Happily received a shed of wedding invitations this season, but aware that you will bring a little plus and are not quite sure how to orient yourself? Here, Georgie Lane-Godfrey, Georgie Lane-Godfrey, Content and Acting Features Editor at Women’s Health, shares her key tips from being there, having it done.
Top offenders on the list of undesirable wedding guests: the perverted old uncle, the pushy mother-in-law and … the screaming baby.
Because while the little ones look super cute in wedding shots, their presence on the big day isn’t exactly stress-free. For parents, it’s the conundrum of how to take their baby with them with minimum fuss and maximum enjoyment. For the bride-to-be, it’s like making sure their younger guests don’t detract from their big day (read: crying during vows, pulling down carefully prepared decorations, throwing up on your dresses, etc.).
So, here are eight simple steps I learned by taking the kids to our partner’s weddings. Think of it as your cheat sheet to keep everyone happy, bride and baby included. You’re welcome.
How to take your baby to a wedding,
1. Check the invitation
It might seem obvious, but if your child isn’t specifically mentioned on the invitation, they may not be welcome. Check the details to see if babies can be accommodated, and if it’s still unclear, text the couple – it might be embarrassing, but it’s better than the drama that comes with swinging with a baby who is NFI.
2. Come prepared
We’re talking about diapers, changing tables, bottles, snacks, toys – everything you’d get if you were to go on a long-haul flight. Wedding venues tend not to be the most kid-friendly, so don’t count on changing tables and microwaves on offer. This is cold, pre-prepared food for victory.
3. Set the menu
Although the happy couple may take small people’s dietary needs into consideration, they will likely have enough on their plate. So unless your baby is happy to eat the usual fancy dinner, be sure to bring your own food for him to keep him happy. Don’t forget bowls, spoons and bibs too.
4. Know that timing is everything
The younger the child, the less likely there is a routine to consider. But if you’ve set your nap time, ask one of the wedding parties to send you the times for the day in advance. This way you can see exactly when you might be able to take a break from the festivities to feed / change / send the baby to sleep.
5. Have fun your wheelchair
If you plan to keep your baby with you after bedtime, you will need a comfortable cot-like set-up. Typically, changing them into pajamas after a meal, putting them in the pram, and carrying them around until they fall asleep is the most effective game plan. So, make sure you have their comforter, comfy blanket, and a large muslin or Snooze lampshade to block out the light and help them sleep. Headphones are also useful if you want to block out beats in the background.
6. Ask for help if possible
The best way to enjoy a wedding with a child? Have a friend or family member who are not guests together to help. The best weddings we attended with our baby were the ones where we had the grandparents on hand to babysit in the background all day. To make it work, they stayed nearby and brought her to the place whenever we needed to breastfeed – all I had to do was run out and provide breast on demand. Of course, having such help is a privileged situation to be in, but don’t be afraid to ask people for help: you will be surprised how many will want to help.
7. Having an escape route
The most wonderfully irritating thing about parenting? Even the best plans can fail. We all have days off, including children, so make sure you have an easy way out if and when the time comes. Find a quiet place where you can disappear during the day when needed, don’t depend on taxis to leave and always check for a signal before the event.
8. Be considerate
This works both ways. If you are getting married, please appreciate the tremendous effort it takes to bring a baby to your wedding. If you are bringing your child, remember: this is someone else’s big day that has often taken months, if not years, of planning. The focus should be on them. So, keep the crying babies out of earshot during the ceremony and speeches, and keep the babies away from the important things. Wedding cakes spill easily, after all …
And what about “only girls in your arms?”
Many invitations will tell you that girls in her arms are the only babies allowed, but what that actually means is up for debate. There is no definite age limit, so check with the couple, but a general rule? Once babies are fully weaned, they usually don’t count.
Brides: Remember that babies won’t necessarily bottle up, so don’t assume that breastfeeding moms can just pump out the milk and leave their little one behind. Basically, if it’s important to have your friend there on your big day and he’s breastfeeding, assume mom and baby arrive as a package.