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August 7, 2007

Father Knows Best

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Lauren Wilson allowed her father to orchestrate her engagement.

The moment everyone's been waiting for: the first kiss.

Photo Credit: Amanda Marsalis

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At a meeting with Brett in the spring of 2006, Randy raised the issue of displaying affection and how it can lead to sexual temptation. “From what I experience as a guy, the physical aspect of things just opens all kinds of doors for hormones,” Randy told him. “Why open those doors now? It’s a distraction from getting to know Lauren.” Indeed. Lauren would later tell me that during their courtship — which included dinners alone, a skiing excursion, and a seven-day trip to Japan as part of a church missionary group — she and Brett never exchanged a kiss, or even so much as held hands.

Didn’t she wonder what kissing and sex would be like? Lauren and I are spending a winter afternoon at the local salon getting pedicures (I want “Femme Fatale Red”; she wants something softer), and I can’t help but use our time alone to press for more intimate details. “Of course,” she says, “but it was just really hard to imagine, so I tried to focus on other things.”

Did that work?

“Sometimes.”

Did she masturbate?

Lauren suddenly looks like a Barbie doll — amiably expressionless. “I’m not going to answer that,” she says.

“I wouldn’t either,” I say.

“Good,” she says.

What she will say is that her courtship with Brett was emotionally hot. “We talked a lot,” she says. “We asked each other intense questions like ‘What’s the saddest thing that’s ever happened to you?’ and ‘What’s the hardest thing you’ve been through?’”

Seven weeks into their relationship, Brett asked Randy if he could propose to Lauren. Randy said yes. Lauren and Brett become official partners on December 29, 2006, smack in the middle of a whiteout blizzard. I’m invited to the big event, and I’m determined to be there — despite it taking more than an hour to drive eight miles from my hotel to the Mountain Springs Church. Inside, the decor is simple: white candles, white-fabric columns framing the altar, a string quartet playing Bach. About 250 people sit smiling; a serene pregnant woman next to me whispers that at least another 100 can’t make it due to the storm.

At exactly 5:10 p.m., seven trim, tuxedoed groomsmen enter and line up, perfectly spaced, followed by seven bridesmaids in black spaghetti-strapped sheaths, delicately picking their way up the aisle.

And finally, a radiant Lauren emerges in a tight-bodice, low-back, full-skirt gown (think Penélope Cruz in Atelier Versace at the 79th Academy Awards). Randy, who is officiating, takes his place at the altar. In his homily, he praises “the power and the beauty” of Lauren and Brett’s choices. “To walk in purity in your relationship and engagement . . . has brought great honor to the throne of God and to your parents,” he says. “Brett . . . I walked [you] through what Lauren’s heart looked like. We talked of her incredible fragileness and the place that you must occupy for her to continue to grow into the fullness of all that God has created in her.”

Everyone but me is smiling.

Soon enough, it’s time for the inevitable. Randy seems to be stalling. “You know,” he hems, “as soon as I do this next part, I lose all control.” Finally, with tears standing in his eyes, he pronounces his daughter another man’s wife. With that, Brett lifts Lauren’s veil and kisses her. Lauren had told me she was afraid she’d faint when Brett’s lips touched hers. I try to imagine what it would be like to experience my first-ever smooch in front of an audience of hundreds, but Lauren is fine. And her first kiss with Brett makes me teary, too — on the one hand because she looks so happy, on the other because she’ll never know the sublime joy of kissing a beautiful-but-stupid jock, who, in your worst nightmare, you would never, ever marry.


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