The Ultimate Guide to Babies and Toddlers at Weddings

To quote Forrest Gump’s mama, taking a baby to a wedding is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Okay, so Mrs. Gump might have been talking about life, but it applies just as much with babies and toddlers at weddings.

Babies at weddings are sort of like navigating shark-infested waters. You might get lucky and swim alongside friendly dolphins, the sun shining on your back. Or you can become surrounded by blood-thirsty sharks ready to attack.

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While most people view marriage as a community celebration, there are many couples who choose to enforce a child-free wedding with absolutely no hesitation.

And you know what?

It is ultimately the couple’s decision. It is their wedding after all. If they aren’t open to the chance of toddler screams accompanying their wedding ceremony or having to share the dance floor with tiny tots, that is their choice and we should respect it.

two little girls sitting on the grass at a wedding holding flower bouquets

As a guest, it’s important to find out if your child is invited, and worthwhile to ponder if you’d actually want to have your child in attendance, particularly if you have a newborn baby or feisty toddler.

If You’re Considering Bringing Your Baby or Toddler to a Wedding, Ponder This:

  • Is your child invited?
  • Is the wedding super luxe and formal?
  • What time is the ceremony and how does that coincide with your baby’s schedule?
  • Will you have a chance to enjoy the wedding with your baby or tiny tot in tow?
  • Are you extremely nervous or anxious about leaving your young child with a babysitter?
  • Are you wanting to relax and converse with family you haven’t seen in a while, drink and dance the night away, see the bride and groom, or are you going just to introduce your baby to friends and family who might be at the wedding?
  • How is your baby or toddler’s disposition? Cranky kiddos can be a distraction to you, the other guests, and last but not least, the bride and groom. Remember, the attention should be on the blushing bride, not on a screaming baby or tantrum-throwing toddler.

I’ve attended formal child-free weddings with not a diaper bag in sight and family-friendly nuptials that featured kid’s play stations and children running amok blowing bubbles.

Both were fun, both were beautiful, but the expectations for each were unique.  

Related: 12 Expert Tips for Flying with A Toddler

This past weekend I attended my brother Nick’s wedding in the beautiful countryside of Sonoma County. There was a barn, a vineyard, beautiful trees, lots of picture-perfect views, and loads of babies and children.

I had the most amazing time meeting my sister-in-law’s family, grubbing endlessly, and dancing off my glasses of Moscow mules and whiskey sours. My husband’s experience, however, was quite different.

You see, he was responsible for our 18-month-old Violet throughout the afternoon and evening festivities.

He was the one who had to miss the ceremony because Violet wanted to twist and twirl in her seat like a rotisserie chicken and bellow like a rooster.

He was the one who sat in the car for two hours allowing her to take a much-needed nap after her meltdown during the cocktail hour before dinner.

He was the one who changed her diaper when mama was heel toeing to Too Short’s Blow the Whistle and twisting and twirling to the Cha Cha Slide.  

If I had switched places with my husband, I can’t say I would have had the same awesome experience.

But we had a plan, and this is what we agreed on.

I DID NOT want to miss a thing!

With that being said…

If You’re Bringing a Baby or Toddler to a Wedding, You Must Set Reasonable Expectations

Not all weddings will have children’s activity tables, kid’s fun packs, childcare, or kid-friendly food

Be prepared. Bring your stroller, coloring books, snacks of plenty, iPad, a new toy, and perhaps a preheated meal stored in a lunch pack if you have an ultra-picky toddler. Ultimately, it’s down to the children’s parents to keep their kids happy and entertained, not the bride and groom.

The bride and groom have enough on their wedding planning plate, don’t cause extra work for them. Remember, it’s about them on their wedding day, not you. If you are lucky enough to go to a wedding decked out with kid’s gear and fun, be grateful, and don’t forget to thank the bride and groom for going above and beyond.   

You’ll miss the speeches or possibly the ceremony

As I mentioned earlier, my husband missed the whole ceremony. When my husband was eating, I took care of Violet. Unfortunately, she was still in a mood. I really wanted to hear my brother’s best man’s speech, but instead, I had a toddler screaming in my ear and had to duck out so as not to disturb the wedding party and other guests. I was lucky they didn’t have a videographer. If so, Violet would have made her first major feature debut.  

Related: 20 Toddler Discipline Strategies You Should Start Using Today

You can’t truly enjoy conversations

Likely, you will see people you haven’t seen in years or meet some people for the first time. Most everyone wants to talk and enjoy one another, not play babysitter. And, just when you’re about to find out what happened with the crazy uncle, your baby lands back on your lap anxiously awaiting a bottle or boob.

You’ll want to dance and possibly snag a drink or two

Dancing with toddlers can be fun, but it can get hazardous combined with drunken people, flailing arms, and two-stepping guests. If you strap your baby to you, the dancing may help put them to sleep, you just can’t rock your favorite Roger Rabbit or Tootsie Roll dance move.

Tips for Taking Your Baby to a Wedding

If you’re invited to a kid-friendly wedding, and you decide to bring your baby or toddler, here are some tips to make the most of this special day.

  • Have a master plan.
  • Pack your diaper bag with everything and more.
  • Make sure your baby or toddler has full tummies prior to the ceremony.
  • Take an aisle seat so you can duck out quickly and easily, ideally not the aisle where the wedding party is walking down…the other side. You may want to sit towards the back too as not to disrupt the ceremony, photography, or filming.
  • Dress your kiddo for the wedding, but don’t forget to include a change of clothes for the tykes. Wearing tights and itchy fabrics is fun for no one, especially babies.
  • Tire your little one out with dancing or wear your baby and dance her to sleep.
  • If you’re on your own, consider bringing another family member, or another adult, to help. Of course, only if you are permitted a +1 and have RSVP’d to the bride and groom in advance.
  • If you need a high chair, note your request on the RSVP. Remember, it is a request and is not guaranteed. If it is not available, hopefully, your helper, partner, or another family member can take turns eating until the baby or toddler is fed.
  • Have fun, try to relax, and if you can, boogie the night away so you can both get a good night’s sleep!
Little girl swinging her dress around while standing on the grass.

Have you attended a wedding with your baby or toddler? What has worked for you?

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