Toddler Wedding Survival Guide

My flower girls, 2015.

Both of my brothers are getting married this summer. This past weekend was the first of the two weddings my 18 month old daughter attended with the role of a flower girl. She was more of an honorary flower girl because I held her at the altar the entire time (I was a bridesmaid). My daughter has been to three weddings in her 18 months of life and soon to be a flower girl once again in just a few weeks. Here are some tips to help ease your child into being compliant at the happiest day of the newlyweds lives.

  1. Make your child have a NAP if at all possible. I know as the child gets older, it can be harder and harder to ensure they squeeze in that nap before an important event. Let’s face it: the more important the upcoming event, the more they resist the nap and torture the parents am I right? My daughter is one of those children who needs a nap during the day in order to function later in the evening. Make the sleep space as familiar and inviting as you possibly can. If they use a sleepsack at home, bring it. Use sheets from home if you’re borrowing a playpen so they have the comforting scent of Home on them. Bring a sound machine if your child uses one – any comfort items really. Your goal is to make them feel secure, which will help them sleep better. The best time I found for a nap was just before the wedding ceremony if it starts at 3 pm or later, or if the wedding is earlier and there is a big gap before dinner, try to squeeze in a power nap then! My daughter was 9 months old at one of my friend’s weddings and she was getting married in my hometown, so during cocktail hour I went to my parents and put my daughter down for an hour before dinner was served. She lasted until 9 pm! If your child flat out refuses to sleep, read below.
  2. Prepare to walk a lot. The thing that kept my daughter happy was walking and exploring. I trailed after her during speeches, the first dance, during dinner – but this kept her happy and content. My parents were in no condition to help, and my daughter didn’t want my husband so I got my exercise that night. Traveling around the room and seeing new people, decorations and scenery will help keep a child distracted, and allow you to listen to a 1/3 of the best man’s speech.
  3. Bring toys and distractions. Because my daughter, husband and I were part of the wedding party, I didn’t bring many toys because I thought we would be too busy. Rookie mistake. Bring new and intriguing items to captivate their attention. The bride provided us with a mess free marker pad, but this only worked for a short amount of time. The real winning items were a set of three disposable cups from one of the kitchen stack that we could stack and knock down, and a blown up rubber glove with a sharpie smile. Lifesaver!
  4. Enlist in help if possible. If you need a break, tag the father of the child, aunts and uncles, grandparents or close family friends. Sometimes the child will be so enthralled by the new people that you can sneak off to the bar and down a glass of wine during your ten minutes of paradise. Maybe take a minute to say congratulations to the bride and groom? Just a thought!
  5. Food, glorious food. Weddings are normally filled with food. There’s food at cocktail hour, during dinner, dessert tables, late night snacks – toddlers can be food motivated and food distracted. Trapping them in a high chair with a plate full of food will be heaven for the both of you and it gives you time to enjoy the music and write in the guest book. This will also be a great opportunity for your toddler to try something new! If they don’t like it it doesn’t cost you anything!
  6. If at all possible, hire a sitter. It will be worth it. Go out and enjoy your evening!

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