The Secret of the Best Wedding Blessings: Find the Memoir Moments That Fit Your Child's Purest Self

Nik and Kate in the butterfly room, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, April, 2013

Three years ago today our only daughter became a bride and wife. Stuart and I were asked to write wedding blessings to read in the ceremony. We were honored and a little daunted by the seriousness of the occasion. How to choose the words when the heart was so full, the memories so overwhelming, the hopes and dreams so large?

We talked about memories. I reviewed my journals. We went back to our own favorite sources of language — poetry and spiritual writers.

The blog post below, written exactly three years ago today, has found a place online as people search for the topics of wedding blessings, especially for mother-daughter and father-daughter occasions.

Happy anniversary, Nik and Kate. I’ll always associate your wedding with Mother’s Day. Every year we add new memoir moments to the foundation we built together in childhood.

Here’s hoping that many other parents and children will find their own moments of joy, their own beautiful words from poets and wisdom figures.

Most of all, here’s hoping that love, so strong in youth, continues throughout a lifetime.


Stuart, Kate, and me, the moment before walking down the aisle. Joy Rittenhouse, photographer.

A Blessing from a Mother to Her Daughter Upon the Occasion of Her Wedding

May 8, 2010

Kate, I have been flooded with memories in the last months and weeks as we have journeyed together toward this day.

Before you were born, I felt God knitting you together inside me, like the Psalmist says.

And before you turned two, you were you. Here are a few descriptions from the journal I kept for you since the day you were born, describing you to your adult self I then imagined: “Your hands are so gentle and so expressive. When you want me to come, you hold your whole body forward, cupping your hands in the most plaintive gesture I have ever seen. Just perfect for El Greco or Picasso’s Blue Period.”

And here you are in the journal just before your second birthday: Dad was swinging you in the tire swing hanging from the chestnut tree in our Goshen back yard. “How high do you want to go?” he asked. “I want to go as high as the wind!” you replied.

The first book you read on your own was called What Color is Love? When I asked what you thought the color of love was, you did not skip a beat. You exclaimed, eyes shining, “Hot pink!” When asked where you want to live 20 years from now, you said, “In a pink tile house with white trim and with hot pink flowers in the garden.”

When you were seven years old, you came up to me and shyly asked, “What do you call your husband when you get married?  Is it a broom?” I swallowed my smile and told you the word you were looking for was “groom.”

And there he is. Your groom.  He started showing up in the journal in 2003, just before he graduated from Goshen College and just after your email courtship while you were in London taking your fine arts course. This is what I said after we met officially at El Camino Restaurant, “He seems interesting, curious, intelligent, mature, and sensitive.” We liked him at once, noticed the gentle way he treated you, and now we have come to love him as a second son.

As a final blessing from the two of us to the two of you, here is a wise and practical love poem by poet Jack Ridl, who grew up in Pittsburgh.

Take Love for Granted

Assume it’s in the kitchen,

under the couch, high

in the pine tree out back,

behind the paint cans

in the garage. Don’t try

proving your love

is bigger than the Grand

Canyon, the Milky Way,

the urban sprawl of L.A.

Take it for granted. Take it

out with the garbage. Bring

it in with the take out. Take

it for a walk with the dog.

Wake it every day, say,

“Good morning.” Then

make the coffee. Warm

the cups. Don’t expect much

of the day. Be glad when

you make it back to bed.

Be glad he threw out that

box of old hats. Be glad

she leaves her shoes

in the hall. Snow will

come. Spring will show up.

Summer will be humid.

The leaves will fall

in the fall. That’s more

than you need. We can

love anybody, even

everybody. But you

can love the silence,

sighing, and saying to

yourself, “That’s her.”

“That’s him.” Then to

each other, “I know!

Let’s go out for breakfast!”

God bless you, Kate, as you fly as high as the wind, plant hot pink flowers in your garden, sweep out troubles with a broom, and live in peace, lots of laughter, and deep satisfaction with your groom.

A Blessing from a Father to His Daughter Upon the Occasion of Her Wedding

Kate, I want to highlight a few of the quintessential qualities I associate with you. These qualities have been present from the beginning, but now they reflect more deeply the precious adult you have become.

At your core, Kate, you have always been attuned to your environment. You respond sensitively both to your physical setting and to the people who come into them:

  • Your fascination with color has been legendary in our family, beginning with your exclusively pink and purple clothing phase. Now you also help others appreciate color as you advise customers at Ambiance Boutique, decorate living and work spaces, or extol the beauty of Pittsburgh’s parks.
  • Your sensitivity to others is conveyed by the empathetic choices you make. You have always given high priority to your social relationships and to the feelings of others. You express your care for others through creative gift-giving and by volunteering your time for community causes. More recently, you have embraced the gift of hospitality. We will never forget how capably Nik and you orchestrated your first family Thanksgiving this past November.
  • Another key quality for you, Kate, is your tenacity. We recall your gritty determination in a high school tennis match that seemed to continue until well after sunset. You demonstrate your tenacity in your loyalty and devotion to your family and to your many friends, and they honor you with their presence here today.

You bring these qualities – and many others – to your marriage to Nik. You have chosen well. We welcome Nik as a second son and are delighted with the way his many strengths complement yours. Both of you have much to contribute to each other and to the world. We are confident that together you will confront together the challenges that will surely come your way. And we encourage you to celebrate together the life events that will bring you joy.

Oscar Romero, the archbishop who was martyred for his faith in 1980 in El Salvadore, left us these wise words:

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

May you, Nik and Kate, experience God’s abundant love and boundless grace in your marriage – today and always.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Marian Beaman on May 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Love this! What’s not to love about romance and marriage mingled with parental wisdom? One day you will make jottings of Nik and Kate’s grand-children.

    On my desktop, I have a folder of sayings from our four: Patrick, Curtis, Jenna, and Ian. A choice one from Curtis, age 3, matches your quote from Kate: In the back yard: “Look, there’s the moon! I want to put on my moon shoes and shoot up to the moon and eat some cheese.”

    Okay, I feel another “post” coming on!

    • shirleyhs on May 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Oh good. That’s the power of memoir. It ignites memories in others also.

      Love the moon shoes! That’s the kind of image parents treasure. And hope that their children will always carry inside themselves into their adult lives.

      I’ll look forward to reading your other memories, Marian.

  2. Sharon Lippincott on May 8, 2013 at 11:37 am

    How lovely that your tradition allows people other than the minister to speak at weddings. All three of ours are long since married, two in standard tradition and one elopement. Grandchildren perhaps less than ten years away from that altar. If we don’t have the opportunity to publicly bless, we can certainly write them for the couple. Thank you for sharing this beautiful example.

    • shirleyhs on May 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks, Sharon. There are indeed many ways to bless those who are getting married. Thanks for reminding us of that and of the possibility of more than one generation’s blessing on the young couple. There is power, as you know so well, in building on the love of past generations.

  3. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on May 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Tears well up as I finish reading your blessings. I am so gratified when deep sharing happens between generations. There’s a book out now about “zapping the grandma gap,” and I feel like what you shared here zaps a lot of emptiness in our world. Thank you, Shirley!

  4. shirleyhs on May 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Thank you, Dolores. The hard part of reading these words three years ago was getting through them without too many visible tears. I’m interested in what it means to zap the grandma gap. Haven’t heard that term, but I’ll take your word for it that it’s a good thing. 🙂

    • Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on May 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      I haven’t read the book, but I like the concept.

  5. Tina Barbour on May 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Lovely, lovely blessings, Shirley. I can imagine that your daughter and her husband loved hearing them and felt very blessed by them.

    And how wonderful that you kept a journal about your daughter! That will be something that she will treasure, I’m sure.

  6. shirleyhs on May 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Thanks, Tina.

    When you keep a journal for a child, you never know when and how it will be used. But one thing is sure. No good memoir moment is ever wasted. 🙂

    Thanks, as always, for your careful read and insightful comment.

  7. Richard Gilbert on May 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

    So inspiring, especially as my own daughter moves toward marriage. Love the way love comes through from the start, in your loving attentions to your daughter; love that wise poem.

  8. shirleyhs on May 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Many blessings to you and your daughter as you look ahead to your own family celebration. The poem is published in Jack Ridl’s new book Standing Like a Heron.

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