Wedding Day

Published 8:09 am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I consider myself as a tough guy, perhaps not physically, but from a mental standpoint. I guess it comes with the job, having to deal with issues that impact our little corner of the world and dealing with a multitude of personalities.

But no matter how tough I am on the interior, I was overcome with emotion on Saturday, finding myself choking back the tears on more than one occasion.

For all the fathers out there who have walked your little girl, now a grown woman, down the aisle and gave her away to another man, you totally understand how emotional it can be. For those men yet to tackle that mission, nothing I can say or write will prepare you for that moment. Feel free to let your emotions go because, like me, it’s your wish that you won’t have to pass that way again.

My eyes filled with tears shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday when I saw my daughter for the first time in her wedding dress. Oh what a sight to behold. Danielle was past beautiful….she was downright stunning.

The actual ceremony was non-stressful for me; I did get misty-eyed when she and Brandon performed the sand ceremony and laughed out loud when Danielle pumped her bouquet in the air just after the minister pronounced the couple as man and wife.

What I wasn’t prepared for emotionally was the traditional father/daughter dance at the reception. I had prior knowledge of the song by Krystal Keith that Danielle had chosen for that special moment. We both listened to it on YouTube weeks earlier, but those words pierced my heart as I held the hand of my baby and peered into those beautiful eyes as we danced to…….

“Daddy dance with me, I want you to see the woman I’ve become.

Daddy don’t let go, I want you to know I’ll always need your love.

Today I became his wife, but I’ll be your baby girl for life.”

I couldn’t hold back the tears. My mind went back to the days when Deborah and I walked Danielle into class for the first time at Ahoskie Elementary School; to those looks of wonder and excitement on her face on Christmas mornings; that same look emerged when we took Dani to Disney World at age eight; to her high school graduation; and to her first purchase of a new vehicle.

As I stared into those beautiful blue eyes, an equally beautiful young woman stared back. I swelled with pride, thinking of what Danielle had become….growing not only in beauty, but in heart, mind and spirit. I knew that the majority of the eyes watching us on the dance floor at the Colerain Beach pavilion belonged to the many individuals that Danielle has befriended during her short 28 years on this Earth.

The most fitting tribute of the night came from Danielle’s best friend, Jenny Hewitt, who served as her Maid of Honor and, fittingly, caught the bouquet. Jenny told the story of her love and admiration of my daughter….how Danielle stepped in and filled a void in her life and what she meant to her sons. Thanks, Jenny, for sharing that story in front of a hundred or so guests, it did my heart good to hear those words….I guess Deborah did a good job instilling the values set deep inside Danielle’s heart.

There are so many people to thank for helping us make Saturday, June 22 such a special day….bridesmaids Ashley Askew, Hayes Bryant and Laura Johnston; groomsmen Jason Harrell, Jon White and Chris White (the best – and only – New York Jets fan I’ve ever met); the flower girls Savannah and Hayley Johnston; the “chalkboard” bearers River Harrell and Mason Mizelle; program and guest book attendants Ashley Gore and Brandy Kent; pianist Barbara Brown; sound man Bracy Davenport; the caterers Ellen and Keith Jones; Mary Ann Williams for the wedding cake; to Theressa Joyner for the white chocolate suckers and candy; “Uncle” Keith Phelps for roasting a superb pig and his wife Vicki for the great pasta salad; ditto for Bill Harrell for the tasty Boston Butts; our photographer and great niece, Lauren Swink Bright; the gatekeeper Craig Felton; hairdressers/make-up artists Johnnie Bryan and Victoria Stroud; and the Rev. Donald Roberts. I hope I didn’t overlook anyone; if so, know that your efforts are appreciated.

A special thanks to my wife’s co-worker and friend Crystal Sumner for keeping Deborah sane in the weeks and days leading up to June 22.

To the Mistress of Ceremonies, Michelle Bristow, you are the best, as was her sidekick Willie Brown. Her efforts in decorating and flower arrangements were aided by Michelle Bass Harrell, Alessia Huckabee, and Jennifer Whitaker Wheeler.

To the best man and my daughter’s new father-in-law, Ashley Harrell, not only can you grill some lip-smacking BBQ chicken, thank you and Sheryl for loving my daughter as if she was your own.

And, finally, to my new son-in-law….Brandon Harrell, you are one lucky man!

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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