How to Survive a Wedding with a Toddler

I am now a veteran of two weddings at which I have been at least semi-responsible for a small person and I’m able to begin compiling a survival guide for anyone who has yet to experience the unique pleasure of trying to entertain a child whilst also attempting to catch the eye of the man weaving through the throng with a tray of canapés.

Here’s the sum total of everything I’ve learnt. It won’t take long.

Ask for a Transcript of the Speeches

Although the assembled adults are bound to be glued to the speeches, even if it’s just because they have a quid in the sweepstake on how long they’ll go on for, kids just can’t concentrate on slightly lewd gags about the bride’s mother for too long, so you are bound to miss crucial points from the addresses from the father of the bride, groom, bride, best man and anyone else who gets in on the act.

During my brother’s wedding reception the other week, his touching and tender tribute to our elderly and infirm grandad who was too ill to travel was only slightly disrupted by two-year-old Elsa whispering into my ear, “Daddy, I need a poo.” The joys of potty training mean I missed large chunks of all the speeches, so I’m intending to get the main players to  send their notes over for me to enjoy at my own convenience. NB: Pun fully intended.

Tip for couples marrying in the future: if you want to keep children entertained throughout the speeches at your wedding, you should consider making Justin from CBeebies your best man – he could read A Brief History of Time from cover to cover and still hold the attention of everyone in the audience under 10 for the entirety. Obviously he’d have to throw a few knob gags in for tradition’s sake. Just don’t ask him to provide the music.

Elsa at a wedding

Scope out a Mark

Any good con trick needs a ‘mark’, an easy victim, and there is no con trick more devious than palming off an over-excited and energetic toddler who just wants to run around a reception venue on some unsuspecting sap.

In order to pick the perfect patsy, you have to indulge your child for a while, coursing around the dancefloor close behind them, throwing them up and down whilst giving scant regard to the fact they’ve just eaten a three course meal and blowing raspberries on their tummy as the DJ bashes out Come on Eileen or some other traditional wedding disco anthem. All the while you need to look out for adoring smiles or amused glances from other attendees.

These are the people who you might be able to persuade to take your place and run around a hot room for hours in tight fitting wedding clothes. They probably still think it is ‘cute’ and looks ‘fun’. Let them take over and escape to the bar, they’ll find out the truth after half an hour.

Plan for More Costume Changes than Beyonce

This was a lesson learnt before we even arrived at the first wedding we took Elsa to. Making good time, we were cruising down the M6 in good spirits right up until she decided to revisit her breakfast all over the interior of the car. I can now say I’ve visited Lymm, if only to thoroughly wet wipe a toddler and vehicle upholstery in the car park of a nursing home – the first building we came to after a swift exit from the motorway.

Thankfully she wasn’t in her pretty wedding dress at the time, which I guess is common sense. Children are like black holes, sucking towards them with unstoppable force anything that can leave a stain upon their togs. As such, they should be placed into their wedding attire at the last possible moment, ideally at the same time as the bridal party draws up outside the venue. Of course, the first mucky mark will have appeared by the time the bride has reached the front, but when it comes to dirt and kids it’s always damage limitation rather than prevention, the latter being a pipe dream.

Whereas traditionally brides had their wedding dress and a separate ‘going away’ outfit on their big day, any toddler attending a wedding needs different ensembles for pre-wedding, the ceremony, that bit where you make small talk during the photos, the meal, the speeches and the disco, with at least one spare change of clothes for each.

Click the link to read more about the first wedding experience, which descended even further into the worst kind of farce. We can (sort of) laugh now.

Have you got any more to add ahead of this summer’s wedding season? Let’s help each other out – leave your tips in the Comments section.

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