When my sister-in-law first came to my wife and I with the proposition that our kids participate in her wedding, we were thrilled. Visions of our tiny people dressed like fancy adults flashed before our eyes. A little man in a tie and suspenders? Little ladies in poofy dresses? I am holding back an “Aawwwwww” just typing it. These things are objectivly adorable. Who wouldn’t want that in a wedding? As it turns out, the parents of the kids, thats who.
Waiting: A Kid’s Least Favorite Pastime
The wedding was at 4:00, we were to arrive at the venue with the kids to get ready by 1:00. Time flies when you are getting ready for your own wedding. The exact opposite happens when you are getting your kids ready for somebody else’s. My wife took our five and three year-old girls to get them ready with the bridal party, and I was left to be in charge of our one year-old boy. I was confident he would love some father-son time. I was even more confident he’d love all the snacks I packed. I knew it would be no small task to keep him happy the whole time, but the least I could do was keep him fed.
His satisfaction with father-son time lasted about twelve minutes and he was looking for his mom. But hey, I’ve got Cheerios!
His satisfaction with Cheerios lasted about three minutes. Fifteen minutes down, two hours and forty-five minutes to go.
Eventually it was time to get him dressed. Little dress pants, little vest, little bow tie. This is what we all came to see. I mean, sure the bride and whatever, but there was no doubt in my mind this handsome little man would steal the show. Getting a squirmy little person dressed in pajamas can have its challenges, getting a squirmy little man in a dress shirt with buttons, so many buttons, started the stress snowball rolling. Why, I ask you, would you make a shirt for a toddler with a button down collar and button cuffs? I sometimes have trouble buttoning my own cuffs, but yeah, let’s expect an 18 month-old kid to hold his hands still long enough to button his cuffs. Million dollar idea – child sized dress clothes that use only zippers and snaps.
After a well-dressed wrestling match to get him in his clothes, it was back to waiting. But hey, I’ve got crackers! And a new challenge – keeping a tiny little man both fed, and clean. An hour and half down, and an hour and a half to go.
The rest of the time was filled with him wandering away, me going and getting him, him smacking me in the face, me putting him down, repeat. He doesn’t talk so if something happens that he can’t say “no” to, he hits. He told me “no” a lot. The schedule of the wedding didn’t allow for a nap and it was starting to show. With each passing minute the wedding was getting closer and he was getting crabbier. I feared he was on a collision course with a tantrum half-way down the aisle.
Getting Kids Down the Aisle: Please Don’t Cry
My younger daughter was supposed to the flower girl. My older daughter was supposed to hold the hands of her little brother and her little cousin, who is also less than two years-old. Part procession, part day care. What could go wrong? The rehearsal had mixed results. The first practice run went pretty well. The second practice run left the flower girl in tears. The actual wedding could go either way.
The bridal party was lining in the back of the building. The girls were anxious, but mostly fine. The little boy was losing his shit. He had enough. Enough of his fancy clothes. Enough crackers. Enough being picked up and moved from here to there. It seemed the only thing he didn’t have enough of was smacking his old man in the face.
We had been reserving the right to pull him out at the last minute if he was clearly not going to cooperate, but hoped it wouldn’t come to that. The procession started to move, we were making our way to the ceremony, he was still crying. Then my wife pulled out a miracle. And by miracle, I mean half-eaten apple pie Larabar out of her pocket. I now understand why women get so excited when a dress has pockets. If you ladies aren’t using these pockets for snacks, what the hell are you doing?
Snack clenched in his tiny fist, he turned off the tears and started to make his way down the aisle. Thankfully, my wife was the person going up directly in front of him, so I told him follow mommy and hoped for the best. Wobbly step after wobbly step he made his way to the front. At one point he realized a hundred people were looking at him and he came to a stop. The older girls caught up to him, and they all looked a little confused. I prepared myself to swoop in and grab him, but he looked at his snack, regained his composure, and kept on waddling up the aisle. That’s my little prime time player.
Picture Time: A Fresh Hell
The wedding ceremony itself is the hardest part, right? After getting the kids down the aisle the rest is fun, right? Getting kids to walk down the aisle was nothing compared to getting them to stand still.
The high of the ceremony wore off. The kids were ready to party. We told them there would be music, and dancing, and cake after the wedding and they wanted it now. But pictures needed to be taken. Many pictures. This would be the proof that these tiny adorable people were in the wedding. This was the whole reason to have kids in a wedding in the first place – for a perfecly posed picture with adorably dressed children with angelic smiles on their face. That picture doesnt exist. I haven’t seen the photographer’s pictures yet, but I would be totally shocked if there was even one picture with even half of the kids looking in so much as the general direction of the camera. It is much more likely that they have tear streaked faces, snotty noses, and crumbs covering their clothes. Can you photoshop out a booger?
We begged, we poked, we prodded, we were smacked in the face. We were taking pictures during the pre-dinner cocktail hour. The. Whole. Hour. As starving as my kids said they were, they wanted nothing to do with the available appetizers. Apparently chorizo stuffed mushrooms and teryaki chicken skewers aren’t “kid friendly.” My daughters were reduced to tears at the prospect of eating chicken on a stick. Sadly, you don’t often see string cheese on the h’orderves menu. At one point my fitness tracker buzzed, and I looked at my watch to see what it was. My stress level was too high. You don’t say.
Once pictures were finally done I played cocktail hour catch up. I fired down three scotches in about fifteen minutes. The first two were to take the edge off, the third one was for fun. I mean, its still a wedding after all.
Finally, We Danced
Eventually, we proved to our kids we weren’t liars. There was music, there was dancing, there was dessert. The kids loved seeing their aunt dance, and they would later say that their favorite part of the wedding was when she kissed their new uncle. By the end of the night the little man was a complete mess. Handsome little outfit in shambles, and I wasn’t looking much better. He had chocolate on his hands, so I had tiny chocolate hand prints on my suit. But at this point I didn’t care. Maybe it was the relief of finally being able to enjoy the party, or maybe it was the open bar, but he could have lit my tie on fire at that point and I wouldn’t have cared. They were all having fun.
To keep my girls from twirling around on the dance floor while the bride and groom had their dances, I held onto them. As I picked them up, one in each arm, I held my girls while we watched the bride have her dance with her father. Right then I realized something. As challenging as them being in this wedding was, it will be nothing compared to what it will be like for their own. At this wedding I was stressed. At their weddings I’ll be a puddle.