beautiful ceremonyproud papaSome cake honey?Mom and Daughter Share a momentThe Groom and his fatherBuddies for lifebeauty in actionOcean Party into the wee hoursApril 14, 2009

USAir is taking us from Cancun, back to the Southeast USA now.   The last week was an out of character week for the Jackson family.   We were at an all-inclusive beach resort, called the “Blue Bay Esmerelda” at Playa Del Carmen about 45 minutes from Cancun.   Food, drinks, shows, etc. were all included in a 6 day vacation that was based on the gathering of the Troutman and Jackson families and their friends for Emily and Nick’s wedding.    While I can’t share any photos with you today,  I’ll have plenty soon, once I get them from Trevor Clark, our photographer who trained under one of the best in the world,  Corey Rich.

I’ll try to describe the wedding objectively; however, knowing that it is coming from the father of the bride, you can expect that I was in parental heaven and there hasn’t been a better wedding since Kristine and I got married, J.

On Saturday we all unwrapped our only set of clean clothes, and laid them out on our respective beds.   Emily, in her bridal suite, had her wedding dress, along with the bride’s maids dresses all ready for a mass “to do” of beautiful young ladies getting ready to impress the boys.      Meanhwhile,  Nick, Joel, Nathan, Rafa, Dane, and Matt were all getting on their dress shirts and Nick’s Dad, Rick was in charge of showing them how to do their ties.     A noble job for the father of the Groom, showing off his advanced dressing skills to the boys who, for that moment,  were resigned to be the students of the wiser man.

The wedding was scheduled to start on the beach at 4pm and the boys got down to the beach in front of the “steakhouse” restaurant to a wedding waiting to happen.   A beautiful, simple alter, with enough seating for the friends and family in the sand.    Anyone wearing shoes shed them before hitting the beach as the Groomsmen sat everyone in anticipation of the arrival of the Bride and her maids.    Rafa, who is from Mexico City and one of Nick’s best friends, was with Ben Stookesberry, where we ran into him at the Agua Azul.    We were all running the beautiful waters of the river before coming to Cancun.   Rafa and Ben, and the “mexicans” as the crew is referred to, spent an extra day at the River after us, and then were running late for the wedding.   Dane was the only one hoping, at least a little bit, that Rafa would be late.    Dane was the only Groomsman missing a Bridesmaid and would walk isle with his baby brother, KC if Rafa was there, or walk with Michelle (smoking hot, like all of girls on that day).   Rafa showed up and Michelle walked with Rafa….

At 4pm Emily came around the corner into the Steakhouse as she staged up.  I got my first look at her in her wedding dress and her glowing beauty.   She was an angel on earth with her happy smile, completely relaxed and cheerful disposition, tanned body, and beautiful dress.    Her hair done up, veil intact (except when it kept falling out), and bare feet were a perfect testimony to the girl I have had the pleasure of raising and who has become a woman.

Within minutes the saxophone was playing outside with incredible skill, creating the parade of bridesmaids, and then Emily, in my arm, walking to the altar, barefoot with Nick, the minister, the bridesmaids and groomsman.    Looking to the left to Nick’s friends and family, and to the right to mine, there were so many smiling, loving, friendly faces.  People who have come a long way, from either Canada, or the USA, and some from Mexico to witness this event.     In good EJ form I went to pass Emily off to Nick at the Altar and gave Emily a kiss and started to walk away when the minister kept trying to get my attention.  I didn’t hear her until she said to me for the third time,  “Say I Do”.   I was stunned as she must know that I am the father not the groom….  OH, Yea,  she must have asked me if I give Emily to Nick….  I didn’t hear that one.     I just guessed that was the question and said “I Do” but had no way of knowing just what I had just committed to.     Later I found out it was as I suspected.

The ceremony was quick, but meaningful, with the exchange of vows, and the giving of the rings.    We shot some photos on a pier, before getting kicked off of it, as it was not part of our resort and then headed for dinner at poolside.    I changed my clothes and got into my Patagonia board shorts and checkered Vans shirt- ready for the reception beach party after dinner.

Rachel gave an incredibly moving maid of honor toast at dinner, talking of her friendship with Emily as a kindergartner together and growing up facing challenges, etc..   Joel also had a wonderful toast as the best man, and best friend to Nick from a young child to today.      There were a good number of toasts, each one reflecting on what wonderful people both Nick and Emily are.   I couldn’t agree more.   My toast was simply that I believe I couldn’t have hand picked a better mate for life for Emily, and that Emily is the best woman I can imagine for Nick and that their young marriage is the right move for them and will serve as a great example for what a relationship can be, simply by starting off with solid character yourself, and then applying that to a whole hearted commitment to a single other person.

We migrated back to the beach with a sound system and Emily’s Ipod with a preselected playlist of everything from “Love Shack” to Brick House, some Earth, Wind, and Fire, to Eminem, and more.     An open bar, compliments of being at an all inclusive resort, and the wind off the beach created a great mood for dancing, frolicking, talking, etc..    Nick’s Dad, Rick stopped off in Cuba on the way here and picked up some cigars for the occasion.    We bit off the ends of ours and lit them up to celebrate the moment.   My second cigar in my life, and I enjoyed it.   It seemed quite fitting, as we looked at our kids, all grown up and just married, and then at each other, now the “in-laws” and related by marriage, even though we are a country apart.    By midnight Emily and Nick snuck out along with Kristine, KC, the grandparents, etc. and when I looked around it was the bridesmaids, groomsman, the “mexicans”, Clay, Tara, Ben, etc…      I got the bright idea that since it was a full moon, and a beautiful night that the right thing to do was to go skinny dipping in the ocean.    Apparently Ben Stookesberry and myself were fast enough to miss the lifeguard/security guard guys that were appointed to stop just that type of thing.   Bunch of kids drinking, and then going swimming in the ocean at night…   No worries, we were well into the ocean and clueless that there were five guys who stopped the rest of the would be skinny dippers in the midst of dropping trowel.      Ben and I were out for about 20 minutes when we realized that nobody else was coming.    Clay came out for a while but went back.  Apparently he was recruited to go find us and bring us back, but in good Clay form, just said “hi” hung out with us for a while and went back empty handed.     The swim was awesome and the full moon made it.  It is really shallow for a long way so we had to go way out to get to the deep water.    OK, so I can see where some people just shouldn’t be doing that…

When Ben and I came back in, with nothing to wear except what was on the beach, behind five security guards, we wondered if they would give us access to our clothes again.   They did, and we joined back into the final leg of the festivities.

The next day was interesting as we found out “who kissed who” etc. and apparently Emily and Nick set up some new romances.     For Emily and Nick it was just another day, and no wonder as they have been living together since they were 15 years old (before they were going out).    The ceremony was something that was special, in that it made their commitment official, and public, but was such a small step for them as people, with such a small difference in the reality of their lives.

I am the father of a married daughter.   I am the father of a 15 year old boy, and now the father of a 7 month old boy.   I now have my own son-in-law that is 20 years old too.    Wow, that is cool.    I am very lucky.

EJ