Tuesday arrived. Breakfast at our house for anyone that wanted to join us. Renee was off to Walmart for those last minute purchases. Decorations were taking to the house where the reception was being held. Of coarse there was time built in to be at the beach.
As Jeff and I left the decorated reception area to make our way to the beach we both paused as we noticed Austyn kneeling on the ground in her swim top and shorts painting the word WEDDING on a piece of drift wood she had found earlier that morning. The board was naturally shaped on one end as if it were an arrow. Austyn has always found a way to make sure the details are done creatively and what Austyn thinks are important details no one else would ever think of. We laughed to ourselves as we realized how “Austyn” this day was. Our only daughter was getting married today and we were making our way to the beach to relax for a few hours before the ceremony. Sometime in the afternoon was feeling just fine.
It was finally time to get ready. We showered, dressed and checked in on Renee’. All seemed to be going well. Austyn, her cousin Carolyn, Pam and I made our way to the home where the reception was being held to get Austyn ready. Nails, hair, jewelry and the dress, she was beautiful. We were ready to make our way down the stairs when the thought crossed Austyn’s mind that she should go to the bathroom. When Austyn was little we called her the Potty Princess. It seemed as if she never had any warning that she needed to go to the bathroom. When she announced she had to go…she had to go. This seemed to always happen in the car. We would all laugh, announce to each other that the Potty Princess needed to go and the next restroom was the best. As the five of us looked at each other, Derk was in the room as well, we headed to the bathroom, each took a corner of the dress, lifted it up and Austyn sat down and Derk snapped the picture.
As I made my way out of the bedroom I realized that most of the family were still downstairs and not at the beach as earlier directed. “We are ready, please make your way to the beach”. As if they had been taken by surprise, they left the house and were on their way. The home we were using was a short walk to the beach, most likely under a half mile. A short beach walk that is but a very long isle walk in comparison to a church. The only ones left at the house were Austyn, Jeff and Derk. Jeff and Austyn began their walk. They talked and laughed, each time I glanced back to see where they were they were both wiping their eyes. That walk was the best part of the wedding for Jeff. His advise to every father facing that same walk; make it as long as possible, walk around the block if you have to.
Down the road, over the steps that crossed the small dunes and onto the beach. Austyn was barefoot and Jeff removed his sandals once on the sand. The family had gathered in a circle facing the water. Austyn and Brian would stand with their backs to the water and Matt, the minister would stand in the center of the circle. As we witnessed the ceremony the ocean was the backdrop. It was an amazing sight. As Austyn had planned it made the best pictures.
Brian cried as Austyn and Jeff walked toward him and that is all it took. We all cried with him. Vows, tears, a maid of honor who was a man and Austyn’s smile that said it all. This was right, this was good and this day was everything she had hoped for.
As the ceremony ended, Austyn and Brian walked down the beach. We made our way back up the hill and began to party. Music, dancing, drinks, amazing food, pictures, laughing and a beautiful sunset. For the father daughter dance Austyn had planned a surprise for Jeff. In October of the previous year, Jeff had agreed to do a recording for me. One of the songs on the CD was a lullaby that he sang to Austyn when she was a little girl. This was the song she had chosen to dance to. More tears, more laughter and a bit more perfection.
As we ended the evening, Brian and Austyn made their way back to change clothes and and leave the island. One more time we found ourselves saying good bye, this time it was to Mrs. Brian Ford.