Category Archives: toddler activities wedding

The wedding that tried very hard to wash away

You can plan and plan and plan a wedding. You can tick every box, tie every bow, micro manage to the last flourish of ink on the 86th label of table favours… You can spend months of your life working on DIY table plans, table names (and did I mention those labels?) agonising over the seating plan and table positioning and which confetti won’t cause a bird to explode and in which order the flower girls should walk down the aisle and at what point in the music… And still, something might happen that throws the whole thing into unprecedented chaos and renders at least half your plans for the day completely superfluous…

Now, this may seem a rather melodramatic description for a little bit of rain.

At this point it really was just a little bit of rain...

And at this point it really was just a little bit of rain…

But things quickly escalated to the point where, following the short minutes it takes to make a man and wife, it became crashingly apparent we were no longer talking about a little bit of rain. We were talking torrential, apocalyptic, hammering rain. The sort of rain which gushes down narrow, picturesquely steep stone steps leading to churches and turns the little Devon lanes between Dartmouth and Bigbury into treacherous rivers of stone and mud which eventually have to be closed off by the police. The kind of rain which comes accompanied by 50mph sucker-punches of wind (no match, as it turns out, for my super-strength false eyelashes) and a thick fog which settled itself obstinately over the beautiful sea and island view at our reception venue and refused to get up until the cake was cut.

Twenty precarious miles later our driver was to confirm that they were the worst conditions he had ever driven in...

Twenty precarious miles later our driver was to confirm that they were the worst conditions he had ever driven in…

You may think there’s not much one can do when faced with that sort of weather at a predominantly outdoorsy wedding. Guests were turned away from the dangerously flooded roads and a few never made it to the reception. Our ushers waded through actual quagmires to shepherd guests from cars to the marquees. The caterers arrived to find their oven sitting in six inches of rainwater. Umbrellas were destroyed, the bridesmaids’ beautifully styled hair took a hefty battering… The romantic tractor ride down to the beach for photos never happened and the hay bales we’d hired never left their stacks… So yes, at the time you might think there’s not much you can do… but there is. You can smile, shrug, have a glass of champagne and get the hell on with having a bloody good time. Because even though it’s really raining and no one can see the view and the groom’s elderly grandmother is stranded somewhere on the flooded Devon lanes* and every trip to the luxury toilet trailers takes three umbrellas, four extra hands and a pair of wellies, it’s still your wedding day. The best goddamn day of your life. And you know what? It bloody was.

It rained. Oh, how it rained... but we loved every minute.

It rained. Oh, how it rained… but we loved every minute.

Despite the weather – and I say that still without quite feeling I’m giving enough emphasis to the word Weathereveryone arrived at the marquee with a smile on their faces. The storm, the bloody irony of six weeks of gorgeous, sunny skies followed by the End of Days, gave everyone something to talk about, something to smile about. As a consequence, the marquee was full of laughter – soggy, commiserating, hysterically-relieved-to-finally-be-under-cover laughter – from start to finish. Luckily we’d splashed (lol) for a larger marquee than we needed, which meant no one felt crammed in, the decorations and fairy lights looked wonderful and everyone being stuck in one place for eight hours meant they had no choice but to bloody well study and appreciate every single sodding grain of DIY wedding prep I’d planned and crafted over the last 18 months… The band were phenomenal, the dance floor was never empty, the food was excellent, the speeches perfect… and after a while the rain stopped and the fog lifted over the dramatic, tumbling waves.

fog-lifted

The fog finally lifted…

It may have been a bit late for sitting out in the sun with a bottle of bubbly, but it certainly provided a beautiful backdrop for the smokers and the toilet-trekkers. And there’s nothing quite like standing on top of a cliff next to your new husband, watching the ocean crash moodily far below you as the wind streams your veil in creamy waves towards a marquee full of all the people you both love the most in the world.

...but in the end, it didn't really matter

…but in the end, it didn’t really matter either way

And, you know, if it hadn’t been raining we would never have been graced with this gem of a photo.

If you haven't been to the toilet in a multi-layered wedding gown, veil, wellies, false eyelashes whilst a torrential storm is threatening to blow the whole trailer off a cliff, you haven't been to the toilet.

If you haven’t been to the toilet in a multi-layered wedding gown, veil, wellies, false eyelashes whilst a torrential storm is threatening to blow the whole trailer off a cliff, you haven’t been to the toilet.


How to do a wedding with a toddler

Last weekend we attended the wedding of my other half’s stepbrother. Having attended a wedding-like event (a party for a certain big birthday of my mum and her best friend) with Lara back in June, we already had a few ideas on what not to do. The main one being the futile attempt to get Lara to sleep by walking her up and down in the buggy while infinitely more exciting things occurred in the party of which we all then, inevitably, missed the majority. I’m pleased to report the family wedding went without MUCH of a hitch, aside from the getting of which for the lovely James and Emma, and the unfortunate decision to let me supervise our five-year-old niece with a video camera (she only dropped it once. And proceeded to shoot the rest of the vow-taking upside down. Which I noticed REALLY QUICKLY. 45 seconds, tops.) So I thought I’d compile a (hopefully) useful list of tips for any other toddler-shackled party goers.

PREPARATION STAGE

  1. Probably best to get all mobile offspring ready before you. Otherwise you run the risk of tripping over the hem of your maxi dress (currently bagging around your waist due to the swift abandonment of the search for your most non-painful-yet-asset-boosting bra) as you chase your giggling, bare-bottomed child around the house. Although remember not to get them ready TOO soon, otherwise you run the risk of the cute outfit you’ve spent weeks imagining them looking SO gorgeous in getting covered in Weetabix. Or worse. Which brings us on to number 2:
  2. Make sure you take a photo of them in said cute outfit WITHIN TEN SECONDS OF PUTTING IT ON THEM. Especially if you have a little girl with an aversion to any kind of hair style and all un-rubberized footwear.

    She has honest-to-god ribbons in her hair. Ribbons.

    She has honest-to-god ribbons in her hair. Ribbons.

RIBBONS, though

RIBBONS, though.

THE CEREMONY

  1. Right, so you’ve made it to the venue, bra is doing what it’s supposed to, obligatory excruciating shoes are firmly on feet, adorable pigtails have long since been disgustedly pulled from child’s hair but their dress is still mercifully ungrubby. Now comes the most testing time of the child attendee’s patience. All I can say is make sure you bring plenty of un-noisy toys that won’t ruin the derriere of your outfit if you accidentally sit on them – books, stickers, magnets, teddies, poky-limbed dolls… Pretty much anything, but NOT play-doh. WOE BETIDE YOUR DAYGLO-COLOURED BOTTOM IF YOU BRING PLAY-DOH. We also loaded a tablet with Peppa Pig and Pixar and let her watch it on silent, which she did, not entirely silently. If all else fails, make sure you sit next to an outer aisle which will make you feel all Mi5 if you have to do the duck, scoop and bail.
  1. If the venue has a bar, make use of this before the ceremony. Children pick up on stress. Children pick up on calm. Particularly the calm of the parent who has just demolished their entire designated driver alcohol limit in one fell glug.

    Peppa PIg. Truly you earned the hours I've spent slaving over your cakey effigy.

    Peppa Pig. Truly you earned the hours I spent slaving over your cakey effigy.

FOOD

  1. Often, if they have invited a few young children, the bride and groom will bear this in mind when planning the meal. Ours provided fantastic little activity packs for each child and, as a result, what could have been a fiesta of whines, food-throwing, dress-staining and general misery of the type to send any designated driver straight into the arms of an open bar, was avoided. Yes, the corner of our table looked like a small bomb had hit a toy shop via the food court by the end of the meal. Yes, there were a few pouts and arguments between cousins about whose toy was whose. Yes, at one point I did have bubble mixture poured over my arm and spent the rest of the evening watching people wrinkle their nose in confusion at my vaguely chemical scent. But, all things considered, everything went extremely smoothly during dinner and the speeches.

    Our bride and groom provided this amazing activity pack for each child. Along with the occasional help of Mr Tablet, Lara was occupied throughout the whole meal!

    Our bride and groom provided an amazing activity pack for each child. Along with the occasional help of Mr Tablet, Lara was occupied throughout the whole meal!

AFTER FOOD

  1. For me, this was the most challenging time. Not just because it was now a good hour after Lara’s bedtime and my control pants were navigating ever further north, it was also around this time we suffered an unfortunate nappy incident, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a good ten months or so. Which brings me to emphasize: BRING SPARE CLOTHES. Kids sample all sorts of food they might not be used to at a wedding. Some handle it fine. Some have explosive diarrhoea.
  1. Find a place for your child to run around. After said incident of indigestion, I felt like we might be heading for a swift departure. Lara also happened to be in the snotty, unreasonable stage of getting a cold and I was by no means unconvinced that another incident of bowel excitement was on the cards. Fortunately, once we went outside and she discovered a little boy of her age to chase, all misery was soon forgotten and a good amount of energy was burned.

DISCO

  1. Having thought at around 8pm that we might have to call it a night by 9, I’m pleased to say we actually didn’t leave until well after 10.30pm. This is because, in no small part, to Lara’s discovery of the dance floor and the gaining of her third wind. As previously mentioned, we’d already experienced the option of trying to get her to sleep at this stage of an event and failed, so this time we decided to let her go for it, have a dance and pass out as and when she herself saw fit. And she had a riot. Actually, we all did. After all, it’s not every night you get to do the macarena in all your finery while your two-year-old clings to your hip and occasionally bats at you, uttering: “Mummy!” in a fairly appalled tone of voice.

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