I seem to have a knack for doing things backwards. Where most people choose a career, go to college, and then get a related job, I went to college, got a totally unrelated job, and then decided what career I would actually like.
Where most people meet a guy, fall in love, get married, and have kids, I met a guy, fell in love, had kids, went through relationship difficulties, fell in love again, and finally got engaged (watch from about 4 minutes). And now, ten years and two children after meeting my soul mate, I am less than five weeks away from marrying him.
The benefit of having done things in reverse is that this way, I get to have my kids in my wedding party. They are going to be adorable. My soon-to-be mother-in-law, who has created a masterpiece of a wedding dress for me, is making matching suits for the boys, which they will wear as they walk down the aisle as ring-bearers.
It’s not quite as simple as it sounds, though. I realize that anytime you include children in a wedding party, you should be prepared for the unexpected, but where my kids are concerned, there are some extra challenges…
James (5) is a highly energetic child who never stops talking. He’s probably going to try breakdancing down the aisle while he offers the congregation a running commentary about Roary the Racing Car. But, with plenty of practice and some high-quality bribery, I think he will do all right.
We are going to need a lot more coordinated planning to get George (7) through the day. Because of his autism, he has a very hard time with changes in routine, and he’s going to have to deal with plenty of that in the days leading up to the wedding. There will be out-of-town guests arriving, people who George is unfamiliar with trooping around the house, and frenetic levels of activity as last-minute details get worked out. It will be a lot for him to handle, and that’s before we even get to the chaos of the wedding day itself.
On paper, this looks like a disaster waiting to happen, but we have strategies in place to mitigate the risks.
I know, I know. It sounds as if I am planning a military maneuver. And actually, that’s not far from the truth.
Fairly early in the planning, we realized that we would need to hire a respite worker to take charge of George for the day. Not only for the wedding itself, but for the time during which I will be getting my hair and makeup done, getting dressed, and having a nervous breakdown. I’ll be a little busy. I will need someone else to take on the task of attending to the basic needs of my children.
The respite worker will also be charged with the responsibility of making sure the boys make it from one end of the aisle to the other without breaking something or yelling out “Daddy is a rabbit!” We have it all worked out: when the time comes to exchange rings, the respite worker will walk down the aisle, with the boys on either side of her. We haven’t finished planning out exactly what will happen with the boys after they have presented the rings, but we’ll have to think of something: George in particular is not likely to just stand there patiently while we sign the registry.
Prior to the day, there will be multiple practice runs. We will not have access to the actual aisle until the day of the formal rehearsal, so we will have to make do with the hallway in our house. We will have the boys wearing their wedding day outfits, walking down the hallway with the respite worker, and handing us the rings (for the practice runs, they will not be using the actual rings, but rather, Lightning McQueen ones that came from cupcakes).
We may even have a chat with our minister and ask him if he would let us have a few minutes in the church when no-one is using it. The minister knows that George has autism. He will understand the need for us to introduce George to the church ahead of time.
At the end of the day, though, there’s only so much we will be able to do. We can come up with all of the plans and backup plans and contingencies in the world – something could still happen that no-one expects. For all we know, it could be George who behaves perfectly, and James who has the meltdown. Experience has taught me that the more I plan for disaster, the less that disaster is likely to happen.
Somehow I will make it through these last few weeks and get to my wedding day without going completely loony in the head. I just know that the day will be amazing and special, made all the more magical by the presence of my beautiful children.
Have you ever attended or participated in a wedding where kids were members of the bridal party? What was that experience like?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Kirsten Jessiman of Toronto, Canada. Kirsten can also be found on her blog, Running for Autism.
Photo credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisada/2638368902. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.