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The Real Peril of Putting Carriage Before Marriage

Photograph by Getty Images

It’s no secret that my fiancé and I had our daughter out of wedlock. Most people have been cool with it, and I don’t think our child, relationship, or society-at-large have suffered for our jumping the gun. However, I have discovered that there is one serious problem with making a baby before getting married, and here it is:

If you already have a baby, planning your wedding is a real bitch.

RELATED: Family First, Marriage Later?

I got engaged right after my daughter was born. For the first year of her life, I couldn’t even think about the big day. There were no bridal magazines in the baby trenches—just Sandra Boynton board books. We finally forced ourselves to set a date (our daughter will be 3-and-a-half when she walks down the aisle as our flower girl) and now that I’m in the thick of planning, there’s been one kid-related headache after another.

Here are some wedding planning steps that are WAY more challenging with a toddler in tow.

Finding a Venue

Unlike my brother and sister-in-law, who spent one super-charged weekend touring eight different venues, it took us almost a year to find our wedding location. That’s because as parents, we were working around nap schedules, meal times and a kid who really hates the car. When we did visit a venue, only one of us got to see it since the other was racing around making sure our toddler didn’t fall off a mountaintop or bang her head on the dance floor. That second thing actually happened.

Wedding Dress Shopping

Shocking though this may seem, most bridal boutiques do not want a sticky-fingered toddler running around their emporiums of overpriced white gowns. I’ve tried to shop when Daddy could be home with our kid, but a few times I’ve had to throw babysitter money at the problem, which is a wedding budget line item most brides aren’t worrying about.

The first time I met with a florist, I arrived with a naked child.

The second problem with wedding dress shopping, and it’s a big one (get it?), is that I still haven’t lost the baby weight. If anything, I’ve packed on some extra pounds from eating too much leftover macaroni & cheese. This means the bridal shop ladies are clamping me into dresses instead of zipping them. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize what I’d really look like walking down the aisle, especially after I shrink back down to my normal size in time for the wedding. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING.

Meeting with Vendors

The first time I met with a florist, I arrived with a naked child. That’s because my poor carsick little girl threw up twice on the freeway and I’d only brought one change of clothes. Of course, that was definitely less awkward than changing an explosive poopy diaper on the floor of a pristine photographer’s studio just before reviewing his wedding albums.

Bridal Beauty

We’re all raised on this idea that a bride looks more beautiful on her wedding day than any other day in her life. That’s all well and good until you bring a small child into the mix. Blushing bride? How about dark circles under the eyes bride? When I see a picture of myself these days, I look tired. Happy, but tired. I doubt that’s going to change much before the wedding, so I’ll just be grateful for makeup and Photoshop.

The Honeymoon

I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’ve yet to spend one night away from my kid. This is no badge of honor—frankly I’m dying for a little time off—but I know it won’t be the two-weeks-in-Bali honeymoon extravaganza we might have planned pre-baby. My daughter’s not ready for that kind of separation and neither am I. When my husband-to-be and I do get away together, I will be really excited to catch up on three years of sleep reconnect as a couple.

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In the end, none of these bumps in the road to wedlock will matter. I’m marrying the man I love, who is already the father of my child. And maybe all the distractions of motherhood will keep me from getting too nervous or Bridezilla-like ... unless my daughter needs a snuggle right before the ceremony, and she’s got jelly hands.

Who am I kidding, that is totally going to happen.

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