Thinking of taking your baby with you to a wedding? Ruminating over the pros and cons, trying to decide whether having your young child as your wedding sidekick will be super awesome or total misery?
Never fear! I’m here to help you resolve this challenging dilemma!
This past weekend I took my baby to my cousin’s wedding, which was located in a tiny town a couple hours outside of Seattle. (I didn’t want to yank the big kids out of school for two days so close to the beginning of the school year, so they stayed home with my husband.) This means I did a plane ride, a two and a half hour car ride, three nights in a hotel, and all the accompanying wedding events with my newly one-year-old daughter in tow. I’m reporting back from the front lines, my friends.
And here are my takeaways and tips.
- Try to Get Seated Next to a Grandma on the Plane
We scored big-time on the flight from Los Angeles to Seattle: we got seated next to a woman with four grandchildren. Her name was Susan. Susan spent the entire flight playing peek-a-boo with the baby and letting the baby zip and unzip the zipper on her very fancy purse. When the baby unapologetically tried to steal the crackers and hummus Susan had brought along for lunch, Susan found this charming rather than horrifying.
So when you book your flight, request to be seated next to a grandparent. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
- Do Some Research on the Venue
So, it turns out that my cousin wasn’t exactly getting married at a resort. It was actually a “retreat”, which meant spartan facilities, no room service, and NO WIFI. (Wifi is not exactly crucial for babies, but it’s very important to my mental health. One connectivity break per summer is about all I can tolerate.)
In other words, my baby spent the long weekend crawling along dirt paths, playing with rocks and some rather large beetles, and eating tiny bite-sized pieces of grown-up wedding guest food like prosciutto-wrapped figs and buffalo sliders. It might have been smart for me to bring different play clothes and possibly some of those squeezy baby food pouches, is what I’m saying. RESEARCH: it’s a good idea!
- Take the Opportunity to Dress Baby in a Ridiculous Outfit
I’m always going to suggest fancy shoes and an extra-large hair bow. The baby only needs to look amazing for about four minutes so you can take some pictures. Then you can put your baby back down in the dirt where she really wants to be anyway. (Ideally buy a machine-washable outfit, I guess, if you really want to be responsible.)
- Take Advantage of Guests Who Want to Help with the Baby
There are always a couple of people at the wedding who will be entranced by your baby. They will offer to hold her while you get more appetizers, or walk her around to look at the flowers and twinkle lights while you get in line at the bar, or go to the restroom unhindered.
LET THEM HELP.
Seriously, take five child-free minutes to enjoy yourself and catch up with your cool uncle who you haven’t seen in a couple years. The chances of anyone stealing your baby at the wedding are pretty low, particularly if it’s being held at a retreat that’s kind of in the middle of nowhere.
- Remember That Babies Are Loud at Inopportune Moments
This is a pretty well-known fact: babies wait for that really emotional moment during the wedding ceremony – the one where the groom starts to tear up as he begins saying his vows – and then they either scream, cry, laugh, or possibly have an incredibly loud bowel movement.
There’s really nothing you can do to prevent this other than physically walking away with your baby (or maybe trying to blame it on any other babies present), but it’s good to remember that it’s going to happen. Wear flat shoes so you can walk away faster; that’s my only advice.
- Babies Are Good Sober Sisters
You will think twice about having that third or fourth glass of wine when you’ve got a baby as your plus-one. Because you know that if you go ahead and drink and dance and party the night away like you would normally do at a wedding, your baby will be awake at 4:00 a.m. burbling happily, wanting a bottle, needing a clean diaper, and possibly doing happy screams for no apparent reason.
So the day after the wedding, you’ll be so tired your whole body hurts, but at least you won’t be hungover. Good job, baby.
Those are my pro tips. I hope I’ve made your decision process a little bit easier. Please feel free to refer back to my baby packing tips for more actionable, practical travel advice.
And now I’m off to answer the 832 work emails I received while I was out of the office and deep into the woods on Thursday and Friday.