For a dad who married off his youngest daughter three months ago, and come October, will give his middle daughter away, Carl Wise is surprisingly calm. And even with the possibility of his first-born soon wearing a sparkly gem on her ring finger as well, Carl Wise is keeping his cool.
With his sporty “Bride’s Father” T-shirt tucked into his pinstriped pants, Wise is surrounded by his three daughters. When he turns around, “Two Down, One To Go,” is visible on the back of his shirt, along with the two wedding dates: March 3, 2011, and Oct. 15, 2011. The idea belongs to his oldest daughter, Courtney.
“We had no idea a T-shirt would cause this emotion,” Courtney Wise said. “We started this tradition with Whitney’s wedding — we made shirts for the bridesmaids, our mom and decided dad needed one, too. For Erika’s wedding, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny to put this on the back and give our friends and family a chuckle?’ We gave the shirt to dad, not thinking he would really wear it, but he was too excited. He put it right on.”
Whitney Wise Verdoni remembers her family piling into the car for her first wedding dress-shopping outing, when her dad caught the women working in the shop completely off guard by actively showing interest in his daughter’s dress choices and offering his opinion.
Although there were no winners that round or the next, Carl Wise was pleased to spend time in additional dress shops while in Orlando. Finally, Wise Verdoni did find “the dress,” but with her two sisters unable to make the trip, the family returned a second time — and again a third when the dress arrived a few months later — which was also the first of three fittings.
“He was the driver several times,” Wise Verdoni said. “We’d all have mimosas, then he’d escort us off to the next dress shop, with a trip to Starbucks in between. I think the fact that he has three girls makes it perfect for him to go shopping with us.”
Because the family had shopped until they dropped so many times at this particular bridal outfitter, they knew the staff well.
“It should have been the last fitting, and we should have taken the dress home that day, but I just remember Dad dropping to the floor and showing the seamstress, ‘This needs to be shortened this much,’ said Erika Wise. “We all knew, not only is he here being a part of this, but he’s actually getting involved in the details.”
But dress shopping was not Carl Wise’s only pastime. He started landscaping the house one year in advance of the first wedding, making it picture-perfect by pressure washing, painting and rebuilding cabinets. He also has learned how to scope out the best chair in the department store. He’s even been the shopping advocate when it’s come to the girls purchasing their first house, which they’ve done in the same order as getting married — youngest to oldest — and he’s been the master negotiator during the entire wedding planning process.
“That’s what’s unique about our family,” Courtney Wise said. “When there’s something special going on, we’re all involved. It’s a little unusual to have Dad involved in our dress fittings, but he wanted to be there, and that’s just a reflection of our entire life. He’s always been at any major event and any events leading up to it.”
As he listens to his daughters talk about what a fabulous father he is when it comes to absolutely everything, Carl Wise has something to say.
“Two weddings in one year — no big deal,” Carl Wise says. “My threat to these guys is when they have children, they’ll all be boys. With all this femininity, it’s got to happen.”
“The first half of our lives, mom was a stay-at-home mom, but when she started the company (Take Care Private Duty Home Health Care), the roles reversed, and Dad became ‘Mister Mom.’ If there were field trips, he was the one. He took us to school every morning, picked us up in the afternoon and made us lunch all the way through high school.
Erika L. Wise
“I just remember right after I graduated from UF in 2004, I had an internship opportunity in New York City. I was 21 and had two weeks to find a place to live. Any time you call Dad with news, he’s off the wall, screaming with excitement. He flew up with me in the middle of winter, and we went from Craigslist listing to listing. After our eight-hour adventure of going from one sketchy apartment to the next, we knew we needed a better system — we found a real estate broker.”
Whitney Wise Verdoni
“Dad and I have always had a lot of hanging out, and we had sports in common. He was one of the dads on my softball team and would be there every practice, every game. He helped catch pop flies and would throw this and that. On the weekends, we’d go fishing. I remember my 21st birthday present was a set of tools. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. We always shared the mechanical, outdoorsy stuff — fixing this, tinkering with that.”
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].