Both Parents plus 2-Year-old in Wedding

Updated on July 10, 2010
J.H. asks from North Andover, MA
21 answers

So, my husband's brother is getting married this weekend. My husband is the best man and I am a bridesmaid in the wedding, and our 2-year-old is a ringbearer.

I've been in many weddings, but I've never had to manage a toddler at the same time. We'd leave him home with my parents, but he's in the wedding, too. How will it be possible for us to perform all of our wedding party duties while juggling nap times, tantrums, meals and bedtimes?

I have already hinted to other family members that we'll need some extra arms, but no one seems particularly willing to help out.

Thanks for any tips you might have!

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So What Happened?

After asking everyone I could think of if they could cover for some of the day on Saturday and finding out that it was waaay too late to make plans like that, I just decided to roll with the punches. I helped the bride get ready while my son was napping on the wedding day, and then came back home so my husband could support his brother. I reminded everyone that my son is only TWO, I armed myself with lollipops, a National Geographic Kids magazine, books, and toys (which I stashed at the front of the church), I practiced using a "quiet voice for church" with my son for a few days before the wedding, and I placed myself at the very end of the line so that I could sneak out the side with him if need be. In the end, my little guy had a great day! I didn't need to use any of my tricks - he behaved like and angel and then stole the show during the reception (on a boat) by dancing the whole time. We had a total blast. Thanks to everyone who responded with advice. I've learned my lesson - set everyone's expectations, hope for the best, and go for it!

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answers from Norfolk on

If you are not the Matron of Honor, and there are other brides maids, it shouldn't be a problem for you to be the designated toddler handler.
Keep snacks handy, have a favorite stuffed toy he can quietly play with. If he gets stage fright and suddenly won't walk down the aisle, you can carry him or some people will decorate a wagon with flowers/wedding colors and give the child a ride down the aisle while they hold the pillow with the ring tied on it. It can be very cute! You might want to discuss it with the bride and groom to get a feel how they'd like things to be handled.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

If it was me, I would ask if my parents could be invited and then put them in charge of my little one. Otherwise like someone suggested hire a sitter to help.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Fort Wayne on

I can just about guarantee that you can throw the idea of naptime right out the window. There's going to be way too much for him to do. Talk to your brother in law. Ask him where your son is expected to be and when. Is he expected to be there for all the pictures? Is he expected to sit at the head table during the reception? Is there a limo for the bridal party? Once you know what the expectations will be, you can plan accordingly. If it were me, I'd stop hinting and just flat out ask people for help. Call them and say"hey, I really need help with my son during these times, can you help me?" If nobody will help you, then I would find someone (your parents or a sitter) that would be able to come and get your little guy after a certain amount of time. You might even have someone come get your guy right after the ceremony and pictures (which I'm sure they'll want him in).
Take some of his toys along to keep him busy while you're taking pictures. I would also ask if it would be possible to get the pictures with him done first.Most photogs are aware of the challenges our little ones can pose :)
It's very very likely that your brother in law and his fiancee just never contemplated the hassle that having all 3 of you in the wedding might pose. It's best to talk to them about it now.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would imagine your in laws are pretty much out of the question since their son is the groom. But what about your parents? My son was in my best friends wedding (so was I) but my hubby was able to care for him. It was a loooooong day for everyone. You'll definitely need a backup for you & hubby. Ask ahead--my son was not along for all of the location pix after the ceremony and if he had been--it would have been WAY more of a nightmare.
If your parents aren't going do you/hubby have any close friends who will be there who would be willing to keep an eye on him?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My husband and daughter and I were in the same situation as you two, but my daughter was only 1 year 9 months old at the time. She was a flower girl too and I had my mother (who was not invited) come to the wedding and take care of her while we got ready and then she made sure my daughter got down the aisle and then watched her during teh ceremony. The wedding reception did not start until around 5pm so I just decided to have my parents take her home instead of taking her to the reception. I was also pregnant at the time so I knew it would be easier at the reception for us to not have to take care of her. I suggest trying to get someone, even if it's just a friend, during the ceremony then at the reception, if you want her there, you two can take care of her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I haven't gone through all the answers so you may have already had this suggestion but...

Do you have a sitter or close friend that could come and 'nanny' for you? Explain to your BIL that you need the extra help since both you and your hubby will be busy and you would like to be able to give all of your attention to their day instead of your LO.

When my husband and I got married our oldest daughter was 4 and youngest was 6mos. We had our good friend along for the entire weekend as our nanny. It was perfect and she did a great job.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Is the wedding close to your home? If so talk with your parents and ask them if they could drive over after pictures are taken to pick up your son. Explain how it'll be a long day for him and how he'd probably rather be spending time with his beloved grandparents.

One of my daughter's friends is getting married next year and I've already offered to watch all the kids after the procession into the church. It'll give their parents a break while giving the kids some additional time to run around.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We are in the same situation this fall. I've already called a dear aunt who is coming to the wedding from out of town who is willing to watch the kids during the ceremony. I'd think about someone specific who can help and ask them directly for their committment. I don't think a hint is enough - everyone is going to be looking forward to the party and I'm guessing you won't get any volunteers.

If you can't count on anyone (and I understand when all your go-to people are unavailable) make sure the bride and groom know that the child has to be supervised and you may have to step out of the wedding to do so (probably not hubbie since it's his brothers wedding), and this may include going stepping down at the church or going home early from the reception. No fun, I know, believe me, I know :(

I hope it all works out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I would have him picked up after photos. He is to young to be up all day like this. Maybe your mom or dad can come pick him up. Just a thought.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

1. take a pack-n-play, and set it up in the corner of the reception hall, near where you and hubby will be seated. Then, when its nap time, no problem.

2. Before the wedding, put a coloring book and some magic color markers (they only work on special paper) in the first row next to your MIL.

3. Also, talk to you future SIL and make sure that there are some food/drinks on her menu for kids. My cousin invited several kids to her wedding and then didn't have anything kid friendly to drink (just water). The only kid friendly food was chicken nuggets.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

If the wedding will be local, could you hire your usual babysitter and have them come to the ceremony as well? This way if your little one has a meltdown just as it's time to walk down the aisle, the babysitter can whisk him outside and calm him down, and you can still participate in the wedding. Then when it's time for the reception, the babysitter can take him home. Toddlers don't tend to appreciate wedding receptions; it can all be a little overwhelming for them. And as you say, missed meal times and naptimes are a recipe for disaster at this age. My vote is, the little one comes ot the ceremony with his babysitter, and then leaves right after pictures are over. It will be more fun for everyone that way.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This sounds like a challange to the max. You really need to line up someone who will be "in charge" of the little one during the festivities. Practice with him walking up and down the aisle, praise him when he does it well. It's nice to have little ones do the ring bearer/flower girl task, but if it's going to comprimise the whole day and make everyone tense, then it wasn't a good idea after all. Perhaps grammy/grampy could come along for the ceremony and pictures, and when its done, take him back to their house for special time. Or if thats not an option, then the bride and groom are going to have to realize that you do need to take care of your child and they will have to understand. I have attended many weddings where children are involved and more times than not... it's not a pretty sight. Sorry to throw a wet blanket on the party, but thats my opinion. I hope it all works out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Is your husband's brother's family fully aware of the possible outcomes of having such a young ring bearer? One of my best friends had her 2YO niece as a flower girl and her husband's 3YO nephew as ringbearer. The niece took about two steps down the aisle and then ran to Grandma, the nephew panicked and clung to his dad's leg (his dad was a groomsman and walked down the aisle with the ringbearer clinging to his leg!).
Could you and /or your husband talk to the bride and groom and tell them that you're honored that they chose him but that logistically it would be too much for all 3 of you to be in the ceremony, and provide a couple options such as allowing your parents to be on hand to help with your 2YO or leaving your 2YO with your parents?
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Honestly, the stroller has always worked wonders for us in situations live yours. My husband and I have many situations where we have to take our 2 yr old along to "not so kid friendly" circumstances, and the stroller has always been there for us. : )
Make sure you have one that can recline for nap time, has a tray for snacks and a cup holder for sippy cups.

And I know it's hard but you might have to really speak up and say "hey, if I'm going to be included in this wedding, I HAVE to have help with my baby."
I know how stressful it can be rearranging an entire day for a 2 yr old and trying to please everyone but it can be done successfully.

One the actual ceremony is over, you should have more time to care for the baby so don't worry yourself too much, it will all work out just fine!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Bring a sitter with you, don't ask anyone else that will be attending the wedding. They want to attend a wedding not be a sitter. Your sitter can be responsible for entertaining the little one when you have other responsibilities. I agree with the other poster about pics, talk to the photographer if possible about grouping the pictures so your son will only have to be there a few minutes.

I would also choose someone older, maybe an adult friend who doesn't know the family getting married. Teenagers can get distracted even when they are in your home, I can just imagine how distracting the whole romantic wedding scene could be. An adult who drives can also head back to the hotel when the ceremony and cutting the cake is done, you'll get to show him off and receive all the compliments he'll be sure to get. Afterward, when he is safely tucked in bed, you and your husband can enjoy a party night out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

:-) Our family had a string of wedding that either my hubby or I was in... The latest included 2 of our kids as flower girl and ring bearer... The youngest was about 3... Here are some tricks I used...
Not sure how the procession will go (will you be up front already before he walks up?) If not,...Your hubby will already be up front. Both of you should have a lolipop up front already. When it is time for him to walk down the aisle have you or hubby step into the middle of the front of the aisle so child can SEE you... If he wants the comfort of parents there is only one way to go and that is front... Kneel down and hold the lolipop in your hand so he can see it but its not TOO obvious. :-) Yes, bribe him. He may run to you, but at least he's moving. lol

Also take him there and let him run around... Up and down the aisle... Practice.
Have someone stay at the back with him and you or hubby be upfront. let him practice walking up the aisle... You could even do it a couple times as people are sitting and waiting so that he is mentally prepared that people will be in the chairs.

Do not expect him to stand for long... (for us) the one who was not in the wedding would stand at the front off to the side and after the kids walked up the one bribing would then show them the other parent and that one would lead the kids around the chairs to the back to the seats or back out to the hall... So the kids could eat the suckers... (bring a bib and wipes)

Are there going to be any cousins that the kids are comfortable with? Or other moms with young kids that could perhaps occupy him during the ceremony?

Perhaps rent a hotel room nearby and ask your parents if they want a pool day... They could come to the wedding, supervise the munchkin for his duties, then wisk him off to the pool and nap time... while you continue with your duties...

Good luck and have fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

See if your parents can come to the church and take him home with them after the ceremony. I had my friends kids in my wedding and I invited her in-laws as well to help with the kids and take them home when they had had enough. My plan was to have the kids at the church and for pictures and have them stay for dinner and then left it up to them when they wanted the kids to go home. Worked out really well. I know it's late but see if at least your Mom can come to the wedding to help you and take your son home when it's nap-time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If it was me I wouldn't be in the wedding so I could take care of my child. Since you decided to be in the wedding I agree you should let the couple know your child is 1st.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I was going to say can you get someone to come and pick him up after a little bit at the reception and either take him to your house or your hotel room?



answers from Charleston on

Im glad it all worked out for you. Last december I was matron of honor my husband was best man my 2YO was ring bearer and my 5yo was flower girl so it made for a long but interesting day. We basically split it up and my husband took my son and I took my daughter and in the end like you everything went smoothly. I think kids sometimes know when they REALLY need to behave.

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