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Who Gives This Bride?


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.53.52 PMWhen my friend Kae Fleming said that Santa would escort her son’s bride down the aisle, I knew there was a good story.


It seems that for years, Santa had surprised the Fleming family while they ate Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Unknown to Kae’s son Drake, Santa was their family friend, Bobby, who owned the local dry cleaning business.  Like other children, Drake noticed Santa’s red suit of hanging in the dry cleaners and accepted Bobby’s explanation that Santa had to get his clothes cleaned, just like everyone else.  Every Christmas Eve, Santa held Drake on his lap and gave him a small gift.


Bobby lived on a big farm close to the Duck River where he invited friends to play, fish, swim, and ride 4-wheelers.  Among Bobby’s guests were Drake’s family and Bobby’s girlfriend and her two young daughters.  It never occurred to Drake or the other children that Bobby was Santa; he was a friend who cleaned their clothes and had a great place to play.


Fast forward to Drake’s high school years.  For four years in homeroom class, his assigned seat was beside Kayla Floyd, Bobby’s girlfriend’s daughter.  By the fall of their sophomore years, Drake and Kayla’s friendship morphed into a romance.  A romance that blossomed and grew.  They played team sports: football for him, softball for her.  They went to proms, hung out with friends, courted like high school sweethearts do.


And then they graduated.  Drake accepted an appointment to West Point in New York, and Kayla chose to enroll in Tennessee Tech and play on the softball team.  Separated by 850 miles, Drake and Kayla continued their courtship with late night phone calls, daily texts and emails, and sporadic visits during their college years. They stayed committed to each other and to completing their educations.


One summer night last year, Drake’s family hosted a picnic gathering for family and friends.  Drake asked everyone to bow their heads for grace and right in the middle of the prayer, he said, “Y’all can raise your heads now, in case you haven’t figured out why you’re here.”  And then he dropped to one knee and proposed to Kayla.  The picnic turned into an engagement party.


As the wedding plans were made, Kayla chose Bobby – the man who was Santa and had invited Drake’s and Kayla’s families to play at his farm – to walk her down the aisle.  Although Bobby and Kayla’s mom’s relationship ended years earlier, a special bond between Bobby and Kayla stuck.  Bobby mentored and encouraged her as an athlete, a student, and a young lady.


Now Drake and Kayla have graduated from college and will wed on June 14 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Columbia Tennessee.   Drake’s mother said, “Bobby will walk Kayla down the aisle to give her away to Drake!  He’ll wear a tuxedo, but probably should’ve considered a Santa suit!”


Surely, Bobby will wear his Santa suit for the reception.  And I hope they stage a photo of Drake sitting on Santa’s knee and Kayla, in her beautiful white wedding dress, holding Santa’s hand.

Imagine the questions that Drake and Kayla will be asked later.  Why did Santa come to your wedding?  Is that really Santa?

Yes, for this bride and groom, Bobby is really Santa.



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