This may be controversial but, I don’t like children at weddings. In my mind, christenings are for children and weddings are for adults. Weddings involve a lot of hanging around, listening to grown ups and having to be quiet – not a recipe for fun in most children’s worlds. When we got married we asked everyone to leave their kids at home – there were a few raised eyebrows but the vast majority of parents were delighted to have the chance to spend a whole day (and night) child-free. Since we have had kids we have always left them at home when we’ve been to weddings, even if they have been invited – kinder to them, kinder to us and kinder to the bride and groom (who can have our full attention).
So having said all that why have we just returned from our first wedding as a family? Well, my cousin was getting married in Wales and invited us all along. We aren’t a close family geographically so the chance for us all to get together for one day seemed too good an opportunity to miss. There would also be children involved in the wedding party so we wouldn’t be the only ones dragging out little ones with us. Once I’d told the kids we might be going there was no turning back – they were so excited so off we went for a 10 hour round trip in the car for a great family celebration. The wedding was lovely and having the kids there wasn’t too bad so for anyone else planning on taking the plunge here’s what I learned about young children at weddings:
Wearing your best clothes doesn’t stop you wanting to roll down hills. The wedding was in the club house at the fabulous Celtic Manor Resort. A mass of rolling hills onto a Ryder Cup golf course. A perfect attraction for kids who see grass stains and mud streaks as a badge of honour.
You can’t make your kids look smart if they don’t want to. A little girl sat behind us in the ceremony refused to wear her pretty hairband for the service or the photos. Once the formalities were over, she grabbed the offending article from her mum stuck it on her head and refused to remove it until bedtime! Typical….
It’s hard to keep children quiet during the ceremony. To be fair mine were really good (we had a big chat about it beforehand so they knew they had to keep stum) but I was at a wedding once when a little lad piped up “Who’s that monster?!” when the bride walked in – not the reaction she was after
Disposable cameras are a great distraction on the tables but don’t expect too many high quality shots. Once mine had figured which way round to hold it, how to roll it on and dealt with the fact they couldn’t instantly see the shots they’d taken, the camera on our table was full in seconds.
You’ll need a smart mummy bag (or rucksack) – for previous weddings I have invested in a little clutch bag, something sparkly and impractical that just about fits my bank card and lipstick. Not this time, I needed something big enough to fit in changes of clothes for the four year old (the potty training saga continues), the whole range of Jake and the Neverland Pirates characters, a pen and paper for the artistic seven year old, snacks, a water bottle, cardigans and their massive Vtech cameras! A bin bag would have done but in the end I managed to find something that looked slightly more attractive, that was big enough for all their stuff and my lippy!
Favours are a great snack – wedding breakfasts are always served at odd times. You wouldn’t normally sit down to a three course meal at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and most guests miss lunch and are starving by the time the food arrives. I made sure the kids had massive breakfasts so they wouldn’t whine too much about their stomachs but the moment we sat down to eat they wanted feeding. Whilst we were waiting for the bread rolls to come round, they spied the favours – personalised M&Ms with little pictures of the gorgeous bride and groom printed on them. My kids didn’t notice the pictures, or the pretty organza bags. All they saw were sweets – within 2 minutes every bag on the table had been devoured! They were definitely enjoyed but maybe not appreciated in the way that had been intended.
Kids can bond over anything. During the speeches (which were funny but longer than an episode of Hey Duggie so lost on the kids), my two went outside to play. Before long they were playing hide and seek with some of the other kids from the wedding, sharing toy cars and picking daisies. They kept each other entertained and had a great time whilst the grown-ups could concentrate on the important bit.
The disco will keep them entertained – once the lights flashed and the DJ started, all the kids were happy. They took over the dance floor not letting anyone over the age of 12 get a look in. The only bad thing was just as mummy and daddy were finding their mojo and busting some moves (?!) the little ones hit a wall and we had to head off to bed – having your style cramped by a seven year old hurts!
When I asked both of mine what the best bit of their first wedding experience was the answer was a resounding “staying in a hotel” – the two nights in a Premier Inn was the highlight for them which kind of reinforces my theory that the romance, fun and gravitas of a wedding is lost on anyone under the age of 15.