Home Real Life Guest Blog: Getting Married with a Toddler in Tow!

Guest Blog: Getting Married with a Toddler in Tow!

by Lucy Hope

This is a very exciting post for us as a lovely guest blogger, Katie Hodgkins, has shared her top tips for keeping a toddler entertained on your big day!

It’s likely that you’ll have your own child joining you on your wedding day and you’ll want them to be as happy as you will be.

Read all of Katie’s top tips here…

It’s 2020, and it’s safe to say that when it comes to getting married in this day and age, a good percentage of couples tying the knot have already started a family – how very modern!

Toby and I got together in 2013 after having known each other for at least 10 years prior, we became engaged 18 months later, and just as we seemed to be naturally progressing towards moving out of his parent’s house and starting to tentatively plan our wedding… Surprise! I was unexpectedly pregnant despite being told I’d struggle to conceive naturally. We were absolutely overjoyed, and our future nuptials were put on the backburner.

As a lot of you can probably relate to, when you become a parent, your priorities change drastically! 

Our wedding was still very much a future plan, but we had no idea when we’d even be able to afford to book anything – it didn’t matter too much to us, though, as we knew that we’d get there in the end.

In 2018, Toby’s beloved grandmother very sadly passed away and it turned out that she had left us an incredibly generous sum – enough to buy our own home, and… BOOK OUR WEDDING!

Toby’s lovely gran was one of the most supportive figures in his life, and she’d always told us how thrilled she was that we’d found each other, and how much she looked forward to our wedding.

It broke our hearts that she wouldn’t be there, but in her honour, we decided to finally get our heads down and finally, at long last, tie the knot the week before our 6th anniversary.

Our biggest hurdle to overcome, we found during the planning process, was managing Max.

  • Who would we rely on to keep an eye on him?
  • What should we bring with us to keep him happy?
  • How could we get him involved to make him more a part of the day?
  • Where would he sleep on our wedding night?

(The one thing we didn’t consider was what if he became poorly 24 hours before our wedding date – I’ll touch on this too, as it’s an important lesson to impart on others…)

Who would help us to keep an eye on him?

You (hopefully) only ever get married once; it’s a momentous occasion, and you’ll usually find that the people in your life will be more than forthcoming when it comes to keeping an eye out for your child.

Wedding and reception venues usually tend to be fairly self-contained in that they’re private hire and not open to the public, which makes life easier but you still need to make sure they’re 100% safe.

We found that asking our family and friends before the day and developing a ‘village’ agreement worked wonders.

We all very easily kept an eye on each other’s children, enough that Toby and I could enjoy our day and not have to constantly keep Max out of mischief.

If you’re really worried, you can actually hire nannies and childcare services for weddings!

We didn’t have the budget for this, as we wanted to keep costs down, but it was something we looked into. Don’t be afraid to ask people you trust at the wedding, as you’ll be surprised to see how helpful people will be.

What should we pack to keep Max happy?

Let’s be honest here… A wedding ceremony isn’t somewhere where a toddler really wants to be, is it?

They’ll probably want to explore, chatter, and generally be adorable but in the middle of your vows, this may be distracting, hence the importance of distraction techniques! We packed the following ‘Kiddy Kit’ to cover all bases;

  • Tablet
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Spare clothes
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of juice
  • Calpol and Nurofen
  • Nappies and wipes

In the end, Max wasn’t in attendance during the ceremony as he was full of a horrible virus.

My lovely uncle kept him company in the bar area with the tablet and some toys whilst mummy and daddy took their vows.

Either way, our ‘Kiddy Kit’ kept Max really calm and happy and meant that he was kept happy during the wedding breakfast, in between cuddles!

How could we get him involved in the wedding?

Our wedding day was OUR special day but we felt that giving Max his very own role would add to the beauty of our day and add to the cherished memories we’d be making! We decided to give him the role of ring bearer, but as it turns out, he wasn’t feeling up to being in the ceremony room, so Toby’s best man took this role. We were sad that this didn’t go to plan but we’d encourage parents to give their children some special role in the big day to make them feel even more important, and help them to create their own fond memories! You could make them a…

  • Bridesmaid
  • Flower Girl
  • Page Boy
  • Usher
  • Ring Bearer
  • Best Man or Maid of Honour is quite popular for older children and teens who are very close to their parents

Where would he sleep on our wedding night?

Wedding night sleeping arrangements can be a contentious topic – some people, quite correctly, point out that your parental obligations don’t just vanish for one night JUST because it’s your wedding night and that it’s cheeky to expect someone else to have them overnight.

Absolutely… but again, you only get married ONCE (hopefully), and the people in your life will want you to have the best day of your lives, including your wedding night.

If you have a best friend, a parent, a grandparent, in fact, any responsible adult adored by your child and whom you’d trust, don’t be afraid to put feelers out there with a diplomatic message along the lines of… ‘I totally understand if it’s a no and don’t feel pressured to, but I’d really appreciate it if…’. Another technique I’ve seen is people actually adding ‘have our child for our wedding night’ to their wedding gift list/registry!

In the end, my parents booked a family suite at our venue and Max slept on the pull-out bed.

Either way, even if your child does need to sleep in the bridal suite on your wedding night, you can have your ‘moment’ at another time, it’s not the end of the world.

What if he became poorly?

And finally, the one factor that in retrospect, we really ought to have explored before the actual day…

What if your child just happens to fall ill the day before or on the day of your wedding?

Fate can have a seriously sick of humour – for us, sod’s law dictated that Max came down with a nasty virus the day before our wedding.

He wasn’t poorly enough to need urgent medical attention or a hospital admittance so we felt safe proceeding with the wedding as planned, and luckily my parents were very happy to take responsibility for him during the day too, but imagine if we weren’t so fortunate!

He spent most of the day relaxing with his tablet on the sofas in our private bar, so he wasn’t spreading his germs around, and was generally quite happy.

Take it from us, this is a really valuable lesson that could save your bacon if the same happens to you – plan for all eventualities, child sickness included!

 Ask your wedding insurance provider in advance to find out if they can cover potential cancellations due to this, and try to create a ‘Plan B’ with trusted adults to make life a little easier.

In the end, getting married with a toddler in tow wasn’t all that stressful.

I imagine it would have been even less stressful had Max not been unwell, but I think that a combination of us being preemptive in care arrangements, and our family & friends being so wonderful, meant that our wedding day went so smoothly and was a day filled with joy that we could share with our son, family and friends.

Take these three simple tips away from my experience and hopefully, your day will be as wonderful!

  • Prepare for ALL eventualities!
  • If your child loves it, bring it to the wedding!
  • Don’t catastrophise – if something does go awry, people will be there for you to help (just make sure you don’t take them for granted though)!

Have a wonderful wedding day, mummies & daddies! Love from Katie, Toby & Max.

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