When I married my husband almost 10 glorious years ago, we had our almost 1-year-old daughter at our side. She wasn't the reason we chose to marry, but after we decided to tie the knot we immediately knew she had to be part of the big day. Of all the incredible things I felt when my kid walked down the aisle at my own wedding, the one I remember most is sheer anxiety. Just, you know, not for the reason you would probably, and perhaps initially, assume.
My wedding day was unexpectedly hot. Actually, sweltering is probably a better description. We planned an October wedding, hoping to experience beautiful fall temperatures but, instead, it was one of the hottest fall days on record. Our ceremony was in a gorgeous cultural center on the top floor, with no air conditioning. There was no way around the discomfort while exchanging vows, but we did the best we could with what we had (paper fans, anyone?).
One thing the remained constant throughout this amazing day, however, was the presence of family, friends, and of course, our daughter. I even crowned her my Maid of Honor, she's just that special. The wedding was five days before her birthday, and up until that point she had never missed a nap or been surrounded by so many people before, so my partner and I worried it'd be disastrous in so many ways. Looking back, I should've given her more credit, because honestly, she did great and I worried for no reason. Here's some things I felt before, during, and after she took that trip down the aisle on the day her father and I became husband and wife.
Embarrassed We Weren't Already Married
I get that it's a different time now, and two people who love each other and happen to have a child (or children) don't have to be married to stay together. I'm not so old fashioned I don't think it can work. For me, though, marriage has always been important. Part of my stance is the result of lessons I was taught throughout childhood, and the other part is just my personal preference. This is why I married right out of high school, and when that ended and things progressed with the father of my daughter, I couldn't see a future without that kind of commitment.
When my daughter walked down the aisle at my own wedding, it was a reminder of all my partner and I had gone through. While I'm sure there were some judgmental eyes watching on, I think the majority of people there were thrilled for us — even if we didn't marry before her birth.
Scared She'd Throw A Tantrum
The whole week of the ceremony was insanely busy, so when the time came for my daughter to walk down the aisle I feared that would be the time she'd choose to scream her lungs out over literally anything. Maybe her dress was too hot or she was hungry. Maybe she was nervous or uncomfortable. Whatever it was, because of my own anxieties for how the day would go, I didn't feel prepared to handle it. Luckily, she managed to get through most of the day without a huge meltdown (though I might've had one at some point).
Anxious Something Would Go Wrong
Of course, wedding day jitters set in as the music began. My daughter wanted me to hold her but we'd already practiced her walking with my bridesmaid. While I could've (and would've) improvised, the start of my long walk was full of anxiety.
At the time, I wasn't fully recovered from my postpartum depression (PPD), so little things felt huge. I was afraid my daughter would leave her seat to come for me, I'd trip and fall on her, and [insert every humiliating scenario here]. I'm much more willing to go with the flow now, but way back then I had an image of what I wanted my day to be like and I stressed about little things going wrong, then turning into big things as a result. Now I wish I'd lightened up so I could actually enjoy the day with my daughter.
Excited For The Entire Day
Once my daughter did her part and took her seat next to my parents, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. While I couldn't exactly "relax" just yet, I'd been so anxious over her refusal to go down the aisle or throwing a tantrum, it struck me how I'd taken for granted how well she was doing instead. Seeing her sitting there in front of us made me excited for the rest of the day's events.
Sorry She Didn't Understand
There came a point when, sometime after walking down the aisle, my daughter hit her limit. She was slightly restless (as they are at that age), and again, it was stifling in the room we'd rented, so I didn't blame her.
I remember looking to her towards the end of the vow exchange and wishing I could explain why everything was happening. I felt apologetic she didn't understand why we had to take so many pictures or why it wasn't yet time to change clothes and go eat. If I could go back, I'd spend more time reassuring her the day would come and go, and all we'd have left are the memories.
Proud Of My Girl For Doing So Well
When it comes down to it, my daughter did an amazing job getting through an event of this magnitude. Again, I couldn't explain what the day meant to me and her father to have her part of our special day, or how proud we were she did so well. Now that she's 10, we do so as often as possible. I still have memories of her walking down the aisle with my bridesmaids and it's one of the best parts of the entire day.
Relief Because It Was Done
Seeing my girl sit with family after the epic aisle walking was something words can't fully express. Yes, I had a lot of worries about how things would turn out, but once the pastor turned us towards the crowd and pronounced us husband and wife, the look on her face is something I'll never forget. She didn't know what had just happened, and yet, somehow, I think she did. Even with how well everything went, seeing her there in her beautiful white dress calmed me. We did it. I could finally breathe, and soon enough, she'd be free to throw all the tantrums she wanted (and she did, too).