It’s wedding season! If you plan to take your kids to a wedding, no worries! With a little planning, you can all have a great time. Let’s talk about kids and weddings: how to be the perfect guest.
The most important part of being the perfect wedding guest if you’re bringing your kids to a wedding is to start with clear expectations. Are children invited to the wedding, or is this strictly an adult occasion? This is the wedding couple’s prerogative.
If the invitation doesn’t make it clear, have a conversation with the bride or groom (or someone close to the wedding planning) and politely ask if they would prefer that their guests arrange for childcare. Some wedding couples love to have babies and little kids at their wedding and reception. Others prefer a more adult occasion to go with those special occasion dresses.
The best-behaved kids are the ones who have their needs for sleep, food, and bathroom breaks met. We have all seen “that kid” have a meltdown in public. Chances are they are tired, hungry, cooped up in a safety seat for too long, or unhappy that the routine they rely on to understand the world has been turned upside down. Don’t expect your littlest ones to understand “only another 30 minutes” when their concept of time is “before or after nap time.”
If they’re in the wedding and there will be pictures, be careful about what foods and drinks they have access to until all formal photos are taken. Get them dressed in their finery at the last moment if possible, and allow only water until the photos are complete. If they do spill, take a breath, and remember that they are kids. Sometimes, we all need to lighten up a bit and just enjoy the wedding.
You can attack stains on those cute dresses for kids with laundry products after you get home. Unless your child is fully potty trained, have an extra outfit with you just in case.
If you bring your kids to a wedding, simplicity will be your friend. Unless they are in the wedding as flower girls or ring bearers, keep their clothes appropriate, but as easy as possible for both them and you. If possible, avoid scratchy fabrics, complicated closures, and unnecessary accessories. Your little one may look adorable with that tiny purse, but it will be one more thing to carry and avoid losing. When you’re thinking about wedding gifts, consider having your gift shipped directly to the couple in advance. It will probably be easier for both them and you.
Simple attire is a great idea for adults, too. Of course, you want to look great at the wedding, but colors that are less likely to show stains and outfits that are easy for walking, bending over, and carrying little ones (and all their stuff) are also key. The more garments that are required for an outfit, the more complex it will feel when caring for kids. A one-piece dress or elegant dress pants and a tunic top will be easier than adding vests, jackets, and hats to your ensemble.
Having several quiet games at your disposal is a godsend at public events with little ones. You can play “I spy”, have them look through a hymnal and add inappropriate but harmless phrases to the end of hymn titles like “with the dog” (just keep giggling to a minimum), or bring a few crayons and a coloring book. Allowing them to bring their own kids’ backpacks with a favorite stuffed animal and a few games is a great idea. If you allow them to have electronic games, just make sure they will be quiet ones.
Mix up the men’s suits and beautiful dresses on the dance floor with the little tykes! There are few things in life as fun as dancing with a four-year-old at a wedding reception. This is a celebration, after all. Get corny and have fun. Little ones love silly songs like the chicken dance or trying out disco moves from ’70s songs.
If possible, congregate with other parents who have little ones. The kids may end up playing together at the reception and keeping themselves safe, and everyone else entertained. This will also give you potential caregiving buddies that will make the event easier and more fun for all of you. Knowing when to call it an evening is key, too. Even if most guests are staying until the wedding couple leave (and perhaps long after that), everyone will understand if you need to leave early with little ones. Be polite and get those tykes to bed.
Enjoy the wedding with the kids!