After Ryan proposed on October 3, 2009, he surprised me by having both of our families waiting for us to enjoy dinner on a private dock at one of our favorite restaurants. It was that evening where I first got a little glimpse into how my father would handle our upcoming wedding.
I remember the first Homecoming dance I attended with my good friend, Steve.
"Is he your boyfriend?" my dad asked.
"No. He’s just a friend."
"Does he like you?"
"No. Seriously, he’s just a friend."
"Do you like him?"
"Daddy! No." (I did a little, actually. )
We arrived at my friend Steve’s house for pictures and my dad pulled me aside, loudly whispering, "Julie! He has an earring!"
The second memorable boy-related conversation I had with my father occurred during the beginning of my sophomore year in high school. One night at the dinner table, I broke the news to my family that I had a boyfriend. My first real boyfriend. The conversation didn’t get too involved and we continued eating our meal.
About an hour later, I was upstairs in my bedroom, working on geography homework when I heard a knock on my door. My dad entered and sat down at the foot of my bed.
"What does this mean?" He asked me. "What do you mean you have a ‘boyfriend?’"
"It’s nothing really, Daddy." I said, treading with caution.
"So why are you calling this guy your boyfriend? What do you mean by that?"
"He’s just a guy I like. It’s not a big deal."
"You’ve never called anyone your boyfriend before."
"Yeah, well, it’s a little different."
"What? What’s different?"
This went on and on as I tried to assure him I wasn’t running off to get married at the age of 15.
I was in love with a guy he liked and respected.
Hearing the way my dad talks about Ryan warms my heart in the most intense way. Hearing the way he talks about me and Ryan together shows me how much he believes in our relationship.
Throughout the wedding-planning process, my dad was so generous and supportive. It was so clear that he wanted our wedding to be the wedding of our dreams.
He even let me get the chiavari chairs.
And he gave me these adorable sneakers, reminiscent of Father of the Bride, our family’s favorite movie.
He had a calm, happy smile on his face but tears in his eyes throughout the whole weekend.
As he prepared to walk me down the aisle, I remember him taking a deep breath. His exhalation was shaky and his smile was a little timid, but very pure.
He walked me down the aisle and placed my hands in the palms of my future husband. As the ceremony progressed, my dad watched me exchange rings with Ryan and listened to us as we said our vows.Our photographer managed to capture this magical moment in perhaps my favorite of all of our wedding photos.When I first saw this picture, my eyes welled up with tears.
The emotion on my dad’s face is so apparent and breathtaking. The look of love has never been more pronounced.
To be continued…
(All photos courtesy of Gina Leigh.)