If you are marrying a man or a woman who already has children from a previous marriage or relationship, you may be familiar with the added complications that can arise from a stepchild's fear that he will be forgotten in the bloom of a parent's new love. As a stepparent, one of the best ways to counteract this fear is to include your stepchildren in your wedding ceremony. In this way, you can clearly communicate to them that you are not just marrying their parent, you are marrying them as well and that you consider them part of your family and as important a part as their mother or father. In this article, we will discuss how to incorporate stepchildren into your wedding vows.
Add their names to the traditional service. If you are not writing your own vows, then simply add the stepchildren's names after your spouse's name. For example, instead of saying, "I, Jane, take you, Bob, to be my lawfully wedded husband," say, "I, Jane, take you, Bob, to be my lawfully wedded husband and your children, Suzy and Robbie, to love as if they were my own." Then you can continue with the rest of the ceremony.
Incorporate a special inside joke for each child into your vows. This may take some thought, and if you have not spent much time with the stepchildren then it might not be possible; however, if you have had fun together in a silly way, figure out a way to refer to it during your vows. For example, you might say, "Bob, I take you as my husband to love and cherish as long as I live. Furthermore, I take your children, Suzy and Robbie, to do the chicken dance with whenever I please." This will help them feel included while reminding them of a good or silly time that you have had together as a family.
Address the stepchildren directly with your clear intentions. This technique works best if they are actually in the wedding so that you can turn and look at them while you speak. For example, you might say, "Bob, I will love you (look at Bob), and Suzy (turn and look at Suzy) and Robbie (look directly at Robbie) with my whole heart for my whole life." This allows you to enter into a contract directly with your stepchildren as well as with your spouse.
Thank them for sharing their parent. This can be done in the vows or as a toast. For example, you might say at the end of your speech to your spouse, "Robbie and Suzy, I just want to thank you for sharing your father and your own lives with me. I can't wait for each day knowing that all three of you will be in it with me."
Make eye contact. While you are speaking, make sure that you meet each stepchild's eyes so that he knows you consider him part of this legal and religious ceremony. Even if you do not address the children directly, make clear eye contact when you refer to them even if you have to turn around and face the congregation to do it.
Offer each stepchild a small trinket during the ring exchange part of the ceremony. Necklaces are most common, but it could be anything that the child can wear or use on a regular basis.
It may be best to discuss your plans with the other parent of the children if he or she will be invited to the wedding.
If your relationship with the stepchildren is especially strained, it may be best to acknowledge them without completely including them to avoid a potentially embarrassing scene.