Kayla & Shahar's Wedding

Kayla and Shahar's
Wedding Banquet
Tucson, USA
September 22, 2019

I certainly never expected to be walking anybody down the aisle, let alone Kayla. I feel so honored that she asked me to be the one to "give her away" at her wedding.

I heartily approve of the groom, Shahar. About a year-and-a-half ago Kayla told me that she'd met somebody she was serious about. She told me they had met through Tinder, no less. Though their engagement hadn't been even imagined back in those early days, I naturally wanted to know more about her new beau, wanting to trust that Kayla was with somebody decent, compatible, and who would treat my friend well. Looking back at my concern for her... well, perhaps I was indeed the right person to stand in for father of the bride the day Kayla and Shahar eventually married.

David and Shahar Play Darts
Shahar has thoroughly met my vetting. In the time since the couple first got together I've spent stretches of several days with him over a couple previous occasions. The first time was over a visit I made here to Tucson a year ago. Then, there was another visit they made up to Seattle this past Chistmas. Both times I felt a comfortable connection being around Shahar. He's soft-spoken, kind to Kayla, and curious and open to the world. The two play and joke well with each other but also connect well over serious conversation. They've got a strong base for a strong marriage.

Now over this visit, I've gotten to know even better who Shahar is and where he comes from. Much of this good impression I've gathered came through spending lots of time around his parents--both of whom are giving and generous people. I've now been in Tucson for a full week over which time they not only took me in, but also fed me and drove me around town to run various errands--despite all the preparations they had to make for the wedding, themselves. (For some reason the rehearsal dinner was scheduled an entire week ahead of the wedding day; it was Shahar's parents who had the better home in which to accommodate out-of-town guests. )

Kayla and David
Meet for Coffee
Other moments, it's been just Shahar and I going about Tucson with a friend or two of his, alongside. We'll go out for a meal, a cup of coffee, or some other way to spend time, together. There was no blowout bachelor party or any other scheduled craziness. Rather, at the end of Shahar's single life the two of us went out for a casual evening throwing darts along with Shahar's brother, Eitan, who had also come to Tucson to attend the wedding.

Though it's a huge step in their relationship the wedding won't mean a wholly brand-new life for Kayla and Shahar. About a year ago they'd already bought a house together. They've turned that into a comfortably furnished home replete with pet dog and pet hedgehog: likely their only dependents, ever, both insist. But over this past week leading up to their wedding day Shahar has been banished from that house of theirs. Kayla insisted that the groom wasn't allowed to see the bride until they were at the altar. I got the sense her directive came more out of whimsy than any cultural tradition, but it's created some good moments. Shahar's spent the past week staying at his parents' home across Tucson which has delighted his mother and afforded him and me (also staying there) far more time together.

David Plays Dress-up
On the wedding day Kayla wore a wedding gown made of fabric from India she'd selected to be tailored into traditional style. Kayla had requested that as member of the wedding party I wear at least some sort of jacket or suit. I opted for a tuxedo--one of few occasions I've ever worn dress clothes. My bowtie was of a color to match Kayla's wedding gown. Up until an hour before the ceremony I'd been madly wondering why I had chosen to wear an actual bowtie that I'd have to tie myself. I could have opted for a clip-on or a necktie cut from the same cloth--that's what all the groomsmen were wearing. After clumsily trying again and again to reproduce the motions from an on-line how-to video the entire afternoon I finally formed a knot that looked something like a bowtie should.

The final moments leading right up to the ceremony were spent with just Kayla and I standing alone in the dressing room reserved for the bride's party. Everybody else: Kayla's mother, the maid of honor, and all the bridesmaids had already taken their places elsewhere--proceeding on up the aisle ahead of the bride. Kayla and I chatted. When she worried about potentially fumbling her vows I tried to reassure her that she needn't be nervous: Shahar had said the exact same thing, himself, moments earlier, I told her. Then, I told Kayla, in all sincerity, how genuninely flattered I was that she'd asked me to play such a significant role in their wedding.

Giving the Bride Away
"Well, it was you who set the standard," she said. "So many things I'd never imagined doing myself before we met that summer studying together: simple things like riding a bus or even pedalling a bicycle uphill--those were all things that were new to me. But beyond that, getting out and traveling places on my own, what expectations I ought to have in life, overall... those all came from you."

One of us--I think it was her--made the joke that my role must therefore be "surrogate father of the bride".

Somebody who worked at the wedding venue knocked, came in, and led us to the other side of old wooden gates outside the courtyard where the ceremony was taking place. The gates swung open and Kayla and I marched slowly up the aisle. We stood at the end, embraced softly, and gave each other a simultaneous cheek-peck. Kayla proceeded to the altar to stand on the other side of the officiant from her groom. I shuffled over to sit next to Kayla's mother in the last open seat in the front row.

The ceremony had moments both sweet and silly. The point was made how an initial meeting on-line swiping right had blossommed into a marriage. When it came time to read her vows Kayla yanked a printed version from which to read aloud out from inside her bra. She responded to the audience's laughter that, "There aren't any pockets in wedding gowns!" The ketubah was read out by Shahar's father, Moshe, then immediately signed to formalize the ceremony. I felt that I'd played a small role in that immediate signing by relating beforehand to everybody in Shahar's family the cautionary tale of how nobody else in a room filled with hundreds had a pen to sign the traditional wedding document when I attended Zach and Rachel's wedding several years ago. This time, a pen was readily available at the altar.

First Dance as Newlyweds
Shahar, Kayla: I am so happy to see the two of you together. Thanks to you and your families for taking me in and sharing your homes, your love, and your kindness with me. I'm honored to have been invited and know that I'll never play a similar role--let alone giving the bride away--in any other wedding.

Now, it's been one full day after Kayla and Shahar got married. In the morning there was one final event hosted at Shahar's family home: a brunch for out-of-town guests laden with lox, cream(ed) cheese, and bagels. I'd guess I'd better get packing. In just a few hours, at 4:30 in the morning, Kayla and Shahar will return to pick me up. The three of us will drive west out of Tucson together, perhaps like in some cowboy movie, chasing the Arizona sunrise. But, unlike it would be in any old western our destination is the PHX airport where we'll board two inter-continental flights. Theirs will take them to Japan on their honeymoon. As for me...

Next stop: Bogota