So, when should you start preparing for your daughter’s wedding? I started the day I found out Susan was pregnant with each of our daughters.
Now, before you think you already missed the opportunity because she’s already a teen or because your relationship with her is strained, think again. Even though she’s a little older, you can still start preparing today. Even though your relationship may be in a rough patch or perhaps estranged because you’ve messed up in the past, you can still humbly ask for forgiveness, pursue reconciliation, and start preparing yourself and your daughter for her future big day.
My oldest daughter, Megan, just got married a few months ago. Her husband, Hampton, is an amazing man. I kind of wish I was more like him! Looking back, while I did fumble the ball as a father on many occasions, there are 8 things I did strive to be and do during Megan’s life to prepare her for her life with Hampton. I’m doing the same for my daughters, Emily and Hannah. As you prepare for your daughter’s future wedding today, perhaps you’ll embrace some of these things and maybe add to them.
Be the first man she ever loves.
The greatest letter I’ve ever received was hand-delivered to me by my daughter, Megan, on April 2, 2016. As I sat in my room, I carefully opened the envelope in great anticipation of what she would say. I began pouring through the beautiful words in her note and then, I came to these words, “You are the first man I ever loved.” With those 8 words, the dam which held my emotions in check broke and my heart was flooded unspeakable gratitude and joy. There is nothing she could have said that meant more to me than that.
Be the first man to hold her.
I vividly remember cradling Megan and then Emily in my arms the moment they were born. (We were honored to adopt Hannah when she was 12 so I got to hold her when she was a bit older). Any father who has experienced the birth of their daughter knows the awe and wonder that comes with it. This beautiful baby is God’s gift to you. She’s priceless and must be carefully cared for, nurtured, and raised. And as she grows, it will be your responsibility to hold her time and time again. You’ll want to embrace her in her moments of celebration and victory. And, you’ll need to hold her in her most difficult moments of life.
Be the first man to sing to her.
You may not sing like Andrea Bocelli, the famous Italian opera tenor, but singing to your daughter, especially when she is young, will be music to her ears. I remember most nights singing to my baby girls various hymns and songs, some of which I made up. I even did some of them with foreign accents. Show your daughter affection by singing to her.
Be the first man to tell her about her Creator.
Even before each of my girls were born, I put my head close to Susan’s belly and prayed for them. And after they were born I prayed with them most nights as I tucked them into bed. I also started praying for their future husband when they were just toddlers. I was the first man to tell them about their Heavenly Father who created them. I wanted to ensure that they know Him and know Him well.
Be the first man to show her unconditional love.
As I shared in my book, All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids, when I was a practicing real estate attorney, I drafted many contracts. In every valid contract there is something called “consideration.” Consideration is when you give something knowing you will get something else in return. It’s conditional. It’s an “if I do this, then you’ll do that” kind of thing. But love is unconditional. Love is not a transaction; it’s an action. Love is not reciprocal; it’s sacrificial. And love says “I want what’s best for you! That is why I’m talking to you about this, that is why I’m doing this, that is why I’m disciplining you, that is why I’m making this decision.” Always, always, always love your daughter unconditionally so she’ll expect the same from her future husband.
In the letter I mentioned above from my daughter, Megan, she shared with me her wonderful memories of me coming home from work at night and her dancing on my feet in the family room as a little girl. Megan also recalled those fun father/daughter dances we went to. And those are just a couple of the reasons why you should dance with your daughter.
Be the first man to take her on a date.
Start dating your daughter when she is very young. When you want to take her on a date, ask her first, then come to the door to get her with flowers in hand. On the date, use your best manners—open the car door for her, pull her chair out, and help her get seated. And dating her is not an every once in a while kind of thing. Every week or two is best.
Be the first man to be her valiant warrior.
Former President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, gave a challenge that applies to fathers as well:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.
Years from now, you will want your daughter to remember you as a warrior…a father who strived valiantly for her and with great devotion to her. That is what a father must do. So show her what one looks like. Show her a warrior who, as the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, takes up his “shield of faith” to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” and to protect her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And fight for her with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Because one day, you’ll want her to marry another valiant warrior.
When your daughter’s wedding day arrives, it’s my hope that you’ll be rewarded in your heart for loving her well, perhaps with a heartfelt letter from your daughter, like the one I was greatly blessed to receive from mine.
Starting today, how will you begin preparing for your daughter’s wedding day? Please share your thoughts with me.