Wedding vows for blended families: Kids say, "We do, too!"

By on May. 9th
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Cara says: "Not only were my husband's children in my wedding party, I also wrote and declared my vows to them during our ceremony, as well as had a fun choreographed dance with them at the reception."

Realistically, every wedding is a blending of two families, but in no situation is this mixing of families more clear than when the one (or both!) halves of the couple have children from past relationships.

Over the years, we've seen lots of really lovely ways that some couples have chosen to include children in blended family weddings, but we've never featured the vows that were spoken.

Obviously, doing blended family kid vows won't be a fit for everyone wedding or every family situation.

For those of you looking for specific wording ideas for blended family ceremonies, I've enlisted the help of four Offbeat Bride-approved officiants, asking them to share wording for blended family vows that they've written.

(Plus, we've got one batch of bonus vows from an Offbeat Bride Tribe member!)

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Maureen & Ian said: 'We really wanted to signify that we were officially a family, so, after we kissed as husband and wife, we gathered together as a family and all flashed an official family double thumbs up.' Photo by Photo Pink

Shyamala Littlefield from Ceremonies For Sacred DaysThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them (Bay Area, CA)

All names have been changed

Photo by Victor Sizemore, courtesy of Shyamala Littlefield


Officiant: These sacred vows are not just between Maddy and Joe because you will not only be a new couple, you will be a new family. So Tina and Missy, will you please join us now for the special family rites of this wedding.

[Maddy and Joe turn to face girls as they stand in front of them. Maddy speaks as Joe puts heart necklaces on the girls]

Kids: "Thank you for sharing Daddy with me, loving me and allowing me to love you with all of my heart. I was not there when you took your first steps, but I promise that now I will love and support you in every step that you take in your life. These necklaces are a symbol of our love and devotion to the two of you.

I love you, Tina and I am devoted to making your life full of happiness and accomplishments, nurturing your creativity, encouraging your independence, and making sure you always know what a gift you are to this world.
I love you, Missy and I am devoted to making your life full of happiness and accomplishments, ensuring that you thrive to your fullest potential, and that while you reach for the sky, you remain grounded by the love of our family and our home."

Officiant: Girls, please come stand by me as we marry Daddy and Maddy. We want you to have a front row seat.

Joe and Maddy, please join hands and face each other so that you can look into each other's eyes and see the beauty of what is about to happen.

Missy, please hand this ring to your Dad to give to Maddy.

Joe, please place this ring on Maddy's finger and hold it there as you repeat after me:
I give you my promise to be by your side forevermore.
I promise to love, to honor, and to listen as you tell me of your thoughts, your hopes, your fears, and your dreams.
I promise to love you deeply and truly because it is your heart that moves me, your head that challenges me,
your humor that delights me,
and your hands I wish to hold until the end of my days.

Tina, please give this ring to Maddy to give to your Dad.
Maddy, please place this ring on Joe's finger and hold it there as you repeat after me:
I give you my promise to be by your side forevermore.
I promise to love, to honor, and to listen as you tell me of your thoughts, your hopes, your fears, and your dreams.
I promise to love you deeply and truly because it is your heart that moves me, your head that challenges me,
your humor that delights me,
and your hands I wish to hold until the end of my days.

May all your days be filled with joy and happiness. It is my honor and great pleasure and by the power vested in me by the state of California, that I now pronounce you husband and wife.

You may kiss your beautiful bride and she may kiss you back.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you for the very first time – the Stranger family – Joe, Maddy, Tina and Missy

[Wedding couple and girls exit down aisle.]

Photo by Pixie Rouge Photography

Photo by Pixie Rouge Photography. See more photos from this wedding.

Jessie Blum from Eclectic UnionsThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them (New Jersey)

Including kids in your vows is a really sweet and easy way to show the blending of two families together, without being as "in your face" as a unity ritual. It also helps to show that you are accepting your partner fully – not just them, but their children, too – and can help to make the promises that are the real heart of the wedding even more meaningful and special.

This is a favorite example of mine that can be used by either or both partners. There are some great lines in this vow that can be taken out and placed with personal vows, edited to become I DOs, or simply personalized more towards the couple, too:

As the two of us are joined on this day, we become part of each other:
your feelings become my feelings;
your sorrows become my sorrows;
your joys become my joys;
your cares become my cares,
and your children become my children.
With your help and guidance I promise to be a true and faithful spouse / wife / husband and parent,
always there to comfort you, rejoice with you,
and endure all the complexities of life that we will face together as a family.
My love for you and your/our child/ren is pure and unshakable,
and I hereby commit myself to all of you from this day forward.

When there are kids from previous relationships involved, I think having one or both of the partners pledge to take on their new role as a parent – not just as a husband, wife, or spouse. Even if there is only one partner's child or children involved, I think it is nice to have both the parent and the new step-parent celebrate their role as "parents," together – this can also be a nice moment for a kid in the ceremony. You know the old adage – you're not losing a parent, you're gaining a step-parent – but actually having part of the vows be a moment for the current parent to re-declare their commitment to their child, in a very subtle way, can be such a nice and comforting touch.

When it comes to blended family vows, a lot can be said or spoken by the couple – they can declare not only their love for each other, but their love for their family – but it is in the best interest of the kids to NOT have them speak or take vows themselves, unless they were the ones who came up with the suggestion to do so. We want kids to simply be open vessels, accepting all of this love and support from their family and their new family, and we don't want to coerce them into doing anything that they may not feel 100% comfortable with, but are just doing to make their mom or dad happy.


Family Blending Ritual, as Performed by Secular Officiant Frank HarlanThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them (Seattle)

Photo courtesy of Frank Harlan

As a Secular Officiant I am always on the lookout for fresh ideas and creating content that serves the purpose of supporting religion-free life-cycle rituals. Seeing what is available has really made it easy for me to reject the standard formula-like Unity Rituals and create my own. Generally, I'm not inclined to post my ceremony scripts online, but when it comes to this element as part of a contemporary wedding celebration, I am willing to share.

Plus, as a married man who was a single father with a daughter for 13 years, I saw how incorporating this ritual into our wedding ceremony truly unified our family unit.

Below is the Outline I use for scripting a Family Blending Ritual. I usually place it after the Exchange of Rings. To make a ritual like this magical, emotional and memorable you need to invest a little bit of time writing it. Answer the questions and it becomes the script. I have included content notes and scripting I created recently for a wedding ceremony where the groom was a single dad with a son.

1. Invite Child (or Children) to stand with their parent
Officiant: Let it be known that [Groom and Bride] do not enter this commitment alone. [Groom] brings with him an amazing and vibrant 13 year old son… [Child's First Name], will you please come forward and stand between your Father and [Partner]. Over the years, the three of you have gotten to know each other; sharing meals, hanging out, and just spending time together. You have successfully melded into a modern-day family.

Today [Child's Name], your support to this marriage is clear. [Bride] joins this family circle as your father's wife, as a friend that you can count on and a woman who loves both of you very much.

2. Introduction of the child/children through the words of parent and partner.
Officiant: I would like to tell all of you some things that [Groom] and [Partner] think all of you should know about this amazing young person…[Child's Full Birth Name]

Your Father tells me…
(Three qualities Father recognizes and/or admires about his child)

And [Partner] shared with me that…
(Three qualities [Partner] recognizes and/or admires about the child)

3. Commemorative Gift (bestowed on the child/children by the couple. Examples: necklace with birth stone, bracelet, family heirloom.)
Officiant: As a way to commemorate this momentous occasion, your Father and [Partner] have a gift for you, and they would like to present it to you now, is that okay?

[Parents give gift to child; if jewelry, put it on them. Whatever it is, tell the guests]
4. Vows: to Child from Both Adults (Parent / Partner will need to write these.)
Officiant: [Groom], [Bride] and [Child] would you please join hands to form your family circle?

[Groom/Father] repeat after me…
[Child], I want you to know how lucky I feel every day just knowing you. You are the energy that flows through my veins. You inspire me and I can't imagine the man that I would have become without you in my life. Thank you for accepting Bride into our world. Nobody knows more than you how she has been there for both of us. You are an amazing young man and an honorable human being that I am proud to call my son. I love you.

[Bride] repeat after me…
[Child], I have known you since the day you were born. . . You and your father are the people who know me best in this world, the people I eat with every day, the first I see in the morning and the last at night. The two of you are my strength and my world. We are the fearsome threesome, and I consider you to be one of the most important people in my life. I love you.

4.1 Vows: Three Promises Adults and Child
Officiant: [Groom], [Bride] and [Child] would you please join hands to form your family circle? I am going to ask all of you 3 questions. I would like all of you to answer each of them with, "I Promise!"

Do you promise to love, respect and protect each other from this day forward?
All 3: "I Promise!"

Do you promise to always try to be the best person you can be?
All 3: "I Promise!"

Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being a family, and encourage, and support each other in your new life together?
All 3: "I Promise!"

4.2 Vows: Three Promises from the Children
(When both partners have children these are promises the kids make to the Family Unit. The couple usually creates the questions so that they relate to their children. Kids are standing with their parents).

Officiant: [Kid A], [Kid B] and [Kid C], I am going to ask you 3 questions. I would like all of you to answer each of them with, "I Promise!"

Do you promise to be tolerant, respectful and accepting of each other's differences?
KIDS: "I Promise!"

Do you promise to always work out disagreements so that your friendships can grow stronger?
KIDS: "I Promise!"

Do you promise to keep your rooms clean and the dirty dishes out of the basement?"
KIDS: "I Promise!"

5. Family Blessing (I always close the ritual with blessings for the family and a group hug before asking the child/children to return to their seats).

Officiant: I ask that your home be a place of happiness for all who enter it, and a place where the old and the young are renewed in each others' company, a place for growing, a place for music and celebration, a place for laughter and goofing off.

And when life seems to be too much or you just had a rough day, may your home always be a place of refuge where every one of you can find the comfort of always knowing that you will be accepted and loved unconditionally.


Merrilyn Williams from CelebrateLife!They ♥ OBB; we ♥ them (Australia)

These vows include many options, including when only one partner who has kids, and even children feeling alienated and distressed.

ACKNOWLEDGING FAMILY
This is a formal 'Welcome to the Family' because the marriage formalizes their relationships with each other and with their children – husband, wife, step-parents, step -brothers and step-sisters. I include an introduction where I mention that the couple, in marrying one another, has accepted responsibility of providing a safe and healthy home not just for each other, or just their own children, but now also for their partner's children.

[Names of children], [bride] and [groom] welcome you into the new family. They would like to make some special promises to each of you, because you are very important people in their lives. They would also like to remind you that their loving commitment to one another opens up a whole new world of people who will become your family …people who will love you and care about you and help you to find your way in the world. And so on your behalf, I will ask them:

Bride and groom, will you continue to love and support the children? Will you make the time to listen to them, cherish and guide them? Will you show them respect, kindness, tolerance and honesty? Acknowledging the past, will you respect the unseen ties that bind them? Will you provide a safe and loving and caring home where each
child is encouraged to develop their own unique qualities, in the knowledge that they will always be loved and valued for themselves? Will you make these promises lovingly and freely?

[They respond: We will / yes.]

FAMILY BLENDING
Bride and groom, you have declared your love for each other. In your decision to spend the rest of your lives together you have accepted the responsibilities of parenthood towards each other's children from other important relationships. You have established a home where each child finds love, security and acceptance. As part of your love for each other, I now ask you to make your promises to them.

[Children's names], we promise to love and support you
to be there for you
to listen to you and respect you
to cherish and guide you
to help you learn right from wrong
to show you how to respect others and the world around you
to be there when you need us
and to give you love and make you part of our new family

One partner has a child
The former partners of this couple had died and so the bride and groom wanted to acknowledge the new family arrangements. I wrote these words and spoke to the three-year-old on their behalf after they'd made their promises to him.

[Child's name], you are a very important and special person in your family. You are the much loved biological son of [Mother] and [Father], and soon you will be legally adopted by [Step-parent] and take his name along with your [Father's family name]. One-day you will appreciate that these are the greatest gifts a man can give: his family name will give you security and identity and a sense of belonging. The promises he has made to love and support your mother, and to love and nurture you as his own child, will provide a strong foundation as you grow to adulthood.

Incorporating the Flower Ritual (optional)
Please note: the text in this section below has been adapted from Weddings: The Magic of Creating Your Own Ceremony.

Marcelene Cox wrote these words about children.

Children in a family
are like flowers in a bouquet:
there's always one determined
to face in the opposite direction
from the way the arranger desires.

1.
On the table is a vase containing two flowers representing bride and groom as the parents in this new family. Lying next to the vase are single flowers – one for each of the children. I'd like to invite [names of children] to take a flower and place it in the vase. Together all the flowers will make a bouquet which symbolises the wonder and
beauty of the birth of this new family.

2.
Bride and groom, you are combining your strengths and hopes in this marriage. Your decision to marry will also shape and deeply affect the lives of [children's names]. Today we acknowledge and celebrate not only the creation of a marriage, but also the creation of a family. Each of you will contribute your individual blossoms to this new
entity, combining your special selves into a rich and beautiful bouquet to symbolise the new family. Bride and groom and then the children each place their flower in the vase.

PROMISES TO YOUR OWN CHILD/REN
Bride and groom, as you make your vows to each other, with the promise of love and companionship for one another, will you also do the same for name/s? Will you promise to honour and respect her/him/them as an individual and guide her/his/their growth and development? Will you pledge to cherish her/him/them, encourage her/him/them, and make your home a place where there is trust, love, friendship and laughter? Will you hold her/his/their hand through her/his/their mistakes rather than preventing her/him/them from making them? Will you promise to show her/him/them how to find happiness rather than tell her/him them? Will you make these promises to
name lovingly and freely?

[Response: Yes.]

And will you do the same for any other children you may bring into the world as her/his siblings?

[Response: Yes.]

And for those children who no longer live with you, will your door always be open for them?

[Response: Yes.]

Name/s, bride and groom have a gift for you to remind you of this special day. The gifts are given and opened on the spot.

In absentia promises to children who may feel alienated

Bride and groom, as you make your vows to each other, with the promise of love and companionship for one another, will you also do the same in your new life for [Child's Name]?

Even though he/she lives apart from you, will your door and your hearts always be open to him/her? Will you honour and respect him/her as an individual and be there for him/her when he/she feels ready be part of your family? Will you encourage him/her to make his/her own decisions and make your home a welcoming place where there is trust, love, friendship and laughter? Will you make these promises to name lovingly and freely?

[Response: We will.]

Possible readings for children to do:

A FAMILY
A family is a place where you can cry and laugh,
and be silly, or sad, or cross, where you can ask for help,
and tease and yell at each other, and know that you will always be loved.

A family is made up of people who care about you when you are sad,
who love you all the time, no matter what, and who share your good times.
They don't expect you to be perfect,
but just want you to try to be the best you can be.

A family is a safe place like a circle,
where we learn to like ourselves,
where we learn about making good choices,
where we learn to think about things before we do them,
where we learn to be honest, and to have table manners,

and respect for other people,
where we are special, where we share ideas,
where we listen to them and they listen to us,
where we learn the rules of life to prepare ourselves for the world.

The world is a place where anything can happen.
If we grow up in a loving family… like our family
we are ready for the world.
-Unknown author

If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections,
held together but separable – each segment distinct.
-Letty Cottin Pogrebin


Vows to Children, by Offbeat Bride reader, Serendipidy

My future husband and I wanted to include our children as well. We've included them in the ceremony, at a point not long before we begin exchanging our vows. It's what I call the "Vows to Children":

(Celebrant invites the child/children to stand beside their parent, The Bride picks up the ceremony items… usually a basket containing the vows and gift items)

Celebrant: The Circle of Family is not made by blood alone, but by love, respect and commitment as well. Indeed, a Circle of Family made by choice can be as strong or stronger than that of blood. As we honor each other and the choices we make, we, in turn, honor ourselves. When we honor ourselves, we honor the Divine Spirit that lives within us all. Let mutual love and respect be the foundation of this family by acknowledging the value of each others choices. It is by the union of (Bride) and (Groom) that this family is made. Let them be as one, to sing and dance together, laugh and cry together, live, love, and grow together. Let no secrets divide the Circle of Family.

VOWS AND GIFTS TO THE CHILDREN

(Bride takes vows from basket, hands basket to Groom)

Bride: (Name Groom's child/children), I promise always to treat you with love and respect. I promise to foster my relationship with you and always to be there for you in any way I can. I promise to support you in your relationship with both your mother and your father and I promise always to listen to you, strengthening our relationship as time moves forward. I promise always to treat your father with love and respect and model for you a healthy, loving and supportive relationship in the belief that one day you too will find such happiness in love.

Celebrant: (Bride), Do you bring tokens of your love that are symbolic of your commitment to (Child/children's names)?

Bride: I do. (Bride takes tokens from basket, places the item on the child or hands the item to the child) Please accept these gifts as a symbol of my love for you and the bond we create today as we join together as a family.

(Repeat same with Groom if Bride has children. Children return to their seats)

Let's do some crowd-sourcing! Please share your vow inspiration for blended family ceremonies in the comments.

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