We have attended three weddings this year with our children, two of them have involved a few nights away in a hotel. As much as I love a good wedding, attending them with your children is an entirely different experience to attending them in my life before children.
There are debates raging on mumsnet as we speak about whether it is okay to have a ‘no children’ policy at a wedding, without being really offensive to parents? Likewise is it really offensive to the bride and groom if parents can’t get sitters so cannot attend the child free wedding? Personally I think it’s up to the bride and groom. And if I get that invite that says ‘no children’, I’ll be cracking open the prosecco before anyone can say “I do”. And here’s why…
So you’ve spent every Saturday for the last two months shopping for a dress, the prefect shoes and bag to match. You’ve bought new make-up and booked in for a cut and colour and to have your nails done.
Ahhhh the memories. That was when I had ‘me’ time, and the only time I had company when I peed, was on drunken nights out with my best friend. Attending a wedding with children means the planning is writing a list of things to take. The list resembles a dissertation in length, and you have to figure out how it will actually fit in the car. New make-up – You’ll be lucky if there’s room to take a mascara!
You arrive the night before the wedding chill in your room for a bit, enjoy a nice dinner, then start the party early at the bar. That sounds very foot loose and fancy free.
Try this scenario instead. You arrive having developed a nervous twitch from the constant “Are we nearly there yet?” coming from the back seat. It takes two hours to unpack your house from the car and the whole time you are thinking ‘I’ve got to pack it all again the day after tomorrow’. You know the kids need to be in bed on time in preparation for the big day, and as you are all in the same room this means you too will be going to bed at 7 O’clock. This will however totally backfire when the children keep popping up from their beds every two minutes to ask “what are you doing Mummy?” and their early night turns into a very late one.
Lounging around in fluffy toweling robes, sipping wine and spending a couple of hours on your hair and make up.
No chance. More like a two-minute shower and hair and make-up done in under 20 minutes, all the while trying to explain to your child why they weren’t at your wedding (impossible task), and stopping your baby from crawling under he sofa bed. And who needs a new handbag when everything fits in your change-bag. It’s exactly the glamorous look you were going for, right?
Tissues at the ready, admiring the bride’s beautiful dress. Holding hands with your husband and exchanging loving glances as you remember your own special day.
Replace that with glances that convey sheer terror. This is the perfect time for your little angels to turn to the dark side. At least in a church wedding it’s the ideal place to pray for good behavior and to let it be over quickly! Don’t dare take your eyes off the kids for a second to look at the bride’s dress, because that’s when your baby will grab the pony-tail of the old lady in front and pull! (Luckily the old lady in this case was his Great Grandma, and she didn’t mind too much. At least not the first time.) Be prepared for anything. I may (totally have) have experienced all of the following scenarios:
- Tears as soon as the bride enters the room, not the normal wedding tears of happiness, but full on tantrum mode, snotty, blubbering tears.
- Marginally better is the “Is it nearly finished, I’m bored, I don’t like weddings anymore, can we go home”, repeated loudly for at least 20 minutes.
- The best case scenario is that they fall asleep, you risk offending the bride and groom, but snoring is way better than the other two options.
I once observed a parent giving their child a massive lollipop during a wedding ceremony. Part of me thought about the sugar crash that would follow, the other part thought that this was a genius bit of parenting on how to keep your kid quiet. Unfortunately for me when I tried it, my kid inhaled the lollipop before the bride had walked down the aisle. The next time, I used the lollipop as bait with the tried and tested method of parenting; bribery.
A chance to drink champagne, mingle with guests and pose for photos.
More like wrestle your child back into their waistcoat, (it is the universal law that children can only stay smart for 5 minutes) and stop them drinking the gallon of orange juice that is being offered to them. Bride and Grooms out there take note, 5-year-old boys cannot stand still and smile at the same time. If you want them to be happy in your photos expect to see a super hero pose. Please also note they will always throw the confetti on the count of ten, regardless of the fact everyone else did it on three.
The Wedding Breakfast
Free alcohol. Woo-hoo. The party has started. Free flowing wine, good food, enjoyable conversation.
Does apologising to the stranger seated opposite the food flinging baby counts as conversation? The wedding breakfast is when your patience is tested to the limit and tag team parenting is a must. Demands for lemonade and eating all the wedding favours will be given into in order to keep the peace. And no amount of paper and pens is going to keep a 5-year-old sat at a table for 2 hours. What is so fascinating about being under a table?
The Evening Bit
Get drunk, dance and sing loudly.
No. If you have made it this far and are not sitting alone in the corner and rocking, the end is in sight. The baby is asleep in the buggy (after much pacing and ‘helpful’ wedding guests poking and saying “who’s a tired baby?” as you are trying to get them to sleep). The 5-year-old is chasing disco lights and doing his best Travolta moves. And you now have a window of time. Probably only about thirty minutes until the 5-year-old wants to go to bed, but it’s a window. A chance for you and your partner to breathe a sigh of relief, to finally exchange those loving glances and remember your special day, and to bask in the compliments of how well-behaved your children were.
If you see those parents at this moment in time at a wedding, If you recognise the frazzled look, please buy them a drink, because they have earned it, and at this point in time really need it.
Even royal weddings can be a bit boring when you’re little!
Thank-you to the lovely bride and grooms whose weddings we have attended this year. My little family do make me proud. And grey. Thank-you also to the couple who’s wedding we are attending in October with a ‘no children’ policy. I bloody love you.
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