His friend couldn’t fly in from California because of work obligations, so he turned to the man who has been there for every other important life moment up until that point: his 74-year-old grandfather.
It was a no-brainer for the 26-year-old groom, who looks at his grandpa, Harvey “Al” Akerman, as a father figure and friend.
“Whenever I’ve had an issue, I’ve always gone to my grandpa because he’s the best I’ve got,” Jacob said.
Jacob didn’t know his father, and he and his mother lived with her parents until he was about 6 or 7 years old. His grandfather was there to witness not only his birth, but major moments in his life growing up.
The family camped together often, and Al taught Jacob how to hunt and fish. He taught him everything from tying his shoelaces to cleaning a shotgun, Jacob added.
Now, Jacob and his new bride, Maria, will visit his grandma and grandpa to play cards with them often.
“It means a lot, and it’s hard not to tear up just talking about it, because he means a lot to me,” Jacob said. “I don’t know how it feels to be close to your father, but I imagine it has to be something like this — maybe more so, because he chose to fill the role.”
While Jacob has two younger brothers who are 10 and 8 years old, both of whom were ringbearers for the Sept. 30, 2021 wedding, Jacob knows that he formed a unique bond with Al, who is a retired oral surgeon and owner of Dakota Hardscape Supply, that grandchildren don’t typically see.
“It was like having another child, really, for my wife and me,” Al said. “I thought we were pretty lucky to have that with him, and that we had the chance to be part of his life.”
While most grandparents would sit and enjoy the ceremony, Al took part in all the best man activities: dancing to the reception introduction music, giving a best man’s speech and being the “really cute old man in all the photos.”
Al shared his thoughts in his best man speech about how Jacob has grown into a kind man, and how happy he was for Maria to join their family.
“We’d been married 52 years, and I said I hope they’re as happy as we are for 52 years, too,” Al said, adding that the secret to a happy, long marriage is getting “picked by the right woman — and I think Jacob did.”
This was Al’s first time being a best man in a wedding.
“I think it’s my one shot as best man,” Al said. “I hope I did OK.”