Wedding Hells: Planning a Wedding When You Have a Baby or Toddler

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By ANGHARAD SALAZAR LLEWELLYN

Planning a wedding is stressful at the best of times, but doing it in your spare time, on a strict budget and with a one-year-old in tow can add a layer of added pressure.

I speak as the voice of experience, as this is exactly what we did around 12 months after our son was born.

After getting engaged the previous December, my fiancé and I both felt that it was a good time to start planning a late autumn wedding before we started to think about having a second child.

Despite only have scraps of time around full-time work and parenting, we decided to plan the wedding in three months.

It was a small wedding and we thought – somewhat naively perhaps - that we could just skip the stressful build up and go straight to organising the big day.

We both agreed that we wanted a low-key event, and looked at all options to achieve this – from eloping to a foreign country, through to a registry office wedding, or getting hitched in the church in the village that I grew up in.

Eventually, as we live in London, we decided upon Islington Town Hall followed by dinner and drinks for family and friends at our favourite hotel in London. The practicalities of packing up our mini family and getting married in the North of England where I grew up was just much to take on. We thought we’d get everyone to come to where was most convenient for us.

The reality of working full-time, looking after a one-year-old, and trying to fit in wedding venue visits, wedding dress shopping, menu selection and budgeting was a big task to say the least!

I ordered dress options online and tried them on around my work hours and returned those that weren’t right. Every day at lunchtime I legged it to the shops, hit the gym, or spent the hour on the phone with potential wedding venues.

One day I raced across London with my one-year-old in his pram to visit a venue, only for it to fall short of my expectations. It then took two hours to get back to South London with a grumpy baby. Not fun.

Arranging the complexities of coordinating a day when the Town Hall room was available, the venue for the reception was available, and suited all our family and friends guests was harder than a round in the Krypton Factor.

We had to make compromises. The wedding ceremony itself was family-only, as the available room at the Town Hall could only accommodate a limited amount of guests so we asked our friends to join us for the celebration afterwards.

We designed the invites between us at home, and bought wedding decorations from eBay. We had to keep reminding ourselves it was a just a big party, so that we didn’t get swept up in the wedding madness. Our local florist let us down at the last minute, so we ordered my bouquet ‘sight unseen’ from an East London florist that my friend recommended. I gave her inspiration photos, and a beautiful arrangement was delivered on the morning of the wedding. We had to compromise on certain things to keep the wedding planning on track.

How to organise a wedding in your spare time and with a baby or toddler in tow:

  • Create a budget and stick to it
  • Have a percentage of your budget as contingency as you’ll always go over!
  • Online shopping is your best friend - I picked up my wedding dress from The Outnet, my fascinator from Lithuanian designer Rubina Millinery, my bouquet from Larkspur & Lavender and decorations from Bubblegum Balloons, Hobbycraft and eBay
  • Make sure you visit the wedding venue in person even if you’re short on time
  • Picking out an outfit for your child is really fun! Indulge in it
  • Decide on your child’s role in the ceremony – will they walk down the aisle with you, or will they need a guest’s lap to sit on?
  • Figure out childcare in advance of the day – for the ceremony, the meal and the evening. If in doubt, Sitters offer childcare at hotels across the country
  •  It’s a fab chance to get some really lovely family photos. Our photographer, from Your Wedding Story, was invaluable
  • Go with the flow. When your time and budget are limited, it’s important to be flexible and make the most of everything happening around you
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Would I have done anything differently? Definitely not. It was a beautiful day, and exactly what we wanted. Yes, it was stressful, but it was worth every moment. And having our son there for the day (and then packed off with my mum in the evening so we could dance the night away) made it extra special.