12 Jul 2015

Married with children...

I love weddings. I love those of friends and family. I love a soap wedding. Heck, I've even been known to get a bit emotionally involved with a royal wedding. We have never been to a wedding with Dexter, never mind with him and the latest tiny addition to Team Wayne.

Just putting it out there, but I believe weddings are parties for grown-ups. They are a stamina test for the most hardened social animal, without the added pressure of remaining responsible for the minors in your care. Our own wedding, almost six years ago, was a deliberately child-free occasion. Aside from those smalls closely linked to the bridal party and a couple of babies, our invitations explicitly stated that children were not invited. Soz. At the time, it caused some small controversy and upset but on the day, most child-free parents seemed to party the hardest and let their parental hair down the most.

Fast forward a few years and we're of an age at which most of our friends are already wed and/or have populated the world with their offspring. Weddings now seem to be a more infrequent, relaxed and family-friendly affair. And so we found ourselves yesterday, heading to the wedding of some dear friends (themselves parents of two girls) at which children were very much welcome. 

Cue this blog post: my own views and opinions on attending a wedding with a four year old and eight week old in tow...

Do allow yourself at least four hours before your estimated leaving time to get everyone ready. Delphi woke up at 5.45am for her morning feed. I stayed up and we were still running about half an hour behind schedule when we finally left the house. The situation was perhaps not helped by going to bed at midnight the day before after chewing the fat, with a very dear old friend who had come to visit, over a couple of glasses of wine and some pre-emptive Nurofen. Also, I didn't pack anything or get anything ready the evening before and it pays to be organised.

Don't over-pack. I ended up packing two enormous shoppers with pretty much everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. I took FIVE outfits for Delphi STILL ON THE HANGERS. Who even am I? She wore the same outfit she left the house in, all day.

Do make room in afore mentioned bags for snacks and favourite toys.

Don't expect that said snacks and toys will have magical distraction powers indefinitely. Dexter had devoured two 'snacky boxes' by the time we got to the reception venue and his latest train acquisition (a model 'Mallard' - thank you, Laura) wasn't quite enough entertainment for the whole ceremony.

Do be prepared to miss key parts of the day. In our case, Mr W had usher duties during the ceremony. The exchange of vows was precisely the moment that Delphi chose to wake up for her lunch time feed and the moment Dexter finally figured out that we weren't in a cinema, there was no screen and classical music is both 'boring' and 'hurt' his ears. The three of us spent the actual weddingy bit hovering outside the ceremony room while I desperately tried to convince Dexter that the nearby disabled loo did not in fact contain a hated hand dryer. Dexter needed some assistance having a poo during the best man's speech. Sorry, Mike.

Where's the screen, Mummy?

'A BUS, Mummy! A BUS!'

Don't feel defeated if the ceremony appears to be a portent suggesting that smalls will struggle with all aspects of a wedding: Dexter had an absolute whale of a time! The sun shone all day. The venue was largely outdoors and STUNNING. The whole vibe was relaxed but with attention paid to every detail. Dexter found absolute joy in everything from the arrival of the majority of guests on a vintage London bus (excitement levels were quite high for this one) to the easy-listening/jazz session which was our soundtrack to the afternoon.

'I like the band, Daddy. I like jazz.'

Do have something that babies can be comfortably transported around in and can nap in. It was absolutely worth taking Delphi's pram to ensure she was able to sleep and we didn't have to carry her everywhere.

Don't refuse offers of help, especially from those who have chosen to attend the day without their own children. Delphi was cuddled, given a bottle and rocked to sleep by various friends so everyone got to enjoy their food and chat without distractions. 

Do expect that if you dress your young baby in blue, several people will ask how old he is and what his name is.

'Ah, isn't he cute!'

Don't get carried away with the booze. I was driving anyway and Mr W was relatively restrained. I was really conscious that at least one of us needed to keep our wits about us. The stunning venue had a picturesque but potentially worrying lake. I did NOT want to factor 'jumping into water to rescue drowning child' into the day. I'm crap at swimming and I'd eaten enough canapes to sink a battleship.

The well-stocked bar

Do accept that your child is likely to consume all manner of food and drink that would not usually be a part of their everyday diet. Dexter mainly chose to take a slightly 'peasant' approach to the delicious gourmet barbecue tea, only eating bread and potatoes: a wedding is not the time to be worried about your offspring's balanced diet. I deliberately gave him some 'special, brown, fizzy juice' to keep him up beyond his bedtime. Still awaiting that award for parent of the year...

'Mummy, I'm having a naughty drink!'

Don't dress like you would if you were going to an event without children. I wore flat sandals, a long dress that was pretty much a glamorous t-shirt and a cardigan as I'm always cold but knew we'd be outdoors all day. From about 9am that morning, I'd fully intended to apply some lipstick to 'finish' my look; I never got round to it.

Ditch the heels

Do take it all in and soak it all up. The wedding venue was just brilliant. The children played outside all day. 

Picture perfect

Don't forget to ask someone to take a family photo of you and yours in your finest attire. Ideally, don't leave this moment until you're chomping on your pudding, sitting on the floor and generally looking a bit sweaty/clammy/grubby.

Sweaty family portrait

Do embrace the entertainment thoughtfully provided for the junior guests.

Don't be alarmed when all your child really wants to do is leap around on a log, brandishing a stick as a lightsaber/gun/generic weapon: it's all good old-fashioned fun.

Giant Connect 4: stick out of shot.

Do remain calm when the stick/lightsaber 'game' gets out of hand and you're trying to get to the bottom of whether your child's stick has made actual contact with another child or if the other child did indeed fall off a log*

*Poor little dot fell. Dexter emerged blameless. Phew!

Calm blue skies

Don't be afraid to sneak off to the film room set up for the children to have a power nap and an ice cream while the band are taking a break.

Tired snuggles with Mummy

Do take pjs/sleepsuits, dressing gowns and comforters for children. Dexter lasted until 11pm, fell asleep in the car and transitioned to his bed at midnight. He slept until 10am this morning with a sort of four year old's hangover. He's devoured two large bowls of cereal and a roast dinner today.

Making shapes in his pjs

Don't expect to last as long as your pre-children days. I was exhausted by 11pm and have felt broken all day. We did however, have the most magical day and we loved being a part of it! Congratulations and thank you so much to the happy couple.

A day filled with love

I've got three more weddings to attend this year: two evening receptions on my own and a child-free wedding involving two nights away. Lucky us: the best of all worlds!

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