This is an honest and realistic guide of what to expect if you’re taking a child under two to a wedding.
If you’ve been invited to a wedding, and so has your child, chances are they actually want them there, or they don’t have kids themselves and have no idea of what the fallout will be.
How they behave at a special event like this, is purely how they behave the rest of the time. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a toddler that would sit quietly and patiently throughout the service and speeches? Well yes it would be, if said toddler was like that at home.
It our case, this was not applicable.
If your toddler is cheeky, active, with a tendency to be naughty on the verge of you having a breakdown, then this is what will happen at a wedding. Don’t think for one second they will appreciate the enormity of the occasion, as they will probably use the silence to practice their vocal skills (echoey rooms are hilarious for them, and will only increase their vocal volume).
I had read a few survival guides for weddings, and they made it sound idyllic. However, I wanted to put together my own, as the chances are, the results will probably be like mine.
1. Take the pushchair – ok, this is an obvious one, and you will find it on any other list. It is handy if you need to walk any distance, or at least have a seat to put them in. They are also useful to store any additional crap in the bottom. It is great if your child likes to stay in their pushchair – but mine doesn’t. Take it anyway, you never know, they might actually stay in it at some point.
2. Food – take plenty of snacks that are easily accessible (no crinkly wrappers), and have the ability to cause as little mess as possible. You may think that fruit is a good idea, but not if it’s gooey and has a tendency to stick to things (such as someone’s hair). Take your own cutlery and plates, as ‘adult’ utensils are very noisy, especially during the speeches.
3. Toys – again, take things that create as little noise as possible. I took our tablet and already had some children’s apps downloaded onto it. Don’t feel bad about using technology to distract your child – it is a godsend. Crayons are also good, but as long as they don’t tend to chew them. Potentially, attach bungee cords to any toys; you will get sick of picking the bloody things up, trust me.
4. Plan an escape route – during the ceremony, make sure to sit at the back in the aisle seat. Scope out your escape route before the ceremony starts, you don’t want to be tripping over looking for the exit. If your child is fidgety like mine, chances are, you are going to have to leave the ceremony at some point. So, best to expect this beforehand.
5. Change of clothes (possibly two) – you have no idea how important this is, and is probably the best thing I took with me. If they have been in a suit etc. all day, take something comfy to change into for the evening. Lenny decided to have a rice pudding fight with himself during the speech, which was hilarious and mortifying in equal measures (and trust me when I say it was everywhere). A change of clothes was an absolute life saver. I don’t like wearing formal wear, and could quite happily have changed into my leggings. The same will apply to your child, they will appreciate it.
6. Other people – don’t expect other people to be quite so gracious and understanding of your child (this is especially true when other children there are very quiet and behaving themselves). I found some people at the wedding were a bit ‘stuck up’, and didn’t appreciate that a 20 month old does not want to sit still. I will not apologise for him being a child, and if people have a problem with this, then just ignore it.
7. Take it as it comes – because there is no way you’re going to be able to predict what happens. Plan for the worst, and that is what will happen. You know your child better than anyone, and you will know what you need to do in any situation. Don’t expect them to be perfect, it’s never going to happen. Kids are loud, messy, entertaining and thrive on other people’s attention and will attract it however they see possible.
It really is as simple as that. But if you get the offer of someone looking after your child whilst you attend the wedding, don’t feel bad about accepting it. If you know your child isn’t going to sit still or keep quiet, let them stay somewhere familiar where they are free to be themselves. They won’t miss the occasion, and probably don’t understand what’s going on anyway.
If the worst does happen, like a rice pudding fight, chances are the bride and groom will find it equally hilarious as everyone else, and will be glad that the child enjoyed themselves.
Just remember to take a tonne of baby wipes; you’re seriously going to need those.