the Subaru wagon with “Just Married” written on the rear window. Those sticks still sit in a corner of the basement, wisely out of sight of Sydney’s 5-year-old nephew Owen, who never saw a sharp object he didn’t like.
So when all was said and done, we had spent some money on Sydney and Logan’s wedding that we probably could have saved. I may never understand the point of save the date cards, for instance.
I learned something very important between the dawn of 2015 and that wonderful wedding day, though. The bride and her mother, the lovely and talented Angela, were very good sports during my late winter, early spring days of budget hawkery. And as June 6 drew near, with most major expenses determined, I realized the best thing for me to do was start enjoying this whole affair by living in the moment.
I knew we would land within 15 percent north or south (ok, north) of our established budget. In addition to soaking in the experience, it was time to be a steady, calming influence as the bride and her mother navigated past the Scylla of stressful moments outside their control and the Charybdis of manufactured stresses that only an imminent wedding can induce.
Full disclosure: Mother and daughter were by and large perfectly lovely toward one another through this whole affair, even upon discovering on wedding day that the wedding party’s flower arrangements had overnighted inside too cold a refrigerator and were far from perky (they revived). Further, I almost certainly continued mentioning money now and again right up to “I do” and beyond.
Looking back, as is right and proper, Angela and I sharpened one another “as iron sharpens iron” even during the wedding season. She helped make my rough places smooth, and vice versa. It all came together beautifully under a canopy of trees in Limestone June 6, as the new bride and groom served communion to the many loved ones who had gathered for the joyous occasion.
A budget was the last thing from my mind as I heard my daughter and son-in-law charged with the same charge the lovely and talented Angela and I had been given years before: “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Today, I have a wonderful son-in-law and am witness to the early days of a marriage that should bless many people until long after I’m dead and gone. The day that marriage began was a special day beyond compare. Even the unused marshmallow sticks were worth it.