You never know where you might be when you receive one of the most important phone calls of your life. A couple of weeks ago, on a Monday afternoon, I was on an errand to buy food for our dog, Buddy. As I was pulling-up in front of the store, my cell phone rang. Being a conscientious driver, I let the call go through to voicemail. After parking, I glanced at my phone and saw that there was a message from Ryan, my daughter Naomi’s boyfriend.
There was a very brief message saying only for me to call him back when I had time. It’s pretty unusual for Ryan to call me, however, as I returned his phone call I did not stop to think about why he wanted to talk to me.
After an exchange of greetings, Ryan got right to the point: “Avi, I would like your permission to marry your daughter.” Holy Camoly!! Did I let out a shout of jubilation in my car! It’s not very often that a father gives his consent for his daughter to marry her beloved while parked in front of Petco. But believe me, I readily would have given my approval regardless of where I had been at the moment.
Ryan and Naomi have been together for five years. They met in Lawrence, where Naomi attended the University of Kansas. Over the years, I have interacted with Ryan numerous times and I think very highly of him. He has a strong moral compass; I admire his service to our country when he was in the Army; and most importantly, Ryan is absolutely wonderful to Naomi.
During my phone conversation with Ryan, I did not want to pepper him with a 100 practical questions about wedding plans. Instead I wanted to enjoy the moment. However, I did learn from him that he had an engagement ring which Naomi had picked out. I thought to myself, “She gets that trait from her mother. Ben-Ora women always have a strong sense of what they want.”
About a week after our conversation, Ryan formally proposed. Skyping with them the next day, Eve and I could readily see their happiness.
At the moment, wedding plans are at a preliminary stage. Dates and venues are just beginning to be explored. But in case you were wondering, there is one thing that is absolutely crystal clear. I am not going to officiate at their wedding.
Eve and I co-officiated at the B’nei Mitzvah of our three children. But after Rebecca’s Bat Mitzvah, I realized that I do not want to officiate at any of my children’s weddings. Serving in the dual role of parent and rabbi was fitting when our kids were young. However, weddings are different. Now that they are adults, it is important for our children to make their own decisions about what they want the ceremony to be and who they want to officiate.
As for me, at Naomi’s wedding I just want to be her dad and to fully enjoy the experience.
If any of you parents out there have any suggestions about weddings, I am all ears. I have lots of experience officiating as a rabbi. But being the father of the bride is new territory for me. I could use any and all advice you have to offer!