(Chuck Muth) – Surprises are fun. But not if someone lets the cat out of the bag and ruins it. As our friend and longtime political strategist Roger Stone wrote in his book Stone’s Rules, “Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Well, my daughter Kristen – who many of you have met over the years – decided that after being engaged for four years she was getting married yesterday. Only…
She didn’t tell the groom!
Austin thought he was going to someone else’s wedding yesterday morning out at Calico Basin near Red Rock Canyon.
More than three people were in on it – including me, Gia, Jenna and CJ, along with Austin’s parents and sisters. And a few others. How we kept such a big secret secret is a minor miracle.
But Kristen pulled it off.
I only found out right before leaving for 10 days to attend the Campaign Leadership College (CLC) in DC a couple weeks ago. Missed out on wedding gown shopping, but they “Face Timed” me into the final selection last Sunday night before I left CLC.
Don’t tell anybody, but I got a little choked up.
Got home on Monday and Kristen came over to the house to discuss final arrangements. She was thinking of having a pot-luck picnic reception following the ceremony at a local park.
No way, Jose. Not for something like this.
So I called my friend Sue Lowden and asked if we could do a reception at her family’s new restaurant, Vic’s, in downtown Las Vegas. Sunday lunches aren’t usually busy and Sue let us use the dining room.
CJ and I needed new suits. So on Tuesday we went to the Dillard’s at the Galeria Mall in Henderson. An absolutely terrific sales associate, Mark Manisco from Chicago, set us up perfectly.
GQ all the way, baby!
On Wednesday I flew up to Reno to speak to the Mt. Rose Republican Women. Had lunch with former First Lady Dema Guinn and her sister-in-law, Shirley Blair. Then checked into my hotel.
About 15 minutes before Chuck and Melissa Clement were going to pick me up for the dinner, Kristen shot me a text…
“Will we be able to have a father/daughter and first dance. Can I control the music? Haha.”
I immediately hopped on Google to search for popular father/daughter dances and came across one of my favorite songs – immortalized in the movie “Dirty Dancing” – “Time of My Life” by Bill Medley.
I’ve indeed had the time of my life with Kristen since bringing this bundle of joy home 23 years ago…
Anyway, I pulled up the “nobody puts baby in a corner” scene from the movie on YouTube – and started balling my eyes out (don’t tell anyone!).
Pulled myself together and had a great evening with some great folks at the dinner. And, at great risk of ruining the surprise, shared my good news with the crowd – who kept the secret and didn’t share it on social media. Thanks, everybody!
Flew back to Vegas on Thursday.
Picked up the suits from the tailor on Friday before attending a fundraising reception that night with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Met Kristen at David’s Bridal first thing Saturday morning to pick up the gown and do the final fitting.
Then stopped off at Hash House-a-Go-Go for a daddy-daughter breakfast before going shoe shopping.
We talked about what music to play as she walked down the “aisle” – a boardwalk leading to a wooden platform deck in the middle of a meadow. She went with the entrance music used by The Undertaker in WWE wrestling matches.
Yep, she’s her father’s daughter!
After dropping her off, there was still one BIG unanswered question…
What if Austin got spooked and refused to go through with the ceremony once he found out just minutes before?
So I stopped off at the local sporting goods store and bought Jenna and CJ a pair of Red Ryder BB guns that looked close enough to being actual shotguns.
And the wedding deck in the meadow had “rattlesnake” warning signs posted.
So the boy wasn’t going anywhere! 😊
The ceremony was scheduled for 8:00 a.m., so we got up at o’dark thirty. Dummy me, I forgot to try on the pants after picking them up from the tailor. Too short! High-waters. So I had to wear a different pair of pants that, fortunately, looked close enough to the suit coat.
Thought we were all set to go. But as we pulled out of the driveway Jenna asked if someone had put the wedding gown in the car.
Um, we’d forgotten. Small detail. But thanks to Jenna, tragedy was averted.
Austin’s parents and sisters left before he and Kristen under some ruse and met us at Calico Basin. We parked our cars in a remote section of the parking lot so Austin wouldn’t see and recognize them.
Everyone else took the hike up the trail to where the ceremony would be held. I hung back and hid in the car until Kristen and Austin arrived.
When they did, the wedding planner – who was *supposed* to be the wedding planner for the friend who was *supposed* to be getting married – walked Austin up to the wedding stage while Kristen snuck into my car and changed into her wedding gown.
So we missed seeing the look on Austin’s face when he arrived at the wedding deck, saw his family and mine, and realized he’d been set up!
He kiddingly tried to run once he realized what was going on – someone caught it on video – but ended up being a great sport about it.
Shortly thereafter, I walked my first-born down the boardwalk aisle.
Other than being pretty chilly and windy, the ceremony of “giving away” my daughter was perfect.
She married a great guy and into a great family who we’ve all known for years.
Alas, no day is perfect.
When the ceremony was over, we went back to our cars while the newlyweds did wedding photos with the photographer – only to find that some jackass had slashed one of our tires while we were at the ceremony.
Well, it turned out we didn’t have a lug wrench in the back. And since there was no cell service in the park, Austin’s dad drove me back into town so I could call AAA.
It all worked out though. While I was gone, a good Samaritan with same type of car lent his lug wrench and got everyone back on the road in time to make it to the reception at Vic’s at 11:30 a.m.
The Lowden family couldn’t have been nicer. And our waitress, AJ, was fantastic. They arranged for a champagne toast, a cake-cutting (cake designed by Jenna), and that father-daughter dance.
Although no one but immediate family was able to attend the ceremony, we invited a couple dozen close family and friends to join us for the reception – again at the risk of blowing the secret.
But everyone kept radio silent. No loose lips sank this ship. And a good time was had by all – especially the unsuspecting groom.
Indeed, no party is complete without a little fun and frivolity provided by our friend Bill Laub…
I got the newlyweds a suite at Signature Towers behind the MGM since they had originally planned to spend their honeymoon night at Austin’s parents’ house. Kristen texted last night that it was beautiful.
As for you, Austin…
We taught our daughter to always choose the best. She’s done so, and now we have you. Marriage has made you family, but love has made you our son. We’re glad you came into our lives.
Now go wash the damn dishes!
OK, enough of this boring personal stuff. But for anyone wishing to extend their congratulations to Kristen and Austin, her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now back to saving the republic!
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.