Wedding Survival With Kids In Tow

The dapper G’s

Our family is still happily reeling from the whirlwind wedding weekend of my husband’s brother and his new bride.  It was beautiful, breathtaking, tear-filled, and so very special.  We had a fantastic time.  Going into it, though, I have to admit I had my doubts.  How were we supposed to achieve all of us being in the wedding, satisfying a lot of people’s expectations, while still having fun and keeping our sanity?  It seemed a feat almost impossible.  Yet as the dust settles, I can contentedly sit back and appreciate that we were able to survive with our wits about us, authentic smiles on our faces, and true joy in our hearts.  Most importantly, the kids had a magical time and reveled in sharing in their uncle and new aunt’s big day. The memories we have from the weekend will remain highlighted in all of our minds for many years to come.

Here are some thoughts I have as I reflect on the successes (and failures) of the weekend:

Success #1: We gave ourselves time.  One of the smartest things we did was try on the little boys’ tuxes many days before the wedding.  We sent my father-in-law on a special mission to pick them up as soon as they arrived. (The shop was over an hour away!)  Later that afternoon, the boys tried them on and we learned that our oldest has an unusually large neck and short arms, my middle boy has sprouted inches since his last measurement, and our youngest has really long legs.  Because we were ahead of schedule, we were able to call the bridal shop and get all new clothes ordered for them.  Can you imagine the scene at the hotel had we waited until the last minute to try them on?  I don’t even want to think about it.  We would have all been miserable and the boys would have looked ridiculous!

Failure #1: Always be sure of time schedules.  To allow ourselves more time to get ready for the rehearsal on Friday, we arrived at the hotel at 2:30pm, 2 hours in advance of the rehearsal.  We imagined all of us getting settled in our rooms while leisurely getting dressed.  Unfortunate snafu–the hotel didn’t allow check-in until 4pm!  By the time we got into our rooms, the rehearsal had started and we were making a mad dash to get ready.  Had we looked ahead to check-in times, we could have requested an early check-in and avoided some drama.

Success #2: We gave ourselves space and plenty of it.  Knowing we were bringing all seven of us to the event, we planned ahead in the budget to allow extra money to cover extra hotel rooms.  For all of our sanity, it was essential that the baby napped and that children slept well at night by being in comfortable beds.  Thus, we sprang for a small suite with an additional room attached.  We had a comfortable center common room where everyone could hang out and two extra rooms off the center room, each with a pair of double beds.  GG and I slept with the baby in one (she could also nap there privately) and the other 4 kids shared beds in the other room.  We also had two bathrooms.  It was perfect and allowed for all of us to breathe easier.  Comfort is key when stressors are high!!!

Success #3: We gave ourselves the gift of help.  From the beginning stages of planning, GG and I knew we couldn’t do this alone.  We’d either have to hire a babysitter or call in parent reinforcements.  We went with the latter and my awesome parents drove in for the wedding, hanging with the kids for the early part of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner before whisking them away to bed.  On the wedding day, they dressed them and drove them to the church while GG and I fulfilled our best man and bridesmaid jobs, respectively.   Later that night, they hung with them in the kids’ room during the reception and made sure there was plenty of outside play and inside entertainment while the adults enjoyed dinner.  When the music kicked in, we then all had fun on the dance floor.  It was wonderful and allowed our family lots of “spaces in our togetherness”.  Though I’m sure my parents walked away pretty tired!

Success #4: We gave ourselves contingencies. The second failure of the weekend was actually that the flower girl (our 3yo) decided last-minute that she wasn’t going to walk down the aisle with just her big brother.  Fortunately, our contingency plan was to have the two of them walk down the aisle with me.  When we saw plan A was not going as planned, we all jumped to plan B and everything looked as if we planned it that way all along.  Perfect!

Success #5: We took a deep breath and enjoyed ourselves.  Usually with weddings, everything seems to work out just fine as long as everyone breathes and remains calm.  We achieved this (for the most part) and the resulting success allowed everyone to relax and have fun.  I will never forget the look of love on my brother-in-law’s face as he danced with his new wife or the look on my children’s faces as they watched the couple cut the cake.  The weekend was an event of dazzling experiences–ones that I’m so glad we were all able to share together.

  • Mary Alice

    Thank you for this. We have a family wedding coming up soon, and I was getting ready to skimp on the rooms and the help, but I think that we would really regret it in the long run. I am now going to look in to a hotel room for Friday night after the rehearsal, instead of a 2 hour drive home, and perhaps a babysitter who we can bring along.

    At our last family wedding, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the sitter situation, so I spent a lot of time shuttling my kids around and missed most of the reception.

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com/ Kellie

    I think bringing help that you are comfortable with is the key to success for a family wedding. Our dear J’ came to my sister’s wedding to help me with our baby and it was the only thing that got us through! Having the in-laws help is ideal, but sometimes that isn’t possible.

  • Maggie

    Great advice! Most brides, even ones that want to be accommodating, have no idea what it’s like bringing kids to a wedding. When I got married, I cheerfully told everyone that kids were welcome, and then expected them to stay up until 11 pm for the reception! The best wedding I attended with my kids was a 9am ceremony and brunch reception. We even made it home in time for naps!

  • Shannon D’J

    Thanks for sharing, Bethany! I’m so impressed with your planning! Glad you all could be there for CG’s nuptials. I’m sure it meant so much to the bride and groom. Congrats to all!

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    What a beautiful family!!!

  • Kat0427

    These are great thoughts, Bethany! We have had some very fun wedding experiences as a family, and have used these strategies as well. The only regret that I have is that my youngest is not in any of the wedding photos from my sister’s wedding – we thought it best if she skipped the ceremony and took her regularly scheduled nap instead (she was 1 1/2 at the time). However, I hadn’t thought about the fact that she would miss all of the great family pictures!

  • Cynthia Grillo

    Love this! My husband and I are in my brother-in-law’s wedding on Sat, and both my daughters (5 and 7) are flower girls. Thank you for sharing!


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