Need a reality check I think?
edited October 2019
I really hope I can ease some of your stress and worries. Here goes!
1) You do sound caught in the middle of wanting to be super supportive but also fulfilling that dream you have of a perfect night. Here's what I would suggest:
- Put the hens and bucks nights on different nights. This way dads can look after the babies on the night of your hens and mums can have them on the bucks. This might help to solve issues of mums having to leave early.
- If they are using formula, drinking is entirely on the cards - they might even be looking forward to a wild night away from bub when the time comes around! So all "hope" isn't lost there.
- If they are breast-feeding alcohol is a different story (to my understanding, I'm not a mum). But I'm sure they will still be more than eager to have a fun night and support you, as long as you are also equally supportive of them.
- If it's looking like more of a non-drinking event, then why not plan a "boozy" night for a few months after when the babies are a little older? Tell the girls you understand they may not be able to drink, but ask if they'd be open to having a belated boozy hens when they are ready! Get dressed up, pretend it's the night before your wedding and turn it into a funny "make-up" night.
1b) Bridesmaid dresses - you can always add panels in the sides to widen in most dress designs, it depends on the dress. If you know a good seamstress or an alterations place you trust, take the dresses and speak to them about your concerns and get some ideas and solutions on the table IN CASE they don't fit. Maybe the backs can be let out, maybe you can introduce some shoals... Just a few options so you don't feel as stressed in the event that it does happen.
2) Speak to your venue about having a "baby room". I know some hotels do this. A spare room really close by with a professional babysitter who can look after babies, but parents can still visit if they need to. Sure mums can remove the babies from there if they want, but this way they don't have to worry if baby is ok with the sitter at home, they can just walk next door and check in! It can help to keep everyone relaxed and present on the night.
3) Sorry about your bouquets
perhaps you could ask your mum to make you something small you could have in a hair piece, or on your bridal table, or that you can insert into a different bouquet so you still feel a bit of her in them?
4) EVERYONE WORRIES ABOUT THIS! It's the jitters of a host! It's totally natural! This is the biggest "party" you'll probably ever throw and it's normal to feel concerned. I like to think that as long as you can make people comfortable, fed and full of drink they will have a good time. Most people will talk the night away or dance, or just generally wander and have a good time. Try not to worry about having lots for people to do or if there's enough to keep them busy.
Think back to any weddings you may have attended. What did you do? Did you feel bored? Was there a contributing factor (i.e. you didn't know many people or the DJ wasn't great at engaging the guests)? Maybe add in a little something extra for people to do or look at if you are really worried. Like a magician for the cocktail hour (best friend had this and it was the highlight of everyone's night and kept everybody talking!). What about a wall full of cute baby photos of you and your partner? But again, everyone will find things to amuse themselves with. And if they are honestly going to complain about a wedding being dull, maybe they aren't worth inviting.
5) Wrangle those bridesmaids, mum, mother in law, partner, groomsmen... Get them to help with suggestions and ideas to take the load off. "Ok everyone, I was wondering if anyone has any great ideas for centrepieces! If you have the time, I'd love to see something you think might be a cool option to match our theme!" Let them feel involved and keep it light and fun. Then you have a little bit of work done for you and it might help to bring back some of the excitement amongst the chaos. Studies should take priority, so don't be afraid to delegate, as long as you make sure you ASK don't TELL, be aware of not sounding pushy or ungrateful.
I was very worried about being anxious of things going wrong for my wedding. As a result, at one point we decided to elope privately before the "actual" wedding with just the MOH and BM. That way during the "actual" wedding, if things went wrong, I would know I still had my beautiful partner with me and the pressure of the "big day" would be somewhat lifted. I've since become a lot more comfortable and we've called off that idea for several reasons (the would-be celebrant for the "actual" wedding ceremony is now NC, the time frames for things have changed, etc.) This might not be something for you, but maybe have a think on it. Have the best of both worlds with an elopement and a less stressful "wedding day" later with everyone else. Hell, no one even needs to know!
I hope this helps you in at least some little way xxx