In the Wedding Party- What to Do with 2.5 Year Old (Ring Bearer) and 5 Month Old

Updated on February 23, 2011
L.A. asks from Chicago, IL
20 answers

My little brother is getting married and both my husband and myself are in the wedding party. At the time of the wedding we will have a 2.5 year old (the ring bearer) and a 5 month old (breastfeeding exclusively still). The days events for the wedding are a relaxed party at the bride's house at 11, a ceremony at 3, pictures of the bridal party following the ceremony, reception at 6.

Need some advice on how to coordinate things with the kids during the day. I am debating my options, as my go to helpers would have been my parents but since this is their son's wedding day, obviously they will be otherwise occupied. I was thinking about hiring a sitter for the day to help with the kids during the wedding, during pictures when they aren't needed, and maybe during dinner at the reception and/or have a sitter take them back to the hotel to go to bed (will need to drive them to the hotel). I have already reserved two connecting rooms at the hotel for the weekend which is about an hour away from our house- thinking if they had to go to bed, the sitter could hang out in the adjoining room. The bride said she was fine with us kind of making our own schedule for the day based on what the kids need and will let us know when/where we need to be. What experiences have you had with being in a wedding party where your young kids are also involved?

Some other background information - I am a sahm and have the two with me all the time, so I don't really feel like it would take away from my enjoyment of the day to have the kids with me at morning party or the reception. The 5 month old will still be breastfeediing, and we cosleep with the 2.5 year old- so I wouldn't even know how the sitter would manage to have him get to bed/stay in bed happily until we returned from the reception. The toddler usually goes to bed around 8- but I think he might be so wired from the day that stretching it for one special night won't be a huge deal. We haven't really had babysitters besides my parents, how do you even go about finding someone for an extended day/including driving like this - maybe a sittercity?

Thanks in advance for the advice, it has been stressing me trying to figure out the logistics/agenda for the weekend on what will work best for the kids, the wedding orchestrations, and DH/I. I am not the first person to go through this and I appreciate the collective insight.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and providing useful recommendations.
The wedding isn't until the fall, so we have plenty of time to figure out the best solution. I am literally due any minute with the baby that will be 5 months at the time- and of course this is what I am choosing to worry about ;) We are going to have a long day at the wedding - the morning party is for 100 of our closest family, then the ceremony, pictures, reception, and another event the day after that goes all day from noon until the evening hours combined with the rehearsal dinner we are going to be staying at the hotel all weekend. I think I will need dedicated help on the wedding day. The ILs will be invited to the wedding, but they don't spend time alone with the kids and I wouldn't feel like I could count on them in this type of situation. I am one of the youngest cousins (out of 30+ cousins) but their kids aren't invited to the wedding and we have a gap between the 21+ year olds and then the junior high kids.
We do some park district classes taught by a preschool teacher, and she said she could be available on the day of the wedding - which even though she hasn't babysat for us before, she is qualified to handle the situation and I feel comfortable in her ability to take charge of my son. I have a couple of girlfriends that have offered to help out on the day of - they don't have children of their own though and not sure if they would really want to "work" all day. I also got a couple of names of young elementary school teachers that babysit on the side, that even though I don't know them now, we could have time to build a relationship with them before the fall wedding. I am thinking I would see if we could have a meal for the sitter at the wedding reception and maybe let her and the kids eat in the bridal prep room instead of having them sit through the long dinner- then whenever my toddler gets tuckered out, my husband could drop them back off at the hotel.
We do have options and plenty of time to work out all the details. Thanks again for the feedback.

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

When I got married a few years ago both my sister and brother had younger children. I invited both sets of inlaws to the wedding so they could jump in when needed and leave early if needed. I worked out really well, their inlaws got to see them in the wedding party, but not feel obligated to stay all night and had something to do (take care of very wired grandkids).



answers from Chicago on

We have a wedding to attend one month after baby #3 will arrive, and we have twins that will be 2.5 years old. We aren't in the wedding, but I plan on having my cousin come with, stay at the hotel with the kids, and I will travel back and forth to breastfeed the newborn.

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answers from Chicago on

I went through the same thing at my sister's wedding this past September. My husband and I were both in the wedding and we had to have someone look after our son during photos, the ceremony, dinner and the rest of the reception. My uncle (who adores children) watched my son during the day portion of all the events. I packed a huge bag for him with everything he needed for the day (meals, diapers, etc etc). After the ceremony, a good friend (who has met my son a few times) picked him up from the ceremony and drove our car to her house (my husband and I drove separately so we'd have two cars there) - my son stayed with her overnight (he was no longer nursing and I had his pack and play and toys already set up at her house).

You are not the 1st person to go through this. I would either have a close friend, family member (might be difficult if they are in the wedding) or a sitter that you are comfortable be around for a portion of the day and then for the night as well - as you mentioned in your post. I've looked on sittercity a few times and I think you could find someone there. It is stressful to think about but once the wedding day is here you will be happy you thought well in advance on this!

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answers from Chicago on

I would go outside your regular family for this. Find a sitter your comfortable with and start taking very short times away to get your little ones used to it. an exclusively breastfed 5 month old will be fine taking a bottle for one or two feedings. What would happen if you had to be in the hospital or had an emergency that you couldn't take him with you. I would pump a few bottles and have them frozen and ready to go. getting the extra hotel room is great. the little one for the photo's is great but a relaxing party at the brides will not be so relaxing for the others if you have the baby with you. The older one will be fine at the hotel even if you don't come home till midnight. the sitter can watch movies with him, give him a bath and cuddle him he will eventually fall asleep. and you will have a great time. good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

I have babysat at weddings before. I think the idea of having a sitter to help with the kids at the wedding/reception and then to take them back to the hotel sounds like a great idea.

As for finding a sitter, ask friends, church, local colleges, craigslist. I suggest having a "trial run" or two before hand so you get to know the sitter for comfort and so the kids get to know the sitter also.

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answers from Springfield on

I hired a sitter for my wedding for my sister's two kids and my future sister-in-law's three kids. My sister-in-law asked if she could invite her mother and father-in-law to watch the baby. Just a thought.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Is there anyone in your DHs family that could watch them? If not I would start by asking around to other moms you know if they have an older babysitter that would be good. I would then ask moms of kids in preschool if they know of any teachers who may want to do it. If no luck then look at local universities. We found a wonderful nursing student once for an event this way. I would also ask the brides family if they know of anyone.



answers from Fort Wayne on

If you don't already have a sitter you trust, this is not the time to introduce them to one.
Do you have a teenage cousin that could help? Trust me when I say that teenagers aren't really "in to" weddings. Since you'll be there, a tween cousin might be ok too. I think you'll find that a lot of people not in the wedding party will go back to the hotel and rest in between things. Is there possibly an aunt or uncle that could take your kids and the cousin back to the hotel?

It sounds like you really just need someone for a few hours and then for a few moments here and there. I don't see why family wouldn't be able to assist you. Ask your mom if she knows of anyone that would help.

I will throw out some words of caution. My daughter was 7 months when I got married. I had her with me the whole day. Honestly, not a good choice. We would have both been MUCH happier and more relaxed if I had left her with a family member all day. Of course, I was the bride, so my stress level was already high. :)

I think, if I were you, I'd send the kids with someone else for the whole day. Or at least send your son with his dad or a trusted uncle. Since you're breastfeeding, you'll want to keep the baby with you.


answers from New York on

If the wedding is held an hour from your home maybe you can ask the people from that town for help in finding someone local then you don't have to keep the sitter overnight. Ask your brother and his fiancee and her family to help you find a sitter if they live in the area. Also is there any way you can work on getting your older child to fall asleep without you between now and then? Family weddings are soo much fun and can go very late, I'd love for you to enjoy the whole reception without having to worry about a cranky toddler. Would he fall asleep watching a Disney movie if he was tired?


answers from San Antonio on

My son was 2.5 when he was a ring bearer too. I was NOT in the wedding though. But one thing that was amazingly helpful was to have my parents there to take him home after the reception got too late. So wedding was at 5, then we all ate. My 2.5 yr old played with the other kids there. I barely even had to watch him. He was running around with the responsible 10 yr old. So my bet is, your son will be fine with all the family around watching him be cute. Then after the cake, my parents took him home. If you are not comfortable with a brand-new babysitter, perhaps there is a teenage cousin who doesn't want to stay at the wedding all night? Maybe two girl cousins' might not mind leaving togther, knowing that after they get your kiddos to sleep, they can stay up and chat with eachother and order pizza, plus get paid.

side note -- the 2.5 yr old probably won't want to stand up at the front during the reception. Surprisingly, mine did. He played with a plastic horse (perfect for the cowboy wedding). We practiced and practiced having him walk up a fake aisle to the groom. Every time we practiced, the groom had a lolipop in his pocket. Day of wedding, I chose a white lolipop so drool would be clear and not stain his white shirt. I put 3-4 Smarties in white easter eggs for photos. The white easter egg didn't stand out in the least in the picture, but gave my son something to hold. And again, the Smarties are small enough that not too much drool is drooled.

Good luck!



answers from Cumberland on

Do you have someone from your neighborhood that could go with you? If not, do your parents know someone that could help? It would be wonderful to have a helper ther for the children-She can take the little ones-in the car seats and such, back to the hotel and tuck them in and stay with them. Their ages will help-a 5 month old is a smiling jolly bundle of yumminess as is a 2 1/2 yr old! They will make the whole thing memorable-and you may be pleasantly surprised how the older child might love to stay in a hotel room in a roll away stuck in between two beds-and the little one will be in a port-a-crib. Just have fun and feel blessed- and it will ripple out to everyone!



answers from Chicago on

I really do not have extra input but wanted to compliment you on how thoroughly you thought this all out and also realized that you cannot do it all, want to have a good time and be with your children at the same time. Depending on where you live I might also recommend calling your church or local community hall and ask if they have a list of people to help. Or even a highschool or nearby college. Have fun and congratulations!



answers from Youngstown on

I would never let a sitter I didn't really really know take my kids to a hotel and put them to bed..I am a very overprotective mom though. If it were me I would just take the kids and let everyone enjoy them. Your parents will help as will your husband and it sounds like you're getting a great sister inlaw too. It seems to be a relaxed party so I wouldn't bother with a sitter it would cost a fortune too I bet. I am also a sahm so idk sitter prices since I never need one or if I do just use my Dad since he is retired. Don't stress out just think about how fun the day will be! Good luck



answers from Toledo on

Do you and your husband ever go out on dates? You would be using a sitter for that right? There has to be someone who can watch them other than your parents. What about your in-laws? A friend? A member of your church youth group? My point is that there is always another option besides taking them with your or grandma. You just have to be willing to trust someone to help you out. Would it really be the end of the world if they had to stay home with someone they are VERY familiar with for one day/night? As for the sleeping/schedule thing...they would be much better off staying home in familiar surroundings. They're going to be off no matter what you do, but at least at home, they can run themselves tired until they can't stay awake anymore. Use your breast pump and get a decent supply built up, then pump regularly throughout the day/night and go and enjoy yourself.



answers from Chicago on

I would get a person from your area to come along with you to the wedding. Maybe someone from your church, or a playgroup? Have this person play with your kids 2-3 times before the wedding, so they are used to them. If they have their own car, it would be a bonus. They could meet you in the city and then leave in the evening. Pay the sitter for gas, and for meals, plus a premium for the watching. You may need to leave the wedding reception when the kids do in order to get them to bed.

Good luck with the 2.5 year old ring bearer. My daughter was in a wedding at 2.5 and it did not go well. I missed the whole thing because it wasn't taped. Her Dad was in the wedding and she wanted 'uppy' (even though 'rehearsals' had gone well) and my mother in law made me take her out. All of my stuff to distract her with was in the pew and I didn't grab there we were, sitting in the hallway, during the wedding. Luckily a maintenance guy came down the hallway and let us into the church nursery.



answers from Houston on

first with a 2.5 yr old ring bearer make sure you have a camcorder. you will be able to find lots of volunteers at the wedding for the baby. my suggestion is find a teenager to watch the baby at home or the church under supervision if necessary. like a cousin



answers from St. Cloud on

I have been the sitter for such circumstances. (ACTUALLY, me and my sister as there were 2 kids.) We were about 13 and 15 at the time. It was quite a few years ago but this is what I remember. Can't remember the exact ages of the kids.

My sister followed the 4/5? year old around the whole time. He was quite the busy bee so she was kept VERY busy! If any of the relatives were visiting with him or dancing with him, my sister was right there too.

I was the follower/caretaker of the 1/2 year old. Where she went, I went.

We stayed at the wedding till the kids were "done". Once they were tired of everything, we took them home with us (my parents drove).

This worked well. We were there from the church on and they were OUR responsibility. The parents were the ones getting married. We knew ahead of time what was expected and we also knew that we needed to be flexible.

Good luck>!



answers from Chicago on

We were in this situation last Oct when my sister got married. I was the maid of honor and my husband was an usher. While my husband was doing his ushering, my aunt from out of town was willing to keep an eye on our kids (who were flower girl and ring bearer). I know my sister and her fiance were going to ask my husband to be a groomsman, but decided instead to ask him to be an usher for exactly this reason. I know your husband will be occupied, so are there any family members or friends attending the wedding who can have the kids sit with them during the ceremony? My hubbie ended up having to take the kids out almost immediately after their part in the ceremony.

It was a very long day for my kids and I thought they would be ok through it too, but we were literally going from 9 am and by the time the reception came in the evening the kids were besides themselves. We have a neighbor who was able to come to our house and babysit for the reception. My husband brought the kids home, put them to bed and the babysitter took over from there, and he returned to the party.

I'd recommend you bring someone to the ceremony with you who is not emotionally attached to the event and will be willing to take the kids out if needed. I personally thought it was too much to ask a family member to potentially miss out on the ceremony to watch my kids, and was grateful my sister and her finace asked my husband to be an usher instead of a groomsman. Then this person can take the kids back to the hotel and watch them if they get overtired too. I think you may find out of town family you will want to reconnect with and it's virtually impossible (for me, at least) to do that and keep two young children in your sights and occupied.

You didn't mention when the wedding is. Do you have time to build a babysitting relationship with someone in your neighborhood or through your church? You could ease this person into the kids lives between now and the wedding and by the time the wedding is here they will be used to each other. You may appreciate having a babysitter after the wedding too.

Before my sisters wedding, we never left the kids with anyone but family either, but started building this relationship with our neighbor and my husband and I love getting out of the house for an hour or so every week to play tennis.



answers from Chicago on

We're in the phase of our lives where we're getting invited to tons of friends' weddings (we were the first to get married and have kids). Sometimes our kids are invited, sometimes not. If they're invited we bring them because it's super fun to have them there (now 2 years old and 3 months old, but 2 year old has been going to weddings her whole life). If they're not invited, then we enjoy a nice night out.

I think for a special occasion your 2.5 year old could just stay up. The younger one you could just wear in a baby carrier (outside of the ceremony and pictures obviously), or bring in a carseat or stroller for him to sleep in later in the night.

Will there be a cousin or other tween/teen at the wedding who might love hanging out with your little ones during some of the events (like the ceremony and pictures)?



answers from Chicago on

We will be facing the same thing in the fall when my sister gets married although the kids will be one year and almost three. The three year old is the flower girl and I have convinced my sister the one year old can just be an honarary ring bearer (wears the tux but doesn't have to do anything including be up front for the ceremony). As much as I also don't mind having them around, I and my husband want to be able to support the bride and groom and are both in the wedding. And as the matron of honor I obviously have some duties that I just will be distracted from the kids at times. And I also want to try and keep them fed, napped, etc. as much as possible so they can enjoy the wedding and others enjoy having them around. : ) All a long way of saying we plan to bring our nanny with us for the wedding. That way there is one person who can remain completely and totally focused on the kids. Obviously it is easier for us as I am a working mom and we have a nanny, so a bit different than hiring someone the kids maybe haven't been around before. But that is our plan if it helps you think about things in anyway.

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