‘I had never seen my dad cry before. He had already seen my dress, that wasn’t it. It is almost unexplainable.’

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“Growing up in a household of two sets of twin brothers, my dad was always protecting me. I was his little girl! He would do anything in the world for me just to make me smile. It’s hard not to fall in love with someone who would give the shirt off his back for just about anyone. My father is the most generous, kind, loving man out there and I’ve always admired how good he is to everyone. We share a very special bond; one of those you don’t have to talk or speak of. You can just feel it – the burning, overwhelming unconditional love, and you know it is mutual. There is nothing more comforting than the love from your dad.

When we first got engaged one of the first things my dad mentioned was when we were going dress shopping. He wanted to go! I explained to him it was something you usually do with your mom and bridesmaids and how it is supposed to be a surprise for him as well. But he insisted! He said he had a vision of how I should look the day I walk down the aisle and he wanted to make sure it was right. So he came dress shopping with me, my mom and 7 other girls… He definitely had the biggest opinion in the room but fell in love with the same dress I did. I could see in his eyes how proud he was. From that moment I knew our wedding day was going to be a tough one for the both of us.

Courtesy of Alexa Gasbarro Fortin

The love our family has for each other is very unique. We grew up in a Greek/Italian home where family was a priority. My brothers are my best friends, most of the time we’d rather spend time with family than with friends, and most of our friends want to spend time with our family! It’s a win, win situation. My mother did an amazing job instilling in us kids that we will always be there for each other no matter what, so we grew up loving hard. My family took Mario (my now husband) in like one of their own; he is like a brother to mine, and another son to my mom and dad. I knew the day I became a Fortin would be hard, very exciting, but very hard. I had always been a Gasbarro. I owned that name, the family that comes with it and the little girl my daddy raised! Luckily enough, Mario had the same situation as I did – a wonderful, loving family who would do just about anything for you and who accepted me as soon as they met me!

My father has always been the one person’s opinion I care about most. Any decision I make, I always call him first. He has always believed in me and given me the support and love I need. The kind of man my dad is had a direct impact on the man I chose to marry. When I was a little girl my dad would put me in the sink and blow-dry my hair every day after I bathed. He would sing and listen to Shania Twain and The Spice Girls with me just because he knew I loved them. He built me a little Corvette so I could keep up with my brothers and their monster trucks. He has always made me feel like the most important girl in the world. I’m lucky to have found a man who is so much like my father. They’re two of a kind, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Courtesy of Alexa Gasbarro Fortin
Courtesy of Alexa Gasbarro Fortin

For our wedding day I wanted to get my dad something very special. Nothing I could think of was good enough. What do you get the man who has everything? So I had a keychain engraved. I figured he would always have it with him to remind him of what he means to me. On the day of our wedding he received a letter and a box from me to open. In the box was the keychain engraved, ‘Dad, you will always be the first man I ever loved.’

Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography

During our first look he held up the keychain in his left hand, I knew he would keep it close to his heart forever. This moment was one of the most nerve wrecking moments in my life! He had already seen my dress, that wasn’t it. It is almost unexplainable; something about that father-daughter bond that we share; we felt the exact same way that day. Filled with so much love.

Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography

I had never seen my dad cry before. As soon as he turned around the emotion came over us both and the tears started flowing uncontrollably. I knew he was anxious about this day but when he turned around and looked at me, the anxiety disappeared, and it was a beautiful moment between father and daughter. I got the most sincere and genuine response from him that I will hold onto forever.

Erika Brooke Photography

As happy tears rolled down my dad’s cheeks I wept in his arms. I was so excited to walk down the aisle with him to marry the man of my dreams.

Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography

As my father walked me down the aisle on the best day of my life, he kept slowly telling me to ‘breathe.’ I knew this was actually a reminder for himself. He was giving away his little girl. I couldn’t help but to flash back at all of our memories growing up in that short 2-minute walk.

Erika Brooke Photography

The time we were in the car on the way to my gymnastics meet when I asked him why the sun was following us, and he told me it was because I was so beautiful it wanted to follow me wherever I went. The times I would sit on his lap when I was little and pretend to drive the boat. When we would spend all Sunday making homemade raviolis. When he would check under my bed and in my closets for ‘the bad guys’ before tucking me in. All of the shoulder rides and movie nights and ice cream dates we had. It all circulated my brain at once.

Courtesy of Alexa Gasbarro Fortin

This was the best moment of my life. I am lucky to have found someone that has so many of my dad’s incredible characteristics. That walk down to the alter will always be one of my fondest memories. Walking proud with the most wonderful father any girl could ever ask for. That’s my Daddy and I will ALWAYS be his little girl!”

Erika Brooke Photography
Erika Brooke Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alexa Gasbarro Fortin of Columbus, Ohio. Did you have an incredibly emotional wedding moment? We’d love to hear your story. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more touching father-daughter moments:

‘How could someone be this loved?’: Stepfather overcome with emotion as stepdaughter, her dad, walk down the aisle

‘An unmarried girl’ shares emotional father-daughter dance with her cancer-ridden dad before it’s too late

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