By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
There is no denying that there is a special bond between fathers and daughters. That whole “Daddy’s little girl” thing is real. Being a daughter myself, I know it first hand but am also witnessing it with Lucy and Adam. All that little stinker has to do is give her dad a huggle with a back pat, and you see how tight she has him wrapped around her little finger. (And, let’s be real, she has her grandfathers and brothers sucked in just as much.) There are so many things I could write about my dad but one event surfaced as a perfect demonstration of my dad’s love for me and that special father-daughter bond...my wedding day.
A daughter’s wedding has to be a very emotional time for a father. It’s that pinnacle moment when “Daddy’s little girl” is actually growing up, no matter her age at the time of the wedding. In the days leading up to and on that big day, my dad’s pride and love for me glowed brighter than ever before. These were not only special moments but also amazing life lessons.
The Big Ask
My then boyfriend and now husband, Adam, met with my parents for lunch to do the traditional asking for permission to marry your daughter conversation. A little background on Adam and my history; we actually “went out” in seventh grade, graduated high school together, and Adam coached my little brother’s baseball team with my dad for a few summers. Adam and I reconnected after our 5 year class reunion and started dating then. Adam knew my parents very well so it wasn’t a totally awkward conversation.
My dad is the happy-go-lucky life of the party, always making jokes and having fun, kind of guy; he’s not an intimidating force. He rarely raises his voice or gets angry; when he does, however, everyone takes it very seriously. My dad told Adam that he appreciated him meeting with them and had only one concern. At the time, I had just started graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. My dad told Adam that school was very important to me and that my education, however far it might go, should be a priority in our future. After releasing his held breath, Adam said that would be no problem!
The Perfect Dress
My dad is a retired photographer; I actually hail from a family of photographers, starting with my grandfather and extending to my dad, uncle, and aunt. In his career, my dad has seen a lot of weddings. In an unexpected and surprising twist, my dad had strong opinions during the wedding planning process from the venue to the invitations to the decorations to the dress.
Like many newly engaged brides, I immediately went out and bought a bunch of magazines to start on the quest for the perfect dress. I found a dress that I absolutely loved but had a hard time finding a store that had it to try on. At the fourth bridal shop appointment, bingo! They had it! At this point, I had several contenders at other boutiques but the moment I put this on, I knew it was THE DRESS.
I’ll never forget this moment. I was standing on the pedestal, looking in the mirror with THE DRESS on when my dad walked in. He knew it was the one I had been searching for. He had me step down so he could fan out the train. He had me walk around the store. He had me turn to see how it would look with the train to the side. (Basically, making sure it would photograph perfectly.) Then, he said simply...yup, that’s THE DRESS.
The Special Touches
Our wedding had a fall theme as it was on October 1. We decided that it would be nice to have corn stalks, pumpkins, mums, straw bales, and gourds as decorations. My dad took on this job, and he took it very seriously, picking the best in each of these categories as well as delivering to the venue and staging it. My dad does have a great eye for detail, and it looked amazing!
At the reception, my dad had a few tricks up his sleeve that we didn’t know about. My husband loves pizza; I mean, seriously loves pizza with a capital L. During his father of the bride speech, my dad starts talking about the one thing that Adam loves in the world besides me was pizza. At that moment, he had arranged for the venue to bring Adam out a pizza! Everyone appropriately laughed but it showed exactly how much my dad cared about Adam. In true Tom style, my dad closed by giving Adam the perfect gift. It was a throw pillow that said, “A man’s home is his castle until the queen arrives” and ended his speech with, “Adam, your queen has arrived”. It was absolutely perfect with one exception; after having a daughter, a new queen may have dethroned me!
The Father-Daughter Dance
Neither my dad nor I are big criers. The joke between my husband and I is that he takes care of that for the both of us; it’s funny because it’s true. Not surprisingly, neither my dad nor I cried during the dress purchasing, the pre-wedding pictures, the walk down the aisle. We were totally riding on the high of fun and being the center of attention, and then, the father-daughter dance happened. It started out fine, and then, it was like all the moments along with all the feels came rushing in at once. The video is quite funny. The first part of the dance we are chatting and laughing, and the second part we can barely look at each other. It was very special, and very Tom and Erika.
As an aside, I am sure you have seen those really funny choreographed Father-Daughter dances, right? When they start out slow dancing, then the must changes to some dance number resulting in the bride and dad busting a move? If I had a do over, we would do that!
When your parents become grandparents, an interesting thing happens. Since grandparents often do not have to be the disciplinarians, they get to do all the fun and show all the love without restraint. Then, hand the spoiled rotten, sugar infused child back to their parents. One thing I have realized with my parents is the doting, crazy, over-the-top love they show to my kids is really how they feel about my brother and I. But, as my mom has often said, being a parent does not mean being a friend so that has to be reined in and balanced with discipline and structure. My parents have 5 grandchildren, 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter; the lone granddaughter being my bonus baby, Lucy. It is evident that my dad loves all of his grandchildren, but it is equally evident that Lucy has a special place in his heart. I know she reminds him of when I was little and that undeniable father-daughter bond began, and that makes my heart so happy.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! To my dad, you are the best, and I love you very much. I’m grateful to have you as my dad, and I can’t imagine what life would be like without you in it. You are the rock so many count on. The guy that gets the job done. The person we call for how to do all the things. The man that brings the F into Fun and Family. Here’s to many more awesome adventures!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.