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Robin Washington with his daughter Erin


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Daughter gets hitched without a hitch

By Robin Washington
Duluth News Tribune
Published: June 12, 2011

It was cold and drizzly all week and, in the Massachusetts equivalent of what we’re used to in Duluth, even cooler by the ocean. Yet the bride was being optimistic, if pragmatic.

“If it rains on Saturday,” she said of the decision day before the wedding, “we’ll have it in the synagogue.”

Saturday came, and the sun even came out. But by then, I was having other worries. The park overlooking the Atlantic might be hard for out-of-town guests to find. Once they got there, parking could be a problem. And at the rehearsal, people kept tripping in a gopher hole.

“Maybe we should have gotten her a wedding planner,” I said to her stepmom quietly.

It helped that my daughter Erin is, in addition to working for a newspaper, a choreographer — a skill, along with her dancing, she certainly didn’t get from me.

One of the first acts in this production was two summers ago, when she and Gene flew across the country for him to ask for her hand, or the 21st century equivalent.

I was impressed by the trip alone, though I recognized it would be a mixed marriage. Not ethnically, in the amalgamation of Gene’s first-generation Russian Jewish clan with our black-Jewish-and-everything-else mix, but politically, with their conservative leanings.

“Very, very conservative,” our soon-to-be cousin Elina corrected me at a pre-wedding dinner.

Still, if Erin and Gene agreed, what else mattered? And his family was impressed that the rabbi was Michelle Obama’s first cousin, leading some to wonder if presidential family peepers might crash the wedding.

There was little chance of that when Sunday came, drearily overcast and the thermometer barely breaking into the 50s. Who could have guessed when the couple first decided on a May wedding outdoors the whole country would be experiencing everything from tornadoes to 30-degree temperature dips? At least there’d be plenty of parking.

After the bride and groom signed the ketubah — Jewish wedding contract — at their home, everyone gathered at the park and waited while Erin dressed. Some fortuitously brought winter coats.

“Where’s Erin?” I was getting asked, and the best thing the father of the bride can do at this point is, well, mumble something affirming. Regardless of the weather, I knew she wasn’t getting cold feet.

And there she was. Beautiful, bare-shouldered, and barely a goosebump. If she can take it, everyone else can, and the sun peeked through to give its approval. It was time to make it official.

“I consecrate you to me as my wife according to the laws of Moses and the traditions of our people,” Rabbi Capers Funnye said for Gene to repeat.

“I concentrate you to me as my wife,” Gene started.

“No, no,” the rabbi interrupted. “Consecrate. We gotta get this right.”

He got it right. And so did Erin, and both of them in their choice of each other, made apparent in their first pas de deux (inside the synagogue, with no gopher holes). He’s quite the dancer, too — and an engineering grad and pharmacist to boot.

Even Dad found a way to move his feet in the father-daughter number. It helps to have a Dancing-With-the-Stars caliber partner.

“You look so proud. — You’re beaming,” people said to me that night and afterward.

I was. And am, of my talented daughter and son-in-law.

A wedding planner? Who needs one?


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