COVID-19 alters her trip to the altar

Photos courtesy Scott Saalman

Guest Columnist


The wedding of my daughter Delaney and future son-in-law Max has become one of what claims to be “a million weddings” that have been postponed through August 2020 due to the pandemic.

I will let the “million” reference slide as uncontested fact, because, as a proud father, I have always considered my daughter to be “one in a million.”

She was to be wed the first weekend of June, and though born in this landlocked boot-shaped state of ours (rivers don’t count), Delaney has long dreamed of a barrier island wedding.

The Outer Banks obviously made quite an impression on Delaney as she grew. She stayed there a few times during summer in a rented beach house with her mother, brother, stepfather and dogs, and somehow—through geographical osmosis perhaps—determined that she was a child of salt air, surf song, sunny sky and expensive, expansive rentals with stilts.

That she was named after a Jimmy Buffett song might have helped shape her sunbaked thinking. “Delaney Talks To Statues” is likely the first song she heard in post-womb time, the warm symphony of blood rush and heartbeat already a faded soundtrack as her nervous parents merged the car onto I-64 East and hurtled her into newborn baby normal, the car’s CD player serenading, Father / daughter / down by the water…

My most cherished video shows her at age seven in the sunrise mist of the Gulf Coast playing cat and mouse with the tide, chasing the gulf foam one second, being chased the next, over and over, entranced by the changing rhythms of ebb and flow, a tiny barefooted sun-blushed angel in eternal Earth dance. I took great joy recording our private moment as she kept tempo with the tide, my brightly-hued-beach-clothed daughter burning like the sun through ghostly fog. Father / daughter / down by the water…

Not long ago, I rented a beach house — though I stayed behind and let Delaney and Max spend their first vacation together alone. She returned with an engagement ring offered to her at a waterfront eatery in Manteo.

It has been 27 years since I’ve personally been to the Outer Banks. I used to live in Newport News, Virginia, where locals bypassed the much closer Virginia Beach for a better seaside sojourn in not-too-distant North Carolina. In Nag’s Head, I suffered a terrible sunburn, then sun poison and, for 12 successive hours, vomited a Kentucky Fried Chicken lunch. Still, I’m looking forward to my long-overdue return to the Outer Banks.

I’m not ashamed to admit it: my daughter has to get married.

Wait, wait, not because of . . . well . . . that …

She has to get married because my wife Brynne and I recently bought the engaged couple a washer and dryer as an early wedding gift.

The pandemic prompted the purchase.

For the past two years, Delaney has lived an hour away due to college, yet, she returned home weekly because she missed her dad (well, dad’s washer and dryer). Once the COVID-19 threat became known, it was a no-brainer that she and Max needed their own washing machine, mainly as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of us spreading a contagion to each another.

“There’s no turning back,” I told Delaney after handyman Max installed their wedding gift. “There’s too much skin in the game now.”

Ever the eternal pessimist, I also advised her to form a prenuptial agreement regarding who gets the washer and who gets the dryer when they divorce. OK, if they divorce. OK, there will be no divorce. My original plan of matching toasters was so much cheaper. Damn you, COVID-19.

When Delaney was a tomboy, she stated that she would one day marry, not a boy, but a Siberian Husky, and I took great comfort imagining a future dog-in-law in the family album. But as she aged, Delaney’s perspective changed. She began favoring makeup and dresses. And then she became head over high-heels for a young man named Max.

I smiled recently learning how “Max” remains one of the most popular dog names in the U.S. Oh, the irony.

Surprisingly, I feel good about the marriage. Max is a responsible, decent guy. He’s not a hooligan out there stealing hubcaps, if you get my drift. He can install a washer, but he sucks at retrieving tennis balls.

I recently read a column I wrote about Delaney eight years ago. In it, I detailed how a Paul Simon song, “Father and Daughter,” gelled as “the soundtrack of our father-daughter relationship.”

“I'm gonna watch you shine / Gonna watch you grow / Gonna paint the sign / So you’ll always know / As long as one and one is two / There could never be a father / Who loved his daughter more than I love you.”

I also noted in the column how it’s a popular song for fathers-of-the-brides and brides to dance together to at wedding receptions. Knowing Delaney likely has her wedding-day detailed to the tee, I can’t help but end this column with the same plea I wrote when she was 12: “Save that dance for me, baby girl; save that dance for dad.”

Contact Scott Saalman at

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