FIRST COMES BABY, THEN COMES MARRIAGE
BY KELLY MÜLLER
It seems everybody’s doing it: Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman…conceiving out of wedlock was once discussed only in whispers and solved with a shotgun wedding - often followed with the surprise ‘early’ arrival of baby. These days, the baby carriage often comes before marriage and it’s NO BIG DEAL. Because committing to the endless demands of a baby is about as all in as you’re ever going to get. Forever with a capital F.
My (now) husband and I were together for five years before he proposed. He rolled over one Sunday morning and over coffee, asked me to marry him. It was simple, unexpected and understated. It was perfect. We decided we’d already waited long enough so started planning for the wedding in just four months time. However, two months after the proposal, we found out we were having our first baby and our immediate wedding plans went out the window. Our darling daughter, Sunny Marlow was born in September 2015 and we set our wedding date for six months later, back home in New Zealand for March of 2016.
Friends asked whether I thought it was a good idea – we’d be sleep deprived, would I still be breastfeeding, how would we manage the day around her sleeps? Josh and I try to be fairly relaxed when it comes to the ebbs and flows of parenting, so we figured it would be what it would be. Getting married was important to us. It was about creating a family. It was a considered commitment to one another, and to Sunny. And it was one of the most memorable days of our lives. Here, I share my tips for getting married with a bub in tow.
Stick to what works best for you
People will tell you to ‘get a good sleep the night before’ – however emotions and excitement are sure to keep you awake. Add a baby to the mix and ‘a good night sleep’ is probably quite unlikely. I considered expressing and leaving Sunny with her grandmother but given she was only six months old, exclusively breastfed and had never spent a night without me, it wasn’t the time to try something new. Sunny stayed with me the night before and shared my bed. Co-sleeping for us meant fewer distractions and a faster turnaround time for feeds, which resulted in my version of a good night sleep! Plus, it was super special to snug up with my daughter the night before I was to be a Mrs!
Stick to your regular rhythm
Weddings are overwhelming. Period. The days are long and the excitement levels are high. We found sticking to our regular rhythm as close as we could worked well for us. I moved my hair and makeup to mid-morning and started our day as we would have if we were at home. I strapped Sunny into the front pack, we went for a walk and I got my daily coffee.
Time the day around potential sleeps but know it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go to plan
You know your baby best so when planning your day, consider their ideal sleep times and work backwards from there (though remember, it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t work out exactly as you planned!) We set our ceremony for 3pm knowing this was likely to be post-sleep and Sunny would therefore be well rested. Worst case, our drive to the wedding was 30 mins so if Sunny hadn’t managed a sleep; I knew she’d at least get a cat nap.
Have a select group to help with bub
There will undoubtedly be a lot of friends and family eager for a cuddle with bub. Given we live in a different country to a lot of our family and friends, even moreso. Make it clear who is responsible for her so you have someone who recognises when she needs a little time out if you’re not available. Post-ceremony was the most overwhelming part for Sunny so I suggest having someone to take bub away every 20 minutes or so to let them regroup. As the bride and groom, we had to fit in hellos, how are yous, family photos and toasts in this time and Sunny was passed between a fair few people. She handled it really well but Josh and I were conscious that she needed some time out. My sister and I took her away from the crowd and let her kick around and play with her toys in the quiet for a while.
Consider your wedding style
Because we live in Australia and don’t get to spend a lot of time with our friends and family in New Zealand, we went with an informal seating plan. We had a Mexican food truck in lieu of a sit down dinner and the reception was set up with trestle tables, bar leaners and lounge suites. Not only did this work for our guests, the style worked for our baby as it meant there were different areas that she could kick around or kick back without being confined to a set place or arrangement. Depending on how long your bub will be part of the action, this is really important to consider.
Just go with it
While we had a runsheet with preferred timings, we were open to moving things if needed. When it came to the speeches, we pushed them out a bit while we settled Sunny for another nap. We had the first speeches while she slept, managed to fit in a dance, drink and some food together then Josh and I hit the floor for our speeches once she woke up.
After the speeches, it was party time! Josh’s best friend and groomsman created a banger of a playlist and everyone was up on the dancefloor quite early on! My 79 year old grandmother included! By this time, it was clear that Sunny was starting to get tired and it was getting a bit much. I headed up to the house and fed her before handing her over to my mother in law to put her to bed. By this stage, it had been a long day for our baby and she was a little unsettled. Our grand plans of getting her to bed then enjoying the wedding together until hometime didn’t quite work out – she gave her Grammy a little bit of grief and wouldn’t properly settle with anyone other than Josh or myself. Between the three of us, we took turns rocking her into a sweet slumber, and then her Grammy stayed up at the house with her.
While it meant we spent a bit of time away from our guests, I felt so incredibly happy and fulfilled walking back down to the dancefloor and seeing everyone having such a great time. Weddings are about friends, family, great music, great food and a whole lot of love – and ours was certainly that! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything exactly as you planned or expected. Babies can be unpredictable so just going with it keeps everyone a lot calmer!
Create a sense of familiarity
As our wedding was not only in unfamiliar territory but an entirely different country, I made sure I had a few things to remind Sunny of home. We had certain toys, blankets and her favourite pajamas but I also had my signature Ecoya candles burning throughout the day. I have Vanilla Bean candles in every room of our house, so I had these on the tables at the wedding as well.
See the good in every situation
In what I am sure will be a tale to tell in years to come, we spent our wedding night at Josh’s parents, with our baby girl snugged up between us. We hired a house for our bridal party and ourselves but as they all got quite drunk and rowdy - and Sunny had had a huge day - we decided to take her home to the quiet. It was actually a super special memory in hindsight; we woke up together as a family!
Did you have children when you got married? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments section below!
Photos by Tane Coffin