Inside: thinking of bringing your toddler to a wedding? These essential tips will help make your life easier the day of.
So you’ve been invited to a wedding.
And you have a toddler.
And the wedding is kid-friendly.
And you’ve RSVP’d: YES.
Now what? Definitely don’t panic. Friends, it can be done. Trust me when I say, it can (and should) be done. We weren’t the first and we most certainly won’t be the last couple to bring a toddler to a wedding. Not only is it a great experience for your toddler, it’s also truly a fun experience as a little family.
While everyone’s situation is totally different, and you may be thinking “bring my toddler, WHY?” – my advice would be this: If you have the option to spend a night alone with your spouse enjoying yourself, I’d say go for it.
However, I realize that everyone may not have the option (or want to) leave their child behind. In our case, my husband was the Best Man in a wedding in California. At the time, we had a 21 month old and lived on the opposite coast. I was not about to travel across the country and leave my baby, so to the wedding we went, toddler and all.
While I always like to be as (over) prepared as possible, this was one of those things where I really didn’t know what to expect when bringing my toddler to a wedding.
- Would my toddler be upset from the loud music?
- Scared of all the new people?
- Cranky and overtired toward the end?
- Could I even get her to nap in the hotel beforehand?
For parents of toddlers, these are legitimate concerns. Toddlers are fickle creatures in that sometimes they love to listen, and other times they love to be difficult. Add to that a loud event full of strangers and you’ve got yourself one stressful situation.
However, by making a few simple preparations and following some basic guidelines, you can ensure you have a great time at the wedding, toddler included.
3 Life-Changing Tips for Taking a Toddler to a Wedding
1. Paint the Picture
For about a week leading up to our trip for the wedding, I would describe to my 20 month old what we were going to be doing at the wedding.
I would say simple things like “In a couple days we’re all going to a fun party where we’re going to dance like this” or “Harper is going to wear this pretty dress (holds up dress) to the big party.” You can of course customize these statements based on your toddler’s age and level of understanding.
I would periodically show her the outfit she was going to be wearing and her new sparkly shoes. It didn’t take long for her to catch on and when she would see the dress she’d say: “pretty, party, fun.”
By painting a visual image of what it will be like to attend a wedding, you’re essentially helping your toddler construct their own little world view.
Remember that pretty much everything they experience is for the first time, so they have no prior memories to pull from. Sometimes this can make toddlers apprehensive or scared. By preparing them ahead of time (whether it’s for their first plane ride, first day of preschool, or first trip to Disney), you can help them make connections between what you’ve taught them and what they’re experiencing.
Bonus Tip: If your toddler is in the wedding as a flower girl or ring bearer, it can be very helpful to show them a video ahead of time (either your own wedding video or just find one on YouTube). After watching the video, have them practice at home!
2. Know Before You Go
At this particular wedding my husband was the Best Man, so we were lucky to be able to visit the Ceremony/Reception site the day before for the rehearsal.
All kids are different, and you may not feel this is necessary, but I really felt that visiting the wedding venue the day before definitely worked in our favor.
Our toddler tends to get nervous about new places (most toddlers do!) so when we arrived the next day for the wedding and everything was already familiar to her, she felt comfortable walking around and was excited to see some familiar things.
This can also be useful for older toddlers who are potty training, so they can see where the bathrooms are ahead of time. Again, I am an over-planner by nature.
3. Protect Naptime at all Costs
My child is the type of toddler that cannot function without a good afternoon nap. Skipping naps is simply not an option for her.
Our circumstances were a little different for this wedding because my husband was the Best Man, so needless to say, he absolutely had to be on time and arrive early for pictures.
Since I knew ahead of time that my little girl would not nap in a strange place and doesn’t always get a full nap when riding in the car, we just drove separately so my husband could be there on time, and Harper could get her afternoon nap at the hotel. Like I said, whatever it takes. Even if I had to drive on the California Freeway in a rental car by myself, that toddler was going to nap.
Although we ended up being a little late, it was SO worth it because when we arrived she was well-rested, in a good mood, and ready to party for the next couple of hours.
If the wedding is in a hotel, it’s helpful to book a room at that hotel, so when your toddler is tired or the party becomes too loud, one designated parent can take them upstairs to go to sleep.
Bonus Tip: Ask a bridesmaid or the wedding coordinator if you can stow your diaper bag in the bridal suite/dressing room. The last thing you need is a giant bag or backpack to lug around when you’re all dressed up!