You answer, “I do.” And you remember the words forever.
A few words really count at weddings. Not only for the newly-married, but also for the Father of the Bride. To answer “who gives this woman…” with only two words “I do” doesn’t begin to express a father’s emotion at that moment.
Many times we fathers answer “Her Mother and I.” That’s four words and I don’t remember any of those four words costing me under a hundred dollars a word.
One time I thought about answering, “Who gives away this bride?” with nine words: “Her mother and I–and the First State Bank.”
I’ve got practice. I’ve given away three daughters. While two daughters still wore diapers, I gave away a bride. That couple eloped and the father who forbid the marriage wasn’t there. After I gave away those two grown daughters, I served again as a stand-in Father of the Bride. Our Aunt Pearl was marrying another senior citizen and when she asked me to give her away I proudly accepted. Then I gave away my third daughter. That’s a total of five brides given.
Fifteen words at the wedding I’ll never forget, resounded from a cousin-of-the-bride who attended my first wedding 68 years ago. I was six foot three but only weighed 156 pounds. My best man was five foot ten and outweighed me. As we walked out to meet the preacher, her shrill five-year-old voice filled the church. “Mommy, is she going to marry the tall skinny one or the short fat one?”