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10 Things You Need To Know About Taking Toddlers To Weddings
At three and a half, Harry has been to five weddings while Baby Olly was at his first wedding at just six weeks. My children are very well behaved usually, but there's something about a wedding that seems to set them off.
Everyone's tired from the travel, they're wearing their best clothes instead of their Batman costume that they really wanted to wear, and they have to stay quiet for long, boring periods while the adults drone on about love.
In the past, Harry has demanded the string quartet play Nirvana, he has kicked a football almost into the best man during the speeches and he has tried to €turn his face inside out' during the photos (if you're wondering, he tries to achieve this by attempting to eat his own chin. It doesn't work, obviously, but it doesn't look great for the picture either).
At one and a half, Olly hasn't had the same opportunities for causing havoc, but has instead settled for loudly and red-facedly filling his nappy at the worst possible moments. And you can get a really good echo in a church€¦
To save you time and embarrassment, I have compiled a handy list of everything you need to know about taking toddlers to weddings€¦
1) Brides are overflowing with happiness and may want to cuddle your baby or toddler. However, your toddler is likely to have eaten quite a lot of chocolate and several plates of wedding cake, especially if there are grandparents on the loose.
If you see the bride going to cuddle your offspring, you must drop everything and sprint towards her, baby wipe in hand, ready to intercept the chocolatey fingers. Remember that bit in €The Bodyguard' where he takes a bullet for her? Like that but even faster€¦
Cara Delevingne with a young child in a one-sie at her sisiter's wedding (Copyright: REX)2) Your toddler might be invited to be a flower girl/page boy. You will think this is an honour until the morning of the wedding when reality hits. It will in fact be a terrifying ordeal in which you are expected to keep your small child clean, smiling and polite when they are tired, out of routine and wearing white. Their proximity to the wedding party also means more chocolate hand-print risks (see point 1).
If brides actually thought about it, they'd dress their flower girls in a sort of muddy brown and rename them grumpy girls (remember poor Grace Van Cutsem at the royal wedding? She was the one shouting at the crowds and covering her ears€¦).
3) You may plan ahead and fill your bag with CBeebies magazines to keep the little one happy during the ceremony. This is a great idea, just make sure you've checked what the free gift is before you pull it out. In the past, we have had wind-up plastic €racing snails' shoot off up the aisle, which is hard to explain.
4) If it's a religious ceremony, most toddlers will want to know why that man is in a dress. It's worth having a short, pre-planned answer (I go for €it's like his school uniform') rather than having to explain what a cassock-alb is.
5) There will be quiet moments in weddings. Profound, loving moments where the bride and groom gaze at each other and couples in the congregation squeeze each other's hands in brief recognition of the power of love. Your child will use these moments to break wind loudly, start singing €Teenage mutant minger turtles!' or shout that €granny's hat looks like a bird crashed in it'. It's best to arrange in advance which parent will rush, red-faced from the ceremony clutching the wailing child.
6) Brides and grooms usually make an effort to welcome their youngest guests. However, this effort is often manifest by a large bag of sweets and a packet of crayons by their seat. Bear in mind that a sugar-crazed toddler running amok with a fistful of crayons is unlikely to be popular, especially with people wearing white.
7) Children love the first dance and often want to twirl and dance around the happy couple. You may think this is sweet and charming, but the couple have probably rehearsed this dance for the last six months and your little darling's twirls just sabotaged their big moment. Restrain your offspring now and promise to ask the DJ for that song from €Frozen' later.
8) €We don't believe in serving horrid so-called child-friendly food, so we're just giving the children the same as the adults,' the mother of the bride will smile. If the thought of trying to coax mini crab timbale into your fussy two-year-old fills you with dread then make sure you've stuffed your bag with enough snacks to get you through the day.
9) If the wedding is in a hotel, the whole party will probably re-assemble in the morning for breakfast. You may have been in bed by 9pm, thanks to your sleeping offspring trapping you in your hotel room, but remember that the other guests have probably danced until the small hours of the morning. Respect their hangovers and try to stop your toddler asking Uncle Sam why his eyes are all pink.
10) Finally, never assume your child is invited unless they are actually specifically named on the invite. Many people plan child-free ceremonies in order to avoid all of the above disasters (and often to give the parents a night off rather than because they don't like kids). Remember, there's only one thing worse than having a badly behaved child at a wedding - and that is having the only child at a wedding.