Parents Perspective

What I've Learned About Parenting From Planning a Wedding

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According to the countdown text messages I get daily from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, my wedding is just eleven (11!) days away. There's a lot you learn while planning a wedding—I can throw around sentences like "well, for that kind of vase, you'll probably need 13-15 stems" with a certain kind of faux-confidence now.

But pulling together a wedding also provides you with a peek into other people's lives; through the many parents on our guest list, I've gotten a window into some of the many challenges and delights of being a parent. Courtesy of my big party, a few things I've learned about parents:

Parents are forever in a world of planning: If I can sum up parenting in a word, I might choose "logistics" based on some of the conversations I've had about babysitters, nap time, the perils of scratchy clip-on bow-ties, and cranky hour. And that's not to say that I've found my friends and family to be anxious parents—but it has been apparent that an elaborate choreography of transportation, forethought into how your child may feel at certain hours, and coordination of babysitters is involved in any outing.

They rely on their own parents: Consider that perhaps your parents friends and family will not appreciate you inviting their parents to your wedding, since now you've stolen away their first, best, and cheapest babysitting option.

It's great to bring your kids: It's fun to talk to kids about what happens at a wedding: My niece and I spent time practicing throwing flower petals on the floor, and my almost-nephew and I watched a video of the Hora together. Everything feels fresh when you talk about it with a kid, even wedding traditions that can feel cliched once you've sat through them more than a half dozen times.

But it's also great to leave them at home: When I asked my college friend with three kids—ages 4, 6, and just eight months old—if she wanted to bring her kids, her response was Ha! Thanks, but no way. And where will her kids be? Safety at home with her mother-in-law. Good thing we didn't invite her!

And how about you: Have your kids been to a wedding? Would you bring them if they were invited?

Portrait of children with balloons sitting in park