How’s a Dad to Feel When His Daughter Goes Wedding Dress Shopping?

When our daughter got engaged in December, I had no idea what I was going to face in the coming days and weeks. Who knew that one of the first things to be done following an engagement is to go shopping for a wedding dress? Apparently it takes months for the wedding dress to be delivered once it is ordered. Then it needs to be altered, which takes even longer.

Ashlyn & Me

So less than a month after the engagement, off went my wife with our daughter and her future mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I may be an unusual dad, but I was feeling just a little left out. I wanted to go along. I wanted to feel a part of it all. I have never minded shopping, and this seemed to be one of the most important shopping days of my daughter’s entire life.

But “left out” wasn’t the only emotion I was feeling. My emotions were all over the map. So I decided to have a little fun with it and ask my Facebook friends just how I was supposed to feel while my (only) daughter was shopping for a wedding dress. Answers were predictable, poignant, even funny. People posted things like:

  • Lucky if he doesn’t have to go along.
  • Happy, and proud, and excited. Also a little left out of the fun, she’s all grown up, is this really happening? Shall I go on?
  • Happy, excited on the surface, a little wistful below, and profoundly glad that God has brought two beautiful people together.
  • If it’s anything like how the old babysitter feels, then I wish I was there to hug you.
  • I’m going to go with sadly elated.
  • Broke.
  • Old.
  • Very poooooor!
  • Happy but sad at the same time.

Yep. I pretty much felt all of those things. For some reason I kept having flashbacks of the moment she was born. I was wondering how this all happened so fast. I was incredibly happy for her. I was melancholy for me.

Time has a way of passing and stealing away moments that you wish would last forever. But time doesn’t stop. It keeps going and keeps on giving gifts that come into the present.

That’s why my wife, Tammy, and I always made a point of enjoying each and every stage through which our kids went. And that includes this present stage. It means that we will have a wonderful new member of the family and a whole new phase of life that will produce all new moments and memories.

In the mean time, we went to the bridal store last Saturday. I got to see Ashlyn try on her dress. I pulled out the credit card and paid for it. And I recognized that the little baby who made me shed tears of joy when she was born, is at the phase and stage of life that will probably make me shed more tears over time gone by, over moments that have passed, over memories about to be made, over my little girl becoming a married woman…always mine, but also now belonging to another whom we love like a son.

So, how’s a dad to feel when his daughter goes wedding dress shopping? The whole gamut of emotions.

But mostly blessed.

How would, or will, or did you feel?

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11 thoughts on “How’s a Dad to Feel When His Daughter Goes Wedding Dress Shopping?

  1. I have a few years till I get to experience these emotions. However reading your post makes me sad and hopeful at the same time! Great post pastor! You really know how to tug at the heart strings….

  2. Great post. The Lord has blessed me by giving children at all the various phases; 2, 6, 7, 16, 20 and 25 (plus two grandsons). Having kids at such a wide range of ages makes me so appreciative of each age. They really do grow before my eyes. I love being a father and treasure each moment with each one of them.

  3. Ironically, I read this entry after buying a wedding dress for one of my daughters tonight. I think you got it exactly right, Tom: parents need to savor every stage and celebrate the new learning, laughter, and–occasionally–limitations which each provides. God’s blessings to you and your family!

    (Yes, all caps is normally annoying, but I really do mean to shout that.)

    Speaking of feeling old, Ashlyn was one of the kids when I was at First Stage. The kids! I feel old when I hear that one of her cohort is in university or something. Married? I cannot process how old I must be. I’m going to go shopping for a walker now.

    • Thanks, so much, Aaron. We have such great memories of watching you carry Ashlyn around on your back in “The Homecoming.” Hope all is well with you. I will certainly pass your congratulations on to Ashlyn. Hope that walker shopping went well…