My Toddler Was My Ring-Bearer On The Best Day Of My Life
When I imagined my wedding day as a little girl I never thought I would be awkwardly shimmying my wedding dress down to my waist to breastfeed my toddler in between “Electric Slide” and “We Are Family” but one never knows what the future will hold. Maybe my childhood dream wedding did not include having my toddler as the ring-bearer, being pushed down the aisle in a Little Tykes car, but I honestly can’t imagine having it any other way.
When my now-husband and I decided to start trying for a baby, we weren’t married. We talked about getting married but both agreed we loved each other, were committed to one another and didn’t need a piece of paper or giant (expensive) party to prove it. So we forged on with our quest for an out-of-wedlock child and found ourselves pregnant two months into trying. As the pregnancy wore on and my emotions started to get the best of me, I started to question my original stance on marriage. I felt like a lot of people assumed the pregnancy was an accident since we weren’t married and I had this strong desire to have the same last name as my child. So, at eight months pregnant, in a dress I found on the clearance rack in the plus-sized section at Macy’s, I married my child’s father at City Hall. We swore we would eventually have a real wedding, so we didn’t tell many people, just our moms so they wouldn’t kill us if they found out after the fact.
It was a celebration of our relationship as a couple, but also about surviving the first year of parenthood together.
After we welcomed our son into the world and got through the first few months of parenthood where you can barely string together a coherent sentence, let alone make sound decisions about the future, we started to plan our wedding. Since we had just had a child and I made the last-minute decision to not return to work after my maternity leave, we were not exactly swimming in money and had to plan accordingly. We decided to have our wedding in my mom’s backyard, the day before our son’s first birthday — it was a celebration of our relationship as a couple, but also about surviving the first year of parenthood together.
As the big day drew closer, I realized why people generally get married before they have a child: planning a wedding takes a lot of time and effort that, as a new mom, I didn’t really have. My mom became our unofficial wedding planner, vetting DJs, hiring the food trucks that would feed our guests, and making sure I invited all the cousins and distant relatives who would feel snubbed if they had not been invited. I was distracted, but managed to get my act together to get a playlist to the DJ, find some cake inspo on Pinterest and pick out our wedding favors in time for the big day.
They both managed to hold it together without having a meltdown or pushing the other one out of the car.
My brother, who got ordained online to “marry” us, even though we were already technically married, walked me down the aisle to Andrew Bird. My mother-in-law wheeled our son the ring-bearer and my best friend’s daughter (our flower girl) down the aisle, and they both managed to hold it together without having a meltdown or pushing the other one out of the car.
As I listened to my brother’s speech about how far we had come as a couple and our love and dedication for one another, I couldn’t help but see the beauty in the way our life had played out. We had survived an entire year of parenthood together, and we were there in front of our family and friends to say “I still choose you, even though I have seen you at your tiredest, your messiest and your most vulnerable — you’re still the one I want to do life with.”
It wound up being, hands down, the best night of my life. We danced to some of our favorite songs, posed for photos with friends and family in the photobooth and had ice cream from the ice cream truck parked in my mom's driveway for dessert. It was the first time we really got to have fun together as a couple since our son had been born, and it was refreshing and life affirming to know “we” were still in there, we could still have fun together. It may not have been the wedding I always dreamed of when I was a little girl, and I may have had to take a break from dancing to LCD Sound system to put my kid to bed, but it was perfect, even better than I could have ever imagined.