Last Friday Abigail, our only child, tied the knot with our new son-in-law Tyler. When I say they “tied the knot,” they literally did so in an Irish knot tying ceremony. It was beautiful!
About an hour before that, when I walked into the room and saw Abigail for the first time in her wedding dress, I just cried. As I hugged her, I continued to cry and could not say a word. She was hugging me and asked, “Dad, are you trying to tell me something?” I couldn’t get the words out, so she said, “Dad, if you’re trying to tell me something squeeze my hand.” With my head on her shoulder, still crying, I kept gently squeezing her hand. I wanted to say, “You look beautiful, and I love you so much,” but the tears of joy overwhelmed me. Growing up Abigail loved Disney princesses – Belle from Beauty & the Beast was her favorite – and she looked like a princess!
If you’re a parent who’s married off a child, particularly a father handing off your little girl, then you have some sense of how I felt. As we walked down the aisle, I couldn’t look at my family, friends, and other guests because I felt like I would have broken down in a flood of tears. It was so overwhelming.
The ceremony was in the woods and was so joyous between the knot tying, personal vows, and Pastor Rick (who I affectionately call Pastor Sangria) whose heart felt words touched everyone.
We had several hundred guests at the reception, and it could not have been a better celebration! It was a perfect sunny day that turned into a beautiful night with a crescent moon. Drinks flowed, there was dancing, and lots of people enjoyed cigars on the patio overlooking a small lake.
It was a joyous three-day celebration. After the Thursday night rehearsal dinner Jane and I met dozens of friends and family and partied well into the night. Friday was the wedding, and the celebration went into the early hours of the morning for many of us. Saturday afternoon/evening was a cigar party for dozens more close friends.
Everything was better than I could have imagined. I’d like to share a few things I learned as I reflect on the day.
There are so many details that go into a wedding, and it was stressful for Jane and Abigail. Many times, I said, “Don’t worry about the color of napkins, number of hors d’oeuvres, or other details that people will never remember.” I was wrong. Those “little things” that people don’t consciously notice make a huge difference.
I know this to be true from my own preparation when I give keynote talks. No one but me knows all of the time, attention and thought that go into the details of getting ready. The selection of images, choosing the right font and size, positioning of words and pictures on the screen, and practice matters. Most people won’t outwardly notice those details but when you deliver a great presentation it’s the accumulation of the details that makes the difference.
Stay in the Moment
I’ve often been accused of being on my phone too much. Guilty! It’s simply a fact of modern life and working for myself. However, knowing there was a photographer and a videographer at the wedding, I never pulled my phone out to take a picture. That allowed me more time to enjoy the moment, say hello to people and connect with friends and family.
Weddings are such big events that there’s never enough time to talk with everyone or talk with any person as much as you’d like. Staying present allowed for more significant moments, emotions, and memories.
I honestly had no expectations for the wedding. By that I mean, I didn’t know what Abigail’s dress looked like and I didn’t try to imagine it. I didn’t see the venue until the day of the event, and I didn’t spend any time envisioning what it might look like. Credit to Jane and Abigail because they did all of the planning and work.
What I’ve learned is this; when I have little or no expectations, there’s very little room for disappointment. No matter how the day unfolded, I knew it would be fun and magical. The older I get, the more I feel comfortable letting go of expectations and justlooking to the future with excitement and anticipation. This approach allowed me to enjoy the moment much more than I would have otherwise.
Being with Loved Ones
When Abigail and Tyler walked into the reception and saw everyone, she said it was so wonderful to see so many people they loved and are loved by, friends and family.
Afterwards she said, “That must be what it’s like to enter heaven and see all the people you love and who love you.” I’m sure as wonderful as she felt in that moment, heaven will be on a whole different level.
Abigail had been living with us until the wedding. It was hard because there comes a time when it’s right for your children to move out. However, in her case it didn’t make financial sense for her to do that before the wedding. I joked with people and said, “We love her to death, but we’ll like her a lot more when she moves out!” I’m certain she’ll enjoy us much more now that she’s started this new phase of life.
During the wedding I saw a younger version of Abigail, the person who was so carefree, happy, and full of joy. It was infectious! When I texted her the day after to ask her if she enjoyed a surprise that Tyler had planned, she texted back to say, “I’m living my dream.” If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can imagine the joy I felt at that moment!
A little over a year and a half ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about the passing of my father. Each of those posts drummed up a lot of tears, tears of sorrow.
As I reflected on writing this post, there were tears but this time they were tears of joy.
I don’t know where you stand on matters of faith but mine compels me to give thanks to God. Jane and I are beyond blessed! We have wonderful families and incredible friends. More than that, we have each other. We are very conscious of the fact that if God had not been in the center of our relationship we probably would not still be married, may not have ever had Abigail, and our friendships would be much, much different than they are today. All thanks to Him!
To all of those who’ve loved us and supported us – thank you! We love you and are thankful for you in our lives.
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His new book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable.
Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!