I hope this “learn from my mistakes” post gets to you before your toddler is in a wedding this season.
See, I thought I was prepared to have both of my daughters act as flower girls in a friend’s wedding recently. But unfortunately, well … there were several things that could have gone smoother.
If your daughter or son is asked to be a part of a wedding, make sure you (at least) have these important things figured out ahead of time:
1. A space to wait before the ceremony.
It sounds simple enough but it’s not something everyone considers. At the wedding venue we were at, the designated space for us was the bridal suite. However, with ten bridesmaids, multiple hot curling irons, and champagne glasses spread out high and low, it was impossible. We went outside, but outside was a golf course and the girls took off running, and running, and running, and running … I almost hijacked a golf cart to get us back up to the wedding area.
2. A handler/helper for each toddler in the wedding.
Not only were both of my 2-year-olds in the wedding, but I was also the officiant. Our babysitter came to help, but in reality, I needed two. You know how it goes, one kid ran one way and the other the opposite way. I was sweating bullets by the time the ceremony started. Although I wore flats and changed into heels at the last minute, I still tripped on my hem several times. My hair was full of grass and completely pulled out of its updo. I didn’t even have a chance to go to the bathroom in the four hours before the wedding.
Never be in a wedding and responsible for a toddler who is also in the wedding simultaneously.
3. A designated person from the wedding party to get them down the aisle.
The bride had fair warning that my daughters weren’t going to cooperate with their duties of walking down the aisle and sprinkling flower petals with a bit of civility. She was very zen about it so I tried to be the same. However, when the time came for me to separate from my girls so that they could walk with the bridal party, I had no one to hand them over to. I called out for volunteers but received a lot of panicked stares. I wish I would have gotten more clarity ahead of time as to who was going to unleash them down the aisle at game time.
4. A zippered tote bag and a secure place to access it.
I brought a diaper bag but I couldn’t figure out where to put it. I set it down in the bridal suite but the photographer picked it right back up and handed it to me. I must have set it down and picked it up 100 times while chasing after the girls. The one time I left it alone for ten minutes for pictures, I came back and all of our snacks had been taken out (probably by another child). I should have at least brought a bag with a zipper.
You’d think I’d know by now that I need to pack a load of snacks for my girls but once they were taken (see #4), I was in trouble. There wasn’t even a vending machine in sight. The venue had a restaurant but it was closed (even though I had called ahead and was assured it would be open). The wedding ceremony went right through their dinner time and they were champs until the end when they saw someone else with food. I have to admit the stress of the day, combined with my first experience of hungry toddlers and no immediate access to food, made me cry. Pack snacks in your bag, the car, the kids’ bags, everywhere. Ditto for water, as finding water was a whole other issue!
What about you, do you have any advice for managing toddlers during a wedding?