There’s a moment at the church door where the bride and father of the bride get ready to walk down the aisle. It’s usually a bit of a flustered and hectic moment.
Up to this point the day has been about getting ready – the bride has been pampered with hair and make-up and the occasional glass of champagne whilst her father has either been keeping out the way, doing a little bit of last minute gardening, or turned into a Brigadier and has been marshalling the signs for car parking and co-ordinating the ebb and flow of caterers, florists, bar staff, DJs and the like. I’ve walked into preparations where the father has been clearing out the over-flowing cess pit which has chosen the wedding day to block up; or fathers quietly (and a little bit ominously!) sharpening gardening sheers; fathers with spreadsheets and clipboards of D-Day organisational proportions; and fathers who have been up, dressed and ready since before dawn trying to look calm and collected but unaware that they are wearing their waistcoat inside out. Then the cars arrive to take everyone to the church. Bridesmaids fluster with bouquets and last minute lipsticks; the mother of the bride tries to work out if it’s better to get in the car with her hat on or off, several different ways; and the younger brother is unceremoniously shoved out the door for making too many jokes about whether the groom is still sober.
There’s the quiet moments in the car to the church before it all gets busy again being greeted by bridesmaids and an usher or two, the bride trying to get out of the car gracefully whilst wearing a large dress and being welcomed at the church door by the vicar – it can all whizz by in a bit of blur, months of preparations and decisions and here they are, minutes away from the ceremony.
The vicar says a few calming words and talks through the practicalities of walking down the aisle; bridesmaids fluster, fuss and giggle; a flower girl accidentally hits the page boy with her posy; last minute guests run up the church path squealing their congratulations and apologies and try and squeeze past everyone through the door. And there’s a moment, a little oasis of calm, between the bride and her father. It may only be a second or two but there is a look, a connection like no other. The unconditional love of a father, all those sleepless nights, trips to A&E, school reports (good and bad!), clumping ballet lessons, lost teddy bears, tears and tantrums, inappropriate boyfriends, inappropriate clothes for nights out to find inappropriate boyfriends, pranged cars, exam results, sadness and loss, happiness and joy, the first job, the first flat, meeting the appropriate boyfriend all the way through to day he comes to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.
From the first moment he saw his little baby girl all the way to this, all he’s ever wanted is for her to be happy and right there, he couldn’t be more proud of her. Then the church doors swing open, the vicar asks everyone to stand, the organ starts, the father wraps his daughters arm around his with a gentle squeeze and off they go.