Here Comes the Bride

“Babe of a bride!” her little sister beamed. “Babe of a bride!”

The bride arrived at church in a vintage white Rolls, floating on sea breezes, just ahead of the summer solstice.

My older daughter had been imagining this day her entire life. She pictured beaming crowds, old friends, lightning bursts of laughter.

She imagined flower girls somersaulting in charmeuse petticoats. She imagined chatty and gallant ushers.

On this day, there was none of that.

But sometimes less is more. The tiny ceremony was personal and poignant, attended only by me, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend, her brother, and the man who owns her heart.

In hindsight, maybe no wedding needs to be bigger than that.

Large weddings are wonderful, but they can easily become like Renaissance fairs. Something borrowed, something blue, butterflies, Vivaldi, trumpets, horses, swans, gossip, flop sweat, cummerbunds, contract law, romance, heroines, harps.

This wedding was stripped of most of the usual excess — the filigree, the flourishes. But it was far from austere. Her dress? Magnificent. The altar? Heavenly.

Just to hear Pachelbel wash across the church again stirred the soul.

Wedding diary: Hugging a bride is like hugging a snowstorm #ChrisErskineLA #weddings #fatherofthebride

Of course, the bride really needed her mother there, to lick her fingers and smooth her daughter’s hair. To fluff the bridal veil. To scold her daughter not to cry: “You’ll melt your makeup,” her mother would say, even as she melted her own.

Instead, she had her sister, who did outstanding work as a surrogate mom and solo bride’s maid.

And her dad, of course. Lots of luck with that.

“Show up, shut up and pay up,” was the advice from a friend. So I mostly did.

For the record, it’s hard to hug a bride, the dress so billowy. You lean in carefully, watching where you step…oops.

Hugging a bride is like hugging a snowstorm, and in the limo ride over, or in helping her from the car, I kept snagging things and stepping on the train, or whatever they call the parts of the dress that surround her like gallons of meringue.

There really should be tutorials on how a father should hug the bride. Maybe I’ll make one. Till then, just do the best you can.

With trembling fingers, I helped my son pin his boutonniere, then smoothed the shoulders of his jacket and heartily slapped him on the back. 

BAM!

It was the kind of pre-game backslap that wobbly, overdressed men often perform at formal occasions.

BAM! BAM! BAM! “Go get ’em!”

As the 3 p.m. ceremony approached, other family members – cousins, sisters, uncles, aunts — tuned in to the video feed. In Chicago, they sipped and yelped. In New York, they even made a cake.

When the ceremony was done, the groom danced a little jig. We all did. In celebration. In relief.

As with a lot of couples, their wedding date kept getting pushed by COVID, and they finally decided: Let’s just do it.

Rather than wait another year, they’d tie the knot in a micro-wedding in magnificent St. Monica’s Church, then celebrate with all their friends and family at a later date, with a re-enactment and reception.

Whatever happens a year from now, this will be tough to top.

It was a full weekend, with a bawdy rehearsal dinner and anticipatory toasts, texts and phone calls.

On Friday night, we ate up all the sushi in Los Angeles – there is no sushi left, don’t even try.

Finn, the fiancé, likes a feast where plates fill the table, edge to edge, lip to lip. He ordered everything on the menu, and several things (I suspect) from the joint across the street.

We ate every part of the sea: monkfish liver, gizzard shad. The prawns came to the table with their antenna still twitching.

Ewwwww! Bravo! I felt like Morey Amsterdam at a state dinner.

“Could I get some ketchup?” I asked the waitress.

“No,” she said.

For three hours, all we did was laugh and drink and nosh.

Honestly, could Saturday get any better?

The wedding day started early. Makeup took two hours for a bride who doesn’t really need any. My older daughter has a natural amber, a combo of my Irish blush and a smokey satin from her mama’s Sicilian side.

Against the sleigh-ride white of her wedding dress, she looked like the Fourth of July.

“Babe of a bride!” her little sister beamed. “Babe of a bride!”

Flowers arrived, then the limo, which glided up Lincoln Boulevard like a giant swan. I’m in the backseat with the bride, and all I can think: What’s going on here? This isn’t the sort of daughter you ever “give away.” Get a grip, man!

The day was delicate, sort of silky – not too cool, not too warm. Good for photos. Good for waiting around outside, kicking at the sidewalk, as weddings always require.

Of all the major traditions – baptisms, confirmations, graduations – a wedding is the most deliberate. It’s a bet that love can outlast the extended warranty. It’s a wager in the right direction.

A good marriage means the bed will always be warm on winter nights. That your birthday will always have a cake and candles. That someone will be around to help doctor the soup.

In the future, I might attend weddings the way Leopold Bloom attended the funerals of complete strangers…as a public show of support. I’ll show up to honor random couples the way I support bookstores and bassoon recitals.

Look, lately the world seems locked in utter turmoil. The bad news piles up every hour — when will it stop? The other day, some idiots were actually talking about tearing down Mt. Rushmore. And the Loch Ness Monster was “trending.”

For the love of God….

Yet, on a gauzy June day, the sirens stopped for a moment. My beautiful daughter took a man’s hand and vowed, “No way. No way can they stop us.”

I think I heard her late mother weeping. And my heart ripping at the seams.

“Do you take this woman…?” the monsignor asked.

“I do,” the groom responded.

Bravo.

photo copyrights: Sarah Haas/The Still Company

78 thoughts on “Here Comes the Bride

  1. THANK YOU CHRIS, FOR MAKING ALL OF US FEEL LIKE RELATIVES WHO WERE INVITED TO THE WEDDING. BEAUTIFUL BRIDE AND HANDSOME FAMILY, EVEN DAD. IF DAUGHTER WANTS TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE A MARRIAGE LAST, GET IN TOUCH. WE’VE BEEN MARRIED 65 YEARS, GOING ON 66. IT CAN BE DONE!

  2. Love your beautiful, poignant musings on family life. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day with us.

  3. Oh my, Chris! What a lovely tribute to your girl! I know you said they would get married next year, I was hoping they wouldn’t wait. Congratulations to all of you. They are sparkling jewels in such dark times.

  4. Stunning Bridal Party! Gorgeous Bride , Handsome Groom, Dapper Dad,Princely brother, Beautiful Sister and BF.. Loved Her Dress, Flowers and Most of all, Her smile. Certain Her Mom was there watching over all of the ceremony. Blessings All. Safe keeping and Love abounding. Thank you for sharing this incredibly moment.

  5. Looks like a beautiful day! Blessings to the happy couple and all your family. I’m sure your angels were smiling from heaven! Nancy

  6. As usual, a beautiful day described beautifully…..Thanks for sharing so, well, beautifully. 🙂 Tomorrow I intend to use adjectives that begin with a “C”.

  7. Congratulations to the bride and groom and to you sir, and thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us!

  8. Thank you for sharing your family with us through the many years and ups and downs. The strength of your family is inspiring. The wedding is yet another chapter in a multi volume story that reaches back and forward in time!

  9. loved the wedding story and love that everyone looks so happy and elegant. love the new column as well; keep up the good work. you are definitely here to help me laugh, cry and sigh. need all of that during these “interesting ” times.
    thank you

  10. After reading my favorite column for years what a joy it was to see the family at last in a truly joyous occasion. All the best to the new bride and groom and to Dad’s new venture. I’m wiping away the tears.

  11. Dammit, you made me tear up…there goes all my make up. Oh wait, I’m not wearing any. That was just beautiful Chris. I’m sure your wife and son were watching and beaming. What a beautiful family you have! Hearty Congratulations!!!

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