One of the more interesting challenges you face when becoming a new mom is attending a formal event, like a wedding, with a baby or toddler. These ceremonies can be long and tiring, messing up feeding schedules and nap times. Strangers want to hold your kid. You have to worry about your child crying during important moments. Not to mention, how awkward it is wearing a fancy gown while breastfeeding! And, if you are asked to be a bridesmaid, you are pulled away from your baby for hours, sometimes for the very first time. How do you navigate all this? I share 13 tips below on how to attend a wedding or be a bridesmaid as a new mom, with a baby or toddler in tow. A lot of this advice will work for other events too, like funerals and graduations.
Being the oldest of two sisters, I happily agreed to be a part of both of their bridal parties soon after my daughter was born. I was a bridesmaid for one sister in May 2015. My daughter was only 7 months, and I was still breastfeeding. This was also one of our first big trips away from home; we stayed in a hotel room for the first time with a baby. It was quite the adventure.
My second sister gets married later this year. I will be a bridesmaid with a rambunctious two-year-old who won’t understand why she can’t stand with Mommy at the altar. We will probably be in the middle of potty training too.
Being super organized, I’m already thinking about how I can make the day go smoothly. I’m taking everything I learned from being a bridesmaid with a baby the first time around to get prepared for round 2. By being organized, I will feel less stressed and more ready for the big day. The tips below will help you be a beautiful bridesmaid or relaxed wedding guest.
13 Tips on How to Rock Wedding Season with a Baby or Toddler
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Tip 1: Order the Dress Online
When you have a small child in tow, it is next to impossible to try on clothes inside fitting rooms for more than 5 minutes. I have luck ordering dresses online and trying them at home. I recently discovered that you can get gowns from David’s Bridal on Amazon. They have a huge selection with lots of color choices. Amazon makes it easy to return, though you may lose your shipping fees. I like being able to read comments from other buyers and seeing their personal photos before ordering, especially when choosing a fancy dress.
I also love to order from stores like Kohls that offer easy, free returns. You can usually find a larger selection of evening gowns during prom season and Christmas.
If needed, be sure to order a dress that works well with breastfeeding. I love wearing long maxi dresses with stretchy tops for this. You cold also bring a matching sweater to help with coverage.
Tip 2: Avoid Wearing Necklaces
Bridesmaids are usually asked to wear matching jewelry to complement their ensembles. If you are going to be a bridesmaid, speak with the bride beforehand, and request not to wear necklaces. Babies have a tendency to reach up and grab jewelry, and this can be a safety hazard. There is nothing worse than getting your baby’s hair caught in a necklace and trying to untangle it in the middle of a ceremony!
(Be careful with make-up too as it can get on baby’s skin and cause irritation.)
Tip 3: Stop at a Playground or Park on the way to the Event
To help with the “ants-in-the-pants” during a long ceremony, make plans to visit a park or playground earlier in the day. This will help your kid get his or her energy out beforehand. At least 30 minutes of outside play time will also help your baby take a good nap which will equal more smiles for photos later in the day.
Tip 4: Setup a Diaper Changing Station in the Back of your Car
Many reception locations are not equipped with diaper changing stations in the restroom. You are lucky if there is even one on site, somewhere. This is especially true if the wedding is outside and in a location usually reserved for adults-only, like wineries. To avoid worry, I setup a diaper changing station in the back of our SUV.
I clear the back of our car and lay down a towel. On top of the towel, I place our changing pad from home, making sure it is covered to keep it clean. I place a Playtex Diaper Genie smartcaddy organizer full of all our essentials like wipes, Aquaphor, diapers, etc. next to the pad. In addition, I keep spare clothes and socks nearby.
This diaper changing station makes it easy for my husband to care for my daughter while I am busy with bridesmaid duties, like tending to the bride. It also lets other members of our family change my daughter without having to ask me for help.
Tip 5: Bring an on-the-go Potty for Toddlers
If your Toddler is in the middle of potty training, in lieu of the diaper changing station, you may want to bring a travel potty with you. A port-a-potty can also be setup in the back of the car with a little bag. Or, you can use it with public restroom toilets. It fits easily in most diaper bags so you are prepared for sudden potty emergencies. I just ordered this one on Amazon to use at our next wedding.
Tip 6: Have a plan for Naptime
Most weddings start in the afternoon, right smack in the middle of nap time. So, my husband and I make a game plan to ensure our baby (and now toddler) gets some sleep. This allows our daughter to go longer at night. She is much happier and can actually enjoy the dancing and cake!
At one wedding, while the wedding party was taking photos, my husband drove our daughter around in the air-conditioned car for a while so she could sleep in the comfort of her car seat.
At another wedding, we setup our Guava travel crib in the cool grass. Miss L was the envy of many guests!
For my sister’s wedding, my husband ended up holding our daughter as she napped during the ceremony. There is nothing like daddy’s shoulder for a quick snooze.
Tip 7: Ask Friends and Family to Help or Hire a Sitter/Nanny
Of course, you can always hire a baby-sitter to watch your little one during the wedding and make it a date night. But what if your toddler is the flower girl or ring bearer? Then they will be coming with you.
For my sister’s upcoming wedding this fall, my husband and I will be bringing his parents (aka grandma and grandpa) to help out. They will take our daughter back to the hotel when she gets tired.
Another option is to hire a nanny/sitter to watch the little ones at a house close by. After the flowers petals are dropped and the rings delivered, all little ones can then head to the pre-arranged day care to play while the adults relax.
Tip 8: Change your Child into their PJs for the Drive Home
If know your child will be staying with you for the whole event, bring his or her PJs for the drive home. This way, you can carry your sleeping baby/toddler right from the car into bed. You don’t have to worry about waking them to change them.
Tip 9: Be Sure to Apply Sunscreen
During our first wedding experience, my daughter got her first sunburn. We were asked to take family photos with the bride in front of a barn door and thus found ourselves standing in direct sunlight for about an hour. I had not anticipated this, and I had left the hotel without sunscreen. Oops! I won’t make that mistake again. We now keep sunscreen with us in the diaper bag year-round. My daughter only had some burning on the tops of her arms, but as a new mom, I felt so bad.
And, Mama don’t forget to apply your sunscreen too! I also got burned that same day.
Tip 10: Bring Kid-Friendly Food
Another great tip that lets you relax at a wedding with your tot is to bring your child’s favorite snacks. There is usually limited kid friendly food, outside the traditional bread roll and pat of butter, for kids. My daughter doesn’t eat salad or mashed potatoes, for example.
It is nearly impossible to meet dietary restrictions or make special requests as many wedding receptions don’t have a chef present. The food is not prepared on site. At a recent wedding I attended, for example, there was no milk or straws available. I recommend bringing your own.
I think your best option is to fill a small ice chest or lunch bag with small cut up foods like fruit and cheese for your child. This should help them make it through the party. Also if you are mixing formula, have it all measured out in advance.
On a side note, the appetizers may work great to make a meal for your tot. Chicken skewers are a favorite of ours.
Tip 11: Have a Plan for Breastfeeding/Pumping
If you are a bridesmaid or wedding guest and breastfeeding, you may feel anxious about the upcoming event. I recommend staking out a quiet spot where you can feed your little one or pump. The Bride’s Room might be a great place for that (after the bride as walked down the aisle, of course.) Bride’s Rooms usually have doors and are often near a restroom.
Another option is to have a hotel room near the event so you can run to the room for a quick breastfeeding or pumping session and have access to a refrigerator for milk storage.
If all else fails, you can always use your car. Most pumps do come with car adapters for pumping on the go.
Tip 12: Bring a Small Bag of Toys or Start a Game
Many brides provide small toys and games for young guests, but be sure to bring some of your own too. Right now, we are loving the Crayola Store and Go Art Kit with Mess Free Markers. It works great in the car too.
If all else fails, hopefully the wedding reception will be held outside in a nice grassy area so the kids can run and play tag or Red Light/Green Light. This is worked great for us at a recent wedding we attended.
Many weddings also have bubbles which are perfect for young kids.
Tip 13: Bring Comfortable Shoes
There is nothing worse than trying to carry a baby in high heels. Sometimes you have no choice as a bridesmaid, but be sure to bring some comfy flip-flops to change into later to give your feet a break. If the wedding ceremony is going to be held outside in the grass, you may luck out and get to wear wedges or flats for the whole event.
At my sister’s wedding in 2015, the whole bridal party got to wear Nike running shoes. That was the best! My mom feet were so grateful.
What Tips do you have for Surviving Wedding Season with a Baby or Toddler?
Well, those are all my ideas for surviving wedding season as a new mom. What tips do you have for attending a formal ceremony with a baby or toddler? Please share in the comments below.
In the end, don’t forget to just relax and have fun. Weddings are a great way to catch up with family and friends, especially people you may not have seen in a while. They also allow you to reconnect with your spouse as you reminisce about your own special day and vows. Plus, where else can you find so many people waiting and willing to hold your baby? Enjoy the break while you can.
All the best,
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