‘First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage…’

 

 I don’t know why it surprised me, but four of the first six weddings that I wrote wedding reports for had their children at their wedding. It was my first real clue that the traditional processes of raising a family don’t necessarily have the baby in the carriage as the final piece of the puzzle.

My own parents got married when they discovered that my mum was six months pregnant with my brother. 30 years and untold heartbreak later, we now all realise that this may not have been the best choice for them, despite my grandparents’ fervent belief that it was the ‘right’ thing to do.


Children-at-weddings

Image Credit: Kitchener Photography
See the wedding in full here

In this instalment of observations, I would therefore like to salute the people who work out whether having children together really does mean that they should be together before they take a trip down the aisle.

Now, the more observant readers out there will know that both Annabel and Franky had their beautiful children first and their weddings second, so in a way they are perhaps more qualified to tackle this topic than I, the baby-phobe, who didn’t have any children at her wedding, let alone ones that had come from our own loins.

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Image Credit: Kitchener Photography
See the wedding in full here

Nonetheless, my adventures on the matrimonial frontline have really taught me a thing or two about the traditional schedule for major life events. There are of course no right or wrong answers in this particular discussion and every situation is different. Whilst one of my best friends has stoically refused to entertain the thought of child-rearing until her boyfriend of seven years put a ring on it, one of our other friends was happy to fall pregnant and then get engaged and married before the baby had been born.

But as my parents’ situation has continually taught me, life doesn’t always work out like you think it’s going to. Go to university, get a job, find a boy, get a good credit score, get engaged, buy a house, get married, get promoted, have offspring…whereas this might be a linear path to some, for others it’s more of a mix ‘n’ match. The cards fall where they’re dealt and you have to make the most of it.

Whether through accident or design, marriage is not necessarily the main priority in many modern relationships. Some might say that working out whether you can live together and raise children is both test and expense enough without throwing in the extra consideration of planning a wedding to the mix. Others would say that having a child together is the ultimate commitment you can make anyway, and that a piece of paper and a ring is not nearly as symbolic of their union as the physical embodiment of their love that is their child.

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Image Credit: Nikole Ramsay
See the wedding in full here

As an entirely impartial observer, what I see from weddings where the bride and groom already have children is a very poignant celebration as a family. It’s not just about acclaiming a beautiful bride in a dress and a nervous groom waiting for her, but about cementing and solidifying an unshakable family unit. Many a storm has already been weathered by the time they reach the altar and you can bet your booty that the ‘for better, for worse’ part of their vows has probably already been thoroughly tested.

There’s also something a little bit magical about seeing a child watch their parents publicly vow to spend their lives trying to make each other happy and protect their family. Even the smallest of faces becomes mesmerised when they hear their mummy and daddy addressing each other with strange sounding formalities; even if they won’t remember it in years to come there is definitely a poignancy in having your children witness your vows.

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Image Credit: Natalie J Watts
See the wedding in full here

For their part, the children I’ve observed seem to absolutely love being part of their parents’ wedding. I can’t tell you how many cheeky little munchkins have become the star of the show as they work the room, charming the pants off all of their relatives and ensuring that every single guest falls in love with them. I’ve seen babes in arms, tantruming toddlers and fully formed miniature adults join their parents’ side and you can just tell that the pageantry and ceremony of the occasion is enough to capture their imaginations.

In a nod to the 21st century reconfiguration of the family unit, a wedding often brings together children from disparate relationships. I guess this in itself is proof that not everyone who procreates ought to marry each other, but it’s also really lovely to watch various families join together under the umbrella of a happy marriage between two people who are soul mates.

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'We invested a great deal of money in an Artful Splodgers crèche
so our younger guests wouldn’t have to sit through boring speeches or a
lengthy wedding breakfast. In turn, we hoped their parents might be
able to relax a little and enjoy the day free of the usual demands that
go hand in hand with bringing a small child to such an event.'  Franky, Love My Dress

Image Credit: Eliza Claire
See the wedding in full here

For me, I guess I’m proof that children do not need a marriage to have a
stable life, especially if that’s an unhappy marriage. Nonetheless,
what I’ve seen over the last few years has gladdened my heart every time
I’ve seen a flower girl bolt delightedly down the aisle toward her
Daddy.

So what are the most delightful things I’ve seen at weddings with children?

Heart  Invitations from the couple’s children inviting guests to their parent’s wedding (as opposed to the traditional phrasing of the bride’s parents as hosts)

Heart  A brother and sister carrying the ring cushion down the aisle – with matching expressions of deep concentration.

Heart  The bride being given away by her small son.

 Heart  Little boys snuggled into their mother’s lap during the ceremony, regardless of the fact that she looks like a bridal bombshell and is listening to something pretty important.

 Heart  A bespoke poem by the maid of honour on behalf of the couple’s daughter, read under the little girl’s watchful eye.

Heart  The father of the bride’s speech given in conjunction with the son of the bride.

Heart  A father-daughter first dance with the groom and his little girl. 

Heart  Family photo bunting or pre-wedding portraits including the kids used as signing frames or guest books.

Heart  Children of the newlyweds hosting their own kids’ table during the wedding breakfast (and absolutely holding court).

Heart  Portraits of the bridal party painted by the children given as wedding favours/thank you gifts.

Heart  A wedding cake with three different flavours chosen by each of the kids.

Leave some disposable cameras for the children to play with!

'Some
of
our favourite wedding photographs
are of those taken by the children, who were each given a disposable camera! This is a
photograph taken by our eldest daughter, who was taking a photograph of our wedding photographer photographing her!  I wrote about this for the Any Other Woman blog.'

Annabel Beeforth, Love My Dress

If you’re lucky enough to have your children at your wedding I’m sure there are 101 ways that you can incorporate them into your wedding day to make them feel a part of, rather than overawed by, the festivities. I don’t know much for sure, but I’m fairly certain that they will, in time, be thrilled to look back at your wedding photos or film and know that they were a vital part of not only your relationship, but also your wedding. 

What are your thoughts on children at weddings? What are you planning on doing, or what did you do to make sure the little ones at your wedding are/were looked after? Is the idea of children at weddings something that puts you off or are you looking forward to treating them and seeing them enjoy themselves?

You might also want to read this feature by Franky and view this article by Annabel that will be featured in the next edition of Mother & Baby Magazine.

Emma

Heart

 

Emma-woodhouse-the-wedding-reporter

Leave a Comment!

16 thoughts on Notes On A Wedding, Part 9 ~ Kids At Weddings

  1. we fell pregnant within 6 weeks of meeting and have most definitely been through enough of the for better or worse to know that getting married is most certainly the right decision for us.
    Having never really known a life together without our wonderful little boy Eddie it would feel crazy to have a wedding that didn’t celebrate his part in our lives. We have around 30 children attending our wedding, we are starting the whole proceedings with a childrens parade – we are hoping that our little boy will walk down the aisle with my father and I, but at nearly three years of age we are quite accepting of the fact that he will probably just do what he wants!
    After the ceremony we have giant space hoppers, a bouncy castle, giant jenga, outdoor snakes and ladders, a childrens entertainer, a kids cake table, a childs dressing up areas, hot dogs served with fried earlier than the adults meal and half an hour of a kiddies disco before the band starts. Later in the evening we have a room set aside with a babysitter and a large screen tv with popcorn for the kids to take some time out and possibly fall asleep.
    Our ethos is that if the kids have a good time then the parents can relax and have a great time too.

  2. First of all I really love this piece Emma, it’s so thougthful and considered and actually provides quite a fascinating insight into your job! You aren’t a parent but you have a great sense of what having children at weddings and big events like weddings is about from ‘front line’ experience – I love the list of delightful things at weddings involving children – especially the little ones sending out the invites!
    We had a 3 year old daughter when we got married, and of the 50 guests on the day, 5 were children, aged between 3 and 7. I had so much fun preparing goody bags for them. I started shopping early and getting cheap bits from The Pound Shop that I knew would amuse and entertain them, but to be honest, I think they all had more fun on the day exploring the venue, getting to know one another, scoffing the sweets and just generally enjoying the atmosphere!
    I asked my now 7 year old daughter what she felt about children at weddings last night – explaining that I was going to be on the radio this morning talking about it and that some people like children to be at weddings and some don’t, because they worry about mess and noise etc. She said “I think its a lovely idea to have children at weddings, because then the children can make new friends.” :)
    I’m a big big supporter of children at weddings, though I completely understand why a couple may choose to exclude children from their wedding day (cost, wanting their guests to be able to relax and enjoy themselves, fear of noise/mess ruining things) it’s just not something I’d personally do.
    Great post Emma xXx

  3. We really wanted our wedding to be a family affair and so it was important to us that the children of our friends and family were invited and felt welcome at our wedding. Looking back I can’t imagine the day without them, they brought so much fun and laughter to the day and the photographs of the children enjoying the evening entertainment are a constant source of joy and I think entertained everyone at the evening reception. In terms of catering for there needs we were on a fairly tight budget but we provided activity books, cameras (that went down a treat and it was very amusing seeing a little persons view of the wedding afterwards – it mainly featured cake!) my husband incorporated a part of his speech to all the little ones in attendance who had birthdays(three) and we had a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, cakes and dancing.
    I booked two additional rooms at the venue for parents to use at break rooms for little ones needing a rest or nap which was very gratefully received and gave some of the smaller ones an opportunity to recharge their batteries for more dancing and running about in the evening. We were blessed with a sunny day so much time was spent outside, all in all it was wonderful and I think the attendance of the little ones only enhanced it – lovely memories, thank you for bringing it all back to me xxx

  4. I am getting married in 6 weeks & have a 2 & half year old little girl. We knew we would always get married but having Evie made us an even stronger family unit she will be just as important as me & my partner on the day. From her inviting our guests to her dress being as special as mine. The day is about me taking my last step and taking her & my partners surname. To be the last bit of the puzzle. We have a lot of kids in our family & friends & would never exclude them as they are as important as our adult guests. Evie will have people to play with & no one is left out. I don’t think you have to stop having fun just because kids are there. When you decide to have kids you become responsible for this tiny little person that looks up to you and you don’t have to change your life to accommodate them yes some changes are needed for obvious reasons but in my opinion they fit around you and your way of life too. I’m more excited to see my little girl walk down the aisle & melt people’s hearts than my entrance :)

  5. I adore this post, as wedding photographers we see a mix of weddings with and without children and for me personally – the ones with kids there are always the more relaxed! Children have a way of making everyone in the room smile! We had children at our wedding and during the vows one of my best friends tiny weeny 3 month old screamed the whole way through with Colic (now I know this isn’t everyone idea of vows, but for me and Dom, we knew who it was and we felt less alone up there) his little cries where little reminder all the people behind us were people we loved!
    We have shot lots of ceremonies where the bride and grooms children are there and they have been lovely, Dom even shot a wedding with one 2 year old daughter of the couple on his lap – as she wanted to help take pictures of mummy and daddy- a picture i took of him with her on his lap is the couples favourite picture of their day – as she loved having the responsibility of taking the pictures too!
    I totally think its up to the couple getting married if they have children there or not, but the biggest cop out for me is when people say “we’d rather give the parents a day off”. We resonantly took our 2 and a half year old to a wedding (where we were guest to) with us – when he was tired we blew up his thomas the tank engine ready bed and put him to sleep in the corner of the room, we were relaxed, we all had a brilliant day (which he still talks about now) we had no babysitter curfew and our son was safe asleep where we could see him – we didn’t need time off from that!

  6. Totally agree that kids are often the driving force behind an atmosphere at a wedding and are almost always the first ones on the dance floor. I guess it’s that thing of them having no pre-conceived notions, so whether they’re screaming through your vows or just being daft and putting everyone at ease, they’re just doing what feels natural and surely on a wedding day that’s what you want more than anything?!
    Thanks so much for leaving this comment Zoe.

  7. I can’t believe I’m leaving another comment on Love My Dress, but so many pieces have spoken to me in the last few weeks! We actually had our daughter Maisie baptised as part of our wedding service in January. My husband Paul is Australian and we live in Brisbane, but I’m English and the wedding was in my home village in Somerset. It was probably the only time both our families and friends will ever be in the one place all together so it seemed very appropriate for Maisie to not only be involved in the day but also have a part of it be completely about her, watched on by all three sets of her grandparents. She was eighteen months at the time, absolutely gorgeous of course, breezed through being the centre of attention, and it meant so much to us that she was as part of the service as the two of us were. We walked back down the aisle as a family, which was perfect. It also gave us the opportunity to have baptism cake (AMAZING creation by one of my best friends) and warm spiced cider in the church afterwards to warm everyone up!
    Because we had so many friends travelling from Australia who of course had to bring their children too, and one of my bridesmaids was also breastfeeding at the time, children were always going to be a part of the day. There was one point trying to put Maisie to sleep when I could hear the music and laughter down stairs that I had a little pang of feeling like I was missing out on my own wedding, but looking into her big blue eyes that would just not shut I knew I wouldn’t have changed it, or indeed that moment, for the world. She was the ultimate reminder of what the day was truly about – the amazing creation of our love, and I couldn’t have loved her more!

  8. Love the children being included. It brings a lump to my throat when our little boy is invited to a wedding it’s so important for us to include him in everything, we’re a little disappointed if we are invited somewhere and he isn’t included :( i’m so glad to hear so many brides still want little ones to be included in their big day!

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