Weddings are one of the most blissfully sweet occasions most people can imagine, and wedding ceremonies offer a time and place for family members to truly express their love and gratitude for the happy couple. It’s also a bittersweet day, though, if only in the sense that parents must wholeheartedly relinquish their role as No. 1 caretaker in their child’s life, and so the parents of the bride and/or groom are often the biggest source of tears. In the video below, we see a tender moment between father and daughter that quite perfectly displays exactly what I’m talking about.
The bride in this video, Nicole Cortez, works as a sign language interpreter and is not herself deaf. At her wedding reception, she was more than a little caught off guard when her father stood up before the entire crowd and gave the beautiful gift of a performance in sign language.
Cortez’s father had never had any reason to learn sign language previously, so she could barely believe her eyes when her dad started signing the lyrics to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. If you’re unfamiliar with this song, it’s the tear-jerker anthem of fathers-of-daughters everywhere, with the lyrics “From the first breath she breathed/ When she first smiled at me/ I knew the love of a father runs deep/ And I prayed that she’d find you someday/ But it’s still hard to give her away/ I loved her first.” Cortez was completely overcome with joy as her father delivered this beautiful message, and needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
Cortez explained that her father devoted a whole year to making this moment a reality. Cortez’s engagement lasted for just a year, so her father started planning this surprise as soon as she had the ring on her finger! How did he manage to learn sign language in such a short time? Cortez explains in a comment on the YouTube video that he simply took to the Internet — no lessons, no coach, just the determination of a loving father.
It’s impossible not to feel how emotionally charged this moment is for everyone in the room as tears stream down Cortez’s face, eyes locked on her father. He could have easily given his daughter a run-of-the-mill gift, but instead he chose to give her a memory that she could carry with her for the rest of her life — a truly priceless gift.
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