We’ll all be glued to the TV on Saturday to watch Prince Harry marry Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel. And while we doubt the Duchess of Cambridge will be controlling three children under five singlehandedly, it’s fair to say formal occasions and youngsters who like to make noise, take naps and explore new surroundings at full pelt don’t always mix.
Here’s a reality check and some hints to help you get through a big day with little ones…
1) Clutch bags are over
The days of carrying a lip gloss and a phone are long gone. You’ll be carting a huge bag around with you: toys, snacks, spare pants, nappies, sippy cups…
2) Dress code
Super high heels might look amazing with your pale dress but it might be wise to factor in footwear you can chase a child in. And possibly an outfit where sticky handprints won’t make too much of a statement.
3) Pre-nuptial agreement
If your other half is aiming to neck free booze and chat to his mates while you placate, soothe and negotiate with your small charges, have a word beforehand. If you can divide and conquer the childcare, the whole day will be more enjoyable for all of you.
4. Location location location
Scout out the venue’s picturesque – yet perilous – hazards before the big day. A stream! A pond! Some unbelievably slippery flooring. Then pack the appropriate child-friendly equipment: wellies, a towel, some plasters…
5) Safety in numbers
It’s worth finding out how many other kids are going to be at the wedding. A few children in attendance could mean a more relaxed day, more elements aimed at the younger guests and – crucially – solidarity among the parents.
6) Picky eaters
If possible, find out what the wedding breakfast will be beforehand. Take the child-friendly option if it’s offered. And if not, don’t be bashful about packing a picnic.
7) Mobile library
Take as many books as you can carry without breaking your back. Books are quiet so might stop your child chipping in during the wedding vows. But there’s always the risk you brought the wrong book…
8) I(Pad) do
If all else fails, bring out the tablet.
9) Ghost guest
Abandon the idea that you’ll be in the wedding pictures, serenely smiling. Instead, you might be caught mid-sprint or grinning distractedly whilst tracking your 2-year-old out of the corner of your eye.
10) Naps = booze
If your little one nods off, now is the time to track down the tray of prosecco.
11) Head off hanger
The speeches might be happening before you dine but no toddler will sit in a high chair and wait 45 minutes for food. Now is the time to bring out the snacks and buy some silence.
12) Free speech
No one really expects children to be seen and not heard. Try not to wince if your little one ‘accompanies’ the vows or the toasts.
13) Small talk
Accept the fact at least 80% of conversations you will engage in will be about your small charge(s). His age; if he sleeps; where you bought his smart outfit. And that’s the conversations you finish before having to dart off or placate someone.
14) Granny radar
Seek out the older women who have been cooing at your child all day. They could well be your route to two minutes’ peace.
15) Night shift
It might be worth setting up a willing babysitter for the evening part of the wedding. Whilst he has looked cute in his chinos and waistcoat all day, and seemed entertaining chattering through speeches, his overtired squalling just as the first dance begins could be a sign the mood is about to change.
16) The morning after
You are unlikely to have a hangover. Instead, you’ll have a feeling of satisfaction. Getting through a wedding with small children takes some serious stamina. Congratulations!
As a freelance writer, Jo covers parenting, health and lifestyle with the odd opinion-based rant and celebrity interview thrown in.
Before freelancing (and juggling journalism with two young sons), Jo was on staff at Good Housekeeping, Bella, Woman and The Mail on Sunday. When not typing furiously or refereeing the kids, Jo can be found pulling on her trainers for a gentle run or baking up a storm in her quest to produce the perfect brownie batch.