My husband and I just celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. But we’ve been together for… *doing sums right now*… I think, erm, coming up to 14 years?!
That’s how it is nowadays, isn’t it? We get together at uni or sometime thereabouts, have a few wild years where we basically drink, spend, holiday and, drink (oh, and work a bit too). Then we get bored of the selfish, indulgent but quite fun life, and decide to have kids.
We talked about getting married, but the kids just came first. (I secretly would’ve preferred that – sshhhh!). Then, finally, he got around to proposing. It was on top of a small hill in the Lake District in pouring rain. I accepted (obvs). We celebrated by taking shelter by a wall and eating a soggy sausage roll. When we got home from the Lakes,
we I started planning…
So here is what we actually did: we got married in Umbria, Italy, with about 30-odd guests, just immediate family and very close friends – and our kids too. It was held in a big, old Palazzo that we rented, and family stayed there for a week, with friends in the apartments next door. Needless to say, we had an amazing time, but I have never, ever been so exhausted. I learned a few things, so I would like to pass them on here, to all the mums who are thinking of getting hitched – or have already got plans underway…
See, when you have kids, especially if they are really young still, there are some things you need to take into consideration. We did some things well, and others not so well.
- Think about what you both really want from the day. If it is to be very relaxed and with no responsibilities at all, then that’s OK. Don’t feel guilty if you are thinking of getting wed without your children being there. Similarly, if you do want them there but want to keep it really small, just do it. This is one time in your life when you should just please yourself. And this is especially important if the bride and groom are parents, as they deserve a little time to themselves.
- Think about other people’s children. I know your kids are amazing, and other people’s children can be quite annoying, but it’s not really OK to have a kid free wedding if yours are going to be there. Plus, other children mean yours will have playmates at the party afterwards. Not many of our friends have kids, but those that do brought them along. You will have to help them decide what they will do with regard to childcare – and help them facilitate whatever they want to do. Some of our friends just went for it and the kids stayed up really late. Others struggled with theirs and had to leave early. We weren’t mad or disappointed – and you should support what your friends need to do with their kids if they decide to bring them.
- Consider how the children will play a role, if at all. If they are old enough, you may want your child to be involved in the ceremony, as a flower girl or ring bearer perhaps. If they are to have roles, consider the likelihood of them not playing ball on the day. Thank God my son didn’t have a role, as he had a huge meltdown about getting dressed (do give someone else the responsibility of getting the kids dressed, you will be too busy), and missed the whole ceremony, as he passed out with exhaustion just before the ceremony started! If they are very tiny, likewise they may need feeding or pacifying by a relative during key moments, so just be prepared for them to not even be in the room at those all important times.
- What will you wear? Will you be wearing a headpiece that your 9 month old will keep pulling off? My birdcage veil (see below) detached to prevent this from being a problem, leaving just the lace sidepiece. Are your earrings just begging to be ripped out by a curious toddler? It’s worth thinking about how your outfits might be affected by them.
- What will they wear? Don’t you dare go spending loads of money on clothes that they will A) refuse to put on B) then proceed to get filthy and C) never wear again. The high street does perfectly good, cheap and smart trousers (we chose light chino style trousers for our then 3 year old that he could wear again) and nice shirts (again, a light denim style spotty shirt in the sale, he wore it loads afterwards). Our then 9 month old wore a pretty dress that she never wore again. Ours were both barefoot most of the day so don’t waste money on posh shoes. (See pics below of what both kids wore).
- Who will look after them? Listen, you and hubby are going to want to dance, drink, dance some more, drink a lot more – until really late. You need a person per child (or two people, sharing) dedicated to looking after each one. In our case it was my Mum (see pic below) who looked after my 9 month old. And my Dad looked after my son, but he was kind of OK just running around. Still, they were responsible for taking them to bed, toilet everything. Think about where they are going to sleep, ideally not in your room! And also who will get up and see to them the next day. Not you! It’s just one day – take some time off.
- What will they eat? We chose food that we knew most people would like, not just for the kids. But if they are going to be there then you need to either factor them into the main meal, or not. Ours loved the different courses of pasta, meat and then the cake of course. Again, entrust someone else to feed them if they need feeding, to make sure they have eaten enough during the day, and drunk enough too. Do not even consider feeding a young toddler yourself with an expensive white dress on. In fact, it’s a good idea to completely strip them off if the weather allows (see picture of my daughter below on the wedding day, stripped off, being fed very saucy pasta by my son!)
- Try not to drink like a fish. The excitement, the stress, the nerves, the music, the food – it’s easy to get totally trollied. I did (no pictures of that, thankfully!), and boy did I regret that the next day. I felt so awful, and still had a house load of people to entertain. Don’t get me wrong, everyone else felt rough too. But if I had my time again, I’d try (I’d probably fail) to drink less. Also, I felt I had to see to the kids. And we all know kids and hangovers is the worst combination of all time.
- Make sure you get lots of non-posed pictures of the kids. Hands down, the best pictures of our kids on the wedding day were taken when they were just mucking about. Ask a kid to pose in a big group for a crucial shot and prepare to be disappointed – I could post about 10 pics where the kids just aren’t conforming, but here is one instead of them larking about.
- Consider not taking them on honeymoon. Before you all think me a cruel and heartless women, I want you to hear me out! We did the ‘right thing’, and took our kids on honeymoon with us. Now, after a very hectic week of entertaining, which culminated in a huge wedding party, the only thing we were fit for was The Priory, but a nice peaceful holiday would’ve done. Instead we went off on our honeymoon to stay in a beautiful little cottage on an estate in stunning Tuscany (straight out of the pages of Elle Decor, but completely un-child-friendly, lots of pointy edges, stone steps and dangerously delicate glassware). Did they appreciate it? Did they b*ll*cks! They proceeded to keep me up all night, teething and being generally pesky. The blighters! Didn’t they know it was our honeymoon! Well, no they didn’t. It was stupid to take them, in hindsight we should have handed them over to grandparents to take back to the UK, and had a shorter but more enjoyable and restful time. We had a great time, don’t misunderstand me, but maybe we should’ve used the opportunity to have had a short romantic holiday for 2 rather than a long family holiday for 4. This pic shows our first meal out on honeymoon. It was enjoyable, but not very romantic as you can imagine! I was SO TIRED!
I don’t want to sound like it was a regret taking them with us to get married and then on honeymoon. Of course, we had an amazing time – and they were very much a part of it. No regrets at all. But with the benefit of hindsight, I would recommend other couples put themselves first a bit more than we did, and have some precious time alone, particularly after the wedding. Don’t be afraid to do what you really want to, after all, as a parent you very rarely get the chance to do that, and this is supposed to be the best day of your life (apart from having your baby/ies of course).