TO KID OR NOT TO KID,
THAT IS THE QUESTION
By Jessie Walsdorf, Jessie Belle Ceremonies
So let's talk about that great dividing topic of kids at weddings. First off, it’s your day and no one else's, so whatever decision you choose to make for your day is the right one and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I can tell you now from a parent’s perspective, anytime I get invited to a wedding where the couple kindly asks that I leave my little rugrats at home, I’m on the phone to the grandparents to lock in those babysitting duties so mum and dad can let their hair down and dance the night away! Bring. It. On.
But what if you’re one of these rule breakers of ‘tradition’ (you’re my kinda peeps!) and have chosen to start a family first? You’ve finally gotten past the point of zero sleep and baby- brain fog and you want to start planning your dream wedding? Now it’s all about figuring out how to find that perfect balance between involving your children in your special day but also making it a beautiful occasion for you both. Well, here are some great ways to make sure your day runs smoothly for everyone involved and after you’ve read this, you will discover you can have your cake and eat it too… without little fingers getting in there first!
Have you ever wondered why kids are often perfectly fine and happy all day and as soon as they hit the top of the aisle they have an absolute meltdown? There are a few reasons for this: one being exhaustion and over excitement, and two; being overwhelmed with an unexpected and unfamiliar situation they suddenly find themselves in.
If you think about it, a wedding day is a huge day for us as adults so imagine all the build up and excitement for your little ones. Running around and lapping up the attention, seeing their parents all dressed up, putting on their own outfit and being told not to climb that tree or drink that chocolate milkshake for fear of getting one speck of dirt on them so mum and dad can please, please, please just have one nice photo with the whole family!
In the lead up to your wedding day, be sure to have a conversation with your children about how the whole day is going to go from start to finish so that they know what to expect. We often forget how much our children absorb and understand and this will help them to be prepared and ask any questions they may have. While you’re getting ready on the day, why not organise someone not involved in the getting ready process (not Grandma!) to take your little ones out for the morning and keep them rested so they can have enough energy to make it down the aisle in style. Or if you would like them there with you as you get ready, have a minder on hand to free you up from attending to the nappy changes and the snacks.
The time has arrived for you to be joining your partner at the other end of the aisle and you will soon be married and everything will be perfect and lovely and will go off without a hitch, right?! I’m here to remind you my friends, that you have children and they don’t quite understand perfection. So shake off any preconceived ideas about your ceremony and just go with whatever happens, because at the end of the day, kids are kids and we should embrace that! Thankfully though, there are some ways in which you can ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
First up, if one parent is at the arbour waiting in excited anticipation of seeing their kids and partner walk in, chuck some lollipops in their hand so that the kids head straight for the sweets and into the arms of the waiting parent. So simple, yet so effective! And like before, be sure to have a family member on hand (again, Grandma!) to be on child duty to stop them doing cartwheels during your emotional vows (this happens more often than you think it would and if I could still do cartwheels without pulling a hammy, I’d probably join them!) or to step away with them if they begin to get upset. Even if the plan is for your children to sit perfectly in their seats for the entire ceremony, they will most likely end up running to you because after all, their two favourite people in the entire world are up there and they want to be right up there with you! I am all for you scooping them up in your arms and continuing on with the gorgeous ceremony. Then once they’ve settled down, your nominated minder can come up and bring them back to their seats. You may even like to set up a little rug on the ground in the front row and give the kids some colouring to do! And of course, as parents we know the most effective way of keeping children quiet is in one magical word, snacks! Pack the snacks, shove them in their gobs and Bob’s your uncle! If you have super little bubs you can even just have them carried down the aisle and a minder can whisk them away so you can both relax (before the next feed of course…).
INVOLVING YOUR CHILDREN
There are so many lovely ways for your children to be involved in the ceremony so ask your celebrant to suggest different ideas depending on your children’s age and confidence levels. They may like to say a poem or you can ask your children some questions on love which your celebrant can put into a reading (at my last wedding, three year old Ivy told me love was like a unicorn!), they can bring up the rings or you can give your children a keepsake gift each as you exchange rings. You may even like to bring a mock marriage certificate for you all to sign or make your children say “I do” to cleaning their room and eating their vegetables! The most important thing is to make your ceremony your own and enjoy every moment as, like everyone says, it goes so quickly on the day.
It’s the end of the day and here’s where the celebration is all about the two of you as partners in life, and more than just the title of Mum and Dad. So get those family snaps with the kids, give them all the cuddles and then send them on their merry way with a babysitter so you can kick off those heels and hit the dancefloor (with a champagne!). And no, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s one night and your kids will be asleep before they even get home. You deserve to be celebrated because this whole parenting thing is a hard gig and you have just married the one that will be there by your side every step of the way, so soak it up. You’ve got this! Now go have the best wedding day ever!