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Outfits Not Just Clothes ...
To Bring the Baby or Not to Bring the Baby: Wedding Edition
By bernadette Ulsamer

Not to brag, but I’m an awesome wedding guest! I show up on time, I dress up, but not to outshine the bride. I buy gifts off the registry or give cash, have ones ready for the dollar dance. I listen to the speeches, take pics and only post them if approved by the people in them; I dance, and always compliment the couple. Plus, I’m no slouch when it comes to being a bridesmaid/wedding attendant. And, if you need someone to do a reading, MC the reception, or give a speech I’m your gal! Recently, at a family wedding I was able to test out my wedding-guest skills as a new parent bringing along my seven-month old daughter. This being my first time at the rodeo, so to speak, I’m no expert, but I definitely learned some important wedding-related lessons when it comes to bringing along the baby.
  First, make sure the baby/kids are actually invited before wrestling them into their dress clothes. Fortunately our baby’s name was included on the invite AND she even had her own chair at the table at the reception. Luckily, she was not the only, or youngest baby there. This was definitely a kid-friendly event, which was a perfect chance for me to show off my girl to aunts, uncles, and cousins who haven’t seen her since she was a newborn. In a few months I’m going to another family wedding, this time the reception card clearly stated this was an adults-only function. So, if the invite doesn’t say one way or the other, then definitely contact the couple to see if the little ones are welcome.
  Speaking of dress clothes, be strategic in your choice of outfit for both yourself and your baby. I made the mistake of wearing a somewhat low-cut dress, that become downright revealing when holding the baby as she grabbed at my necklace and squirmed around. Besides exposure, you also want to be careful that you don’t wear your very best dress. As many new moms figure out pretty quick, clothes they don’t want to get ruined by baby slobber, spit-up, and dirty diapers are best left in the closet. So, be sure to wear something durable, machine washable, dark (to hide the stains until you get home), and something you don’t mind having to toss if it’s ruined beyond repair. For baby, feel free to dress them to the nines, since they’ll be seen by a lot of people. But, be sure to have an equally cute backup outfit in case they soil the original, and be ready with a plastic bag to “store” the dirty clothes to deal with when you get home.
  Regardless, of what baby wears everyone will want to hold, tickle, poke, touch, and kiss your baby. And why wouldn’t they your baby is adorable! So, if you’re child doesn’t do well with new people, or being “passed around” then either make up a polite excuse of why they can’t hold/touch your baby i.e. “getting over a cold, just had shots, is teething/extra fussy” or simply say they don’t like to be touched by unfamiliar people. If your child isn’t that social, and doesn’t like larger groups then be on the lookout for the inevitable melt down, and have a plan in place to remove your baby and/or leave the event all together.
  Of course, if your baby is on the social side and doesn’t mind being held by other people, it will make the party a whole lot more fun for you. Why? Because then you can dance, visit with friends and family, go up to the bar and food trays without having to either lug your baby around, or worry that they’re safe in the carrier where you left them. The fun factor is another important consideration when planning to bring baby to a wedding. If you know you’ll end up spending most of the time caring for your little one, and not really “free” to enjoy yourself, then even if the children are encouraged to come, you may want to make other arrangements. Especially, if it’s been awhile since you’ve had some adult time. Socializing with friends and family, or better yet brand new people can be a very welcome break from mommy-mode. Plus, think of this a free-ish date night for you and your spouse!

  Finally, set up realistic expectations/timelines. If the wedding starts near, or around naptime, plan ahead and get your baby down for a nap well before it’s time to get ready and go. Same thing for bedtime. If the party goes well after dark, then plan to leave early. Bring along bottles and food, and try to stick to regular meal/feeding times as much as you can. For nursing mothers check the venue to see if there is any private area you can use to feed your baby, granted the bathroom is always an option, but not ideal, nor is the car out in the parking lot. If you don’t feel you can nurse privately then consider upping your pumping output, I know—easier said than done. Have toys at the ready to distract, or calm your baby. Of course you don’t want to bring the whole nursery, so keep you it small. And don’t forget extra diapers and wipes! Besides the diaper bag, we’ve started keeping a set of diapers and wipes in the car and believe me, it’s come in handy.
  So, if you’re feeling up to the challenge of the prep-work and it is a kid-friendly event, then by all means yes bring the baby to a wedding. However, if you just need a break, then don’t feel bad leaving them at home with a sitter. For our next wedding in September we’re have a sitter lined up and may even get a room! Momma’s going to have a night out!


The Bookworm Sez
By Terri Schilichenmeyer

“Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches” by Marcia A. Zug
c.2016, New York University Press
$30.00 / higher in Canada
305 pages

Your package finally arrived.
  You placed the order weeks ago, and the waiting began. Every day, you checked your mailbox, certain that it would come, and you were disappointed… until today.  Now your package arrived, you have what you wanted and, as you’ll see in “Buying a Bride” by Marcia A. Zug, that can be a life-changing thing.
  It was 1619, and the Virginia colony of Jamestown was in a bad way.
  As if the normal hardships – cold, hunger, injuries – weren’t enough, the colonists were facing one thing that literally made them abandon their communities: there was a serious shortage of women.
Relief was on its way: “a handful” of women arrived via ship to the colonies that year and more came in 1620. By then, though, many Englishmen had already taken Indian wives, a desertion that was deemed a crime punishable by death.
  Still, the need was great for women in the New World and it was beneficial for them to emigrate. Life was harder, yes, but they were allowed property rights in America, which they didn’t have in England. They had “significant power” in new marriages, including better say in who they wed. French “Filles du Roi” learned that going to Canada was a better deal than staying home; even noblewomen took advantage of the opportunity to emigrate and seize a better life.
  As the West was settled by (mostly) male adventurers and fortune hunters, it became important for women to follow them as laborers and, eventually, as wives. Employment opportunities were wide open, and individual states gave women additional rights they didn’t see in eastern America. Canadian brides were able to “surmount class barriers.” By the end of the Civil War, being a mail-order bride was common; indeed, with a then-lack of men, it was sometimes the only way a young woman might marry at all. Even African American women took the mail plunge.
  But as immigration policies changed and the notion of love took hold, mail-order mating soured in favor of knowing a partner, first-hand. By 1959, meeting through the mail was “no longer necessary” and was often perceived negatively.
  And then came the internet….
  So how did you meet your beloved?  These days, if you say “online,” almost nobody blinks anymore. If you said “by mail,” well, that’s a different story, and “Buying a Bride” explains why.
  Surprised, she says, by the advantages women got from “mail-order” relationships (which she defines in her introduction), author Marcia A. Zug explains how North America would look very different, if not for the women who left home to become wives and mothers in unknown territory and unfamiliar cultures. Zug tells these women’s stories with a lighthearted hand, while keeping a strong flavor of adventure in them – even the modern ones, as she brings readers up-to-date.  
  If everything old is new again, we’ve borrowed from the past, and your love is filled with blue skies, then this’ll be a fun book to read. For historians and romantics both, “Buying a Bride” is the total package.


 
 
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