I always tear up during the Father Daughter dance. The symbolism of the dance, even though the father has already given away his daughter by this point in the day, means more to me now than ever.
As time marches on, I’m forced to realize that we won’t always have our fathers. Or that the passage of time may change our fathers in ways we never imagined. Could it really have been 25 years ago that I danced with my own father on my wedding day? What I remember the most was how we glided across the dance floor together in big sweeping motions. I’m sure to the guests watching us it didn’t appear as graceful as it felt, but for that moment in time we were Fred and Ginger. The thing that puzzles me is I can’t find a photograph of us dancing. Was it that one wasn’t taken or for some reason did I not order one?
And so, as a photographer, capturing this moment in time for every bride and her father is almost as important to me as the bride and groom shots. Sure, it’s great to have an artistically composed photo of this moment but more than anything it’s something to jog the memory long after the cake has been cut and the flowers have been thrown. What did you talk about with your dad during the dance? Could either of you really dance or did you just have fun faking it? Maybe your dad took that opportunity to tell you something very meaningful, like how proud you’ve made him over the years or how much he loves you. Or maybe you didn’t talk at all, but just shared the moment together.
And what is your father thinking as he dances with you? As he holds the hand of his grown daughter during this dance, does he reflect back to a day when he held that same, but much smaller hand as you and he crossed the street together? Can his strong hand still protect the woman that little girl has grown into? And where did the time go?
I’m the mother of two daughters. I imagine someday I’ll be watching my girls dance with their dad and memories will come flooding back…their father holding them as a new baby, teaching them how to ride their bikes, pulling their first loose tooth, teaching them how to drive and moving them to college. And I realize not only will it be hard for me to let go of them, but watching my husband symbolically “let go” may be almost as difficult if not more.
So, take it from me, even if you don’t see the value in it now, make sure you keep a photo of you and your dad dancing. Someday, it will mean the world to you.