Wedding vows for blended families: Kids say, "We do, too!" #Ceremony Advice#Friends & Family Advice#blended family#ceremony script#family vows#kids#unity ceremony#writing vows May 9 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatbride Photo from Eric and Billi's wedding by ON3Photography 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. Related Post Jonna & Kelsey's garden party wedding with stepmom vows This pair had a strange introduction, but it ended up being something pretty magical in the end. And it all led to this day full... Read more 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!) 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 Days (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. See more photos from this wedding. Jessie Blum from Eclectic Unions (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 step-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 Harlan (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. 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." Merrilyn Williams from CelebrateLife! (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 wedding vow inspiration for blended families in the comments. This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: Ceremonies for Sacred Days Eclectic Unions by Celebrant Jessie Blum Frank Harlan, wedding officiant Merrilyn Williams, CelebrateLife! Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dorks out hard in Seattle, WA. PREVIOUS Paint hearts on the back of your wedding shoes NEXT Anne-Louise & Jon's casually elegant party with bubbles and a tango Show/Hide comments [ 54 ] Wow, all of these made me tear up. I have been thinking and thinking how to best include my daughter in my upcoming wedding and this post is so very timely. 23 agree Reply Oh lord, me too. I don't even have kids and I was getting choked up just reading the first one! These are all so beautiful. 8 agree Reply These are some lovely options for including children in a ceremony. I'll be keeping them in mind as my fiance and I hammer out our ceremony, as we each have a child from a previous relationship. However, I'd also like to stress the importance of making sure (absolutely, 100%, bet your life on it, goddamn certain) that the children in question actually WANT to be involved. My mom made me be in her wedding to my stepfather when I was 14, and it was one of the most hurtful things she ever did to me. I didn't want her to marry him at all, much less for me to be a part of it. Her wedding was the worst day of my life up until that point. I almost said something in the "speak now" portion of the vows, and only didn't because I was too close to tears to keep my voice steady. My stepfather and I now are on great terms, and I think of him as my real father (instead of my mom's first husband, my biological father). But making me be a part of something I didn't want to happen was a shitty thing to do, and no amount of lovely vows or meaningful ceremonies would have made me feel good about it. It only made me feel worse. So just think carefully about involving your kids, especially if you know the kids aren't excited about the marriage in the first place. 30 agree Reply Great point, Allison. Merrilyn touches on this in her vows for "In absentia promises to children who may feel alienated," where she includes wording that acknowledges children that A) may not want to be in the ceremony B) may not even be at the wedding at all. Ultimately, as with most things on Offbeat Bride, different things will feel right to different people. 4 agree Reply This is a good point. I'm getting married in a couple of months, and we're choosing not to incorporate my fiance's 15 year old son into the ceremony very much. He will hand us the rings, and that's it. I think he has yet to address me by name, (and we've been living in the same house for almost a year) and he's been pretty clear that he does not want me to have any kind of semi-parental role in his life at this time, so I don't know what kind of vows I could make or what I could say that wouldn't feel like a lie. Making him be the center of attention in any way or having me make him any promises would just make him uncomfortable, I think. Which is not to say that these vows aren't really lovely, and a great idea if that is a good fit for anyone else's situation. Reply I'm glad you pointed this out Allison. My fiance and I have been trying to figure out ways to incorporate our children into our wedding. (We each have a child from a previous marriage) We decided not to have the kids have any sort of "vows" because they aren't the ones getting married. We are. While we are happy that they both love the fact that we're getting married the reality of it is it isn't their decision or commitment. Past that we asked them how they would like to participate. Both of them came up with roles during the wedding (reading a poem, acting as an usher, being in the wedding party) that would be meaningful to them, and that they are comfortable doing. 6 agree Reply I agree with you, 100%, Allison. My experience is a bit different. When my Mom remarried, I remember crying and squeezing my Grandma's hand to keep from saying something during the "speak now or forever hold your peace" part. I did not want them to be married, but I played along. My sister, new step-siblings and I were not included in the ceremony. Once the wedding was over though, I decided to buy into the "blended family" thing, and made a great deal of conscious effort over the next 10 years to do and be family with my Mom's new partner and his kids. So, when they got divorced when I was 17, and I never heard from my stepfather again, I was… well, actually, words fail me, but suffice to say that the emotional trauma of all those experiences together is something I still struggle with today. So, here I am now, 12 years later, engaged to a wonderful man who is father to a six-year old boy. Because of my experiences, it is of utmost importance to me to include this little guy in our ceremony, and for me to make vows to him as well as to his father. We're working on creating a ceremony that doesn't put too much pressure or unwanted attention on him, while letting him – and our families – know that I am making a lifetime commitment to him as well that I intend to keep, no matter what may happen between my partner and I in the future. As of this writing, our little guy plans to attend the wedding in a dragon costume (colour-coordinated with our theme, of course). 😉 4 agree Reply dammit crying at work again! Those are beautiful! Even though the kidlets are grown, I've helped to raise them since their dad and I have been together but unmarried for so long. I might use these to cobble together something appropriate for our circumstances. 3 agree Reply There should be a warning – NSFW! I have tears streaming down my face right now, sitting at my desk trying to look like I'm not crying. This post is gorgeous. I have a son from my first marriage and with my boyfriend and I starting to discuss marriage in the future, this really hits home for me. Absolutely beautiful. I will keep these in mind for when my day comes. 4 agree Reply Thank you so much for posting these!!! These are much better than ANYTHING I found online, and I do see some options here that we can customize and adapt to our situation. This makes me so glad I spoke up in the Tribe! Reply This is a great post. I know it is personal – but if anyone would like to share their vows I would really appreciate it. My fiance has a 9 year old daughter and I want to say something very special to her. 3 agree Reply I love this! We have been trying to find ways to have my future hubby's daughter be a part of our ceremony and this just opened up plenty of ideas! Thanks for posting! 1 agrees Reply Wonderful ideas! I just wrote a family vow for a couple where each partner has 2 daughters. When the vows were taken, the groom held hands with the bride's 2 daughters, creating a triangle. Then we did the same for the bride with the groom's daughters. It helped them cement the specific pledges that each wanted to make in a tangible way. 1 agrees Reply These are wonderful for blended families, but I would love some ideas for our family. My husband and I have never been able to have a wedding until now. The children are our own offspring. It is important for us to make a commitment to them as well, especially as they hardly know their father due to the fact that we currently cannot live in the same country. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated. 3 agree Reply Check this tag archive: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/family-wedding That includes weddings where people chose to involve their children in the ceremony — sometimes blended families, but often their own kids. Reply My stepmom said some very sweet things to me at the ceremony, and they've held true to this day. Of course back then I was all, *eyeroll*, "Gawd, whatever!" Also? JEWELRY, people! 🙂 My dad and stepmom had black hills gold wedding bands, and at the wedding they gave me a little heart pendant that was in black hills gold. Not matchy-matchy, but all of the pieces went together. It is something that I've been happy to have and admire (and sometimes wear, still) over the years. It's not necessary, but comes highly recommended from this kid. 2 agree Reply I love seeing weddings where the couple includes their children. My father and stepmother didn't include my sister and I when they got married (we weren't even invited. Heck, they didn't even tell us that they got married, we found out by discovering their wedding videos). We were 10 & 8, and we actually liked our stepmom, and not being involved in their wedding was one of the most hurtful experiences in our young lives. Reply I agree completely! My mom ran off to Vegas to marry my step-dad while we stayed at home. Next thing we knew, there was a new baby. I felt like she started a new life and a new family, and I was just a left over from her first family. I wasn't but that is how it felt! I am making sure my 6 year old is good with this every step of the way. Our wedding day is as important to his life as it is ours. Reply We're getting married in a year, and will have 3 children present (2 from fiancé and 1 who is due in 2 months). We're going to involve the children in the wedding but not the ceremony. For a whole bunch of reasons– for one, even if we're married, it doesn't change the legal relationship I have to the kids. It changes the legal relationship I have to my fiancé, and so the ceremony will be about that. I think we're definitely going to do something before the wedding, and probably we'll do a one-night honeymoon and then a family-moon, but the wedding vows are going to be between my fiancé and me. Like the previous poster, the older child will be 14 and while we (she and I) have a decent relationship, I'm not sure she WANTS to make vows or even wants me to make vows to her in public. She's a private person AND she's trying to figure out her relationship to me, even after 2 years of living together. That's fine. If we're going to end up being close for many years into the future, it will happen between us and we don't need to make a public declaration of it. She knows the ways I support her already, and she'll keep learning it in the future as our relationship continues to evolve into whatever it's going to evolve into. I respect and support anyone's decision to involve children from either partner in the ceremony– I just also want to be a voice that says, "Hey– it's also ok for the wedding to be about just your relationship!" 2 agree Reply Oh, thank you! My fiance's kids are currently 17, 15 and 10, and likely will be 18, 16 and 12 by the time we marry. The middle son lives in another province with his mom, and really wants nothing to do with his dad, let alone me. I don't have any kids of my own, and I've joined this pre-made, pretty large family. I often find it hard to have everything around the kids, and was struggling to find a way to include them with the planning or ceremony, or something. It's refreshing to read this, some assurance that it's okay to have a day about us. Reply Your kids are "included" if they are THERE. Some brides get so caught up in "including" people that they end up creating silly jobs (making the guests WORK at the wedding) and forget that just being there is "inclusion." Reply perfect timing! we are in the midst of writing our vows (and the wedding is in three weeks!) my partner's daughter is 5 and our flower girl and is SUPER excited for our wedding…she is excited to walk her "Momo" down the aisle. we got her a special necklace to wear for the wedding, but i never thought about giving it to her as part of the family vows…i think she would love that. Reply This is great and we're cobbling together something that works for us. I am also thinking of talking to our officiant about trying to take a bit of a "read" on the kids' faces. My twin stepkids may or may not be having a good day – and that has to be okay. We have a great relationship on a day to day basis, but they're kids, and this is hard no matter how you slice it. I am reminding myself it's not about me…heck I remember my little brother being a crying disaster when my grandmother remarried – probably just where he was at that day. So I am thinking our officiant can adapt to a possible "plan B" – if the faces on the kids aren't open to being super involved, take the light approach and let us just talk to them. 4 agree Reply Thank you so very much for sharing this (crying was not something I expected!!). I am just in the beginning stages of planning, but as a new/to-be step-mom that love's my partner's kids more than anything these were beautiful and inspiring. I can't wait to meld/mold/create our own. I'm looking forward to making it special not just for my partner and myself, but to his three beautiful daughters. On a side note I am the most consistent 'mom' in their lives and I think that they are more excited for the five of us to be married than I am. Thank you. 4 agree Reply These are so sweet, I never cry and I totally teared up reading these. I've been trying to find a way to involve our 4 children (2 his, 2 mine) in the wedding, since its such a big day for all of us. The kids are young, 8,6,5, and almost 2, and they are all super excited about the us getting married. These are beautiful, of course, I'm going to have to edit them so I can make it through the ceremony without crying! 1 agrees Reply This is a great site. I'm planning a wedding & I also will b a step-mom to 2 beautiful kids. There dad & I have a daughter 2gether so I want the other 2 to feel apart of r family. 2 agree Reply Great ideas. 1 agrees Reply We are getting married this month and we are not taking our children (2 boys from his side and 1 from mine/ages 12, 9, 8). We are eloping just a few hours away from home. I really love the boys and he loves my son, we have just chosen to have a more romantic weekend. We have discussed this with our children and they seem okay with it. I don't want them to later have hostility or us have regret. Any ideas on how to include them, without actually having them at the ceremony? I don't know if it's just the "boy" in them but they don't really seem interested in going either but they do seem to be happy with us combining families. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated!! 1 agrees Reply Be careful! My ex husband and his wife got married 2 years ago, it was Summer and it was my weekend so he came Friday night dropped our 3 kids (2 boys who were 7 and 9 at the time and a 4 yr old daughter) off at my house and showed up Sunday night married. She has a daughter from a previous relationship who was with her father for the weekend also. They're still mad! And they keep pushing for my wedding to come faster because they think I'm going to run off and get married without them..My daughter still cries about being robbed of being a flower girl and has made me promise like a million times that she can be my flower girl 1 agrees Reply I think your choice of romance is really nice. So are you having a separate party post reception, on another day? Even a lunchtime/long afternoon casual sort of thing could be inexpensive an involve others including kids. Not knowing the age of the kids, would they join into something like a 'we got hitched car rally' or city chase (put your friends in pairs and set up some destinations, ending at your backyard or a park?) could also do simple questions about you guys as a quiz during a picnic and have some fun prizes for winners. I'm with you on the boy thing, though. I wrote poems for my step kids and read them out at our reception but they are total bookworms so it suited. The big thing is a tie in of what thy love, and what feels authentic to you. Reply I LOVE these! I think marriage is definitely a very real possibility for my new ralationship. Although its been a bumpy road to get here. I have a question though, How could we incorporate something like this for our Blended Family? He has 3 children, a girl and two boys. I have 2 children, two boys. We also have a baby boy together now. Any ideas? 1 agrees Reply I visited this stream whe3n I first got engaged last May, and now we're about six months out from the wedding, so I thought I'd return for new inspiration, but I'm not sure I'm finding what I'm looking for. What do you do when one child wants to be in the ceremony, but the other does not? It seems wrong to draw special attention to one and not the other. 2 agree Reply I think you do more public activities that include them both in ways they don't have to contribute – like, you and your fiance could say something to them both as a pair (no one is singled out), as a commitment to them. My stepkids are in different places and looking back, they were also in different emotional states at the wedding. I wrote poems for them both and read them at the reception. In this way, neither of them had to do anything, it was more a message of my thoughts to them (in a not-too-touchy way). Age is also a factor – how old is the one who doesn't want to be involved vs. the other? 2 agree Reply I need some more suggestions for the half-orphan. My late husband does not need his name rubbed out from all the Earth (he did not do anything wrong, he just died), so the ones here weren't exactly right for us (about taking stepdads name,). I like some of the things said in the Resolution from the Courageous movie, but those are too long (longer than marriage vows) I was thinking of hand-picking some of them and incorporating some of these? Have you seen any other widow-fatherless family vows? Reply I love the idea of the blending family vows and my finace and I have already discussed the jewelry idea. I have a daughter of my own that will be about 8 when we get married and has never had a real father role in her life until my fiance came into our lives. We also now have a daughter together who will be 3. We want to incorporate both of them, but these don't really highlight both of them and I would hate to honor just the eldest. Any ideas? Reply My hubby and I are renewing our vows in Sept. And one of the things that bothered me about our original wedding was that we didn't include his girls more (this was just one of many of my disappointments of the day…). This time around we want to renew our vows to one another, but also renew our commitment as a family. I agree that I love these but they dont fit well if you have kids apart and together. We Ended up taking a bit from each one and coming up with vows that were directed at his girls and then to all 3 of them. His read… **(all 3 names) I promise to always treat you with love first and foremost. I promise to always love and support you and to be there for you. I promise to always be available to listen to you. (His girls names) I promise to support you in your relationships with your mothers. I promise to acknowledge my past and to be civil to your mothers so that you need never to make a choice between them and me. I promise all three of you that I will treat (bride) with love and respect so that you may know how a real man is to treat you one day. I promise, with (bride)'s help, to model for you a healthy, loving, and supportive marriage in the belief that one day, you too will find such happiness in love.** Mine are similar but you can get the idea. 1 agrees Reply I'm getting married in the fall & my future husband has 4 amazing boys. 2 are preteens, the others are younger. I'm so glad to see that there are ways to include them in the ceremony!! I love some of these ideas for vows! We're having a Catholic wedding, so the ceremony is a bit structured, but we plan on doing personalized vows/speeches at the reception to make them feel more included. 🙂 I'm so excited!! Reply I'm needing help! I want to to family/ unity vows with our children during my upcoming wedding. It's a bit tricky, so I'd like some input! My soon to be husband has 3 young children which he has full custody of and he and I raise. I've been the only constant mother in their life as their own mother doesn't even call them regularly. I love them as my own. I thought about getting them sterling silver eternity bands and including the rings and a vow of sorts to them in the ceremony. I don't know where to begin! I know I will be crying before its over! But my biggest issue is MY children. We are using our children as the only attendants, so my children will also be involved. They are all older and do not live with us. They are each out on their own.. College, jobs etc. They are 24, 23 and 19. My soon to be husband loves them dearly and is there when they need anything. Since there is such a big difference in ages of the kids ( his are 7,8,12) I'm so confused about how to incorporate them all at the same time with a ring/ necklace/vow because my kids are already out on their own. But I don't want them to be hurt thinking my vows to his children leave them on the side lines! All the children love each other we are already a blended family they all fight like they are blood related siblings lol. Is there something simple anyone can help me with to have this go smooth without being way to long or to complicated?? I'd like something simple for us to say so we don't get nervous and forget lines and the vows for my children not sound as if they were still young children living under our roof. It's all about love and becoming a family but I can't figure out how to make it simple for everyone. Reply Your kids are old enough to have a say in it – what would THEY like to do? 1 agrees Reply Thanks for the great article – it brought tears to my eyes! We're already using the 2 littler kids as ring bearer and flower girl, and the teenager as my (sole) bridesmaid, but I wanted to do something more. Having us say vows to them seems so perfect. I don't want them to feel pressured or shy about having to reciprocate in front of everybody, so we won't have them say anything back, we will just say family vows to them, and possibly present something to them. Any suggestions on something nice to present an elementary-school age boy and girl as well as a teenage girl that they would all like? Preferably DIY / inexpensive – we have a teeny tiny budget. 2 agree Reply I cried reading these. I have a child from a previous relationship and we have a child together, I will be incorporating these into our vowels to each other! Reply These are all beautiful suggestions. I really love the idea of the flower arrangement. Because of the age gaps I wanted to acknowledge them all. They are our bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower girls. when we get married they will be 3, 4, 7, 1o, 13, and 16.I was trying to figure out some type of token for them to keep. We have our wedding bands but what would be something we could give them with the vast age differences? 1 agrees Reply I think jewelry is always good- necklace "charms" can be masculine like a dog tag or feminine like a heart so that all can have one (if that is more your/their style)- you could even give them in a personalized box so if the charm (forbid!) gets lost they still have a keepsake. Reply I really loved reading these and I would love to use some of these ideas for my wedding in 2 weeks; but I'm really torn I have 3 kids who are a big part of the wedding and have been helping me plan and prepare from day one, they can't wait and I really want to include them; However my fiance's 2 year old daughter who isn't allowed to be there, they're involved in an ugly custody battle and he's not allowed to see her at all right now… How can I include my kids without hurting his feelings… Reply All the comments are sweet, but we all have to remember one thing! The marriage does include all! As a step parent myself, it has been very hard to be excepted by my husbands children even tho we have been together for 25 years. As children we never want our parents to be with someone else, we want them to stay together forever! Show them that you are not there to take their father/mother away, but to join as a family. Include them and ask them what they would want to do or not do. respect their decisions even when it is hard to. You will be joining as a family and with that said you and your partner need to back each other as a family and not individuals. Love them, show them peace and keep faith. Make it a special day for all!! Write your own vows to include the children. Reply So, my fiancee's 7-year old twin boys are fraternal and while quite different they are both quiet and shy. They seem pretty OK with the marriage, etc.- not much is changing for them- but in our situation I feel like it is really putting them on the spot to put them in the vows- they aren't ones for opinions. I am marrying their father, and joining them as family member, but won't be in a parental role and while they know and like me we aren't close enough to be proclaiming "love" just yet. One way we're getting around this is by having the wedding be so small- just my parents, his parents, and them (plus my brother officiating) so the boys will be comfortable and relaxed. Plus they will really feel a part of the day- we are having them stay with us the night before and the day leading up (eek for me getting ready but I think it will pay off). They won't be coming to the party in the spring- it's an evening cocktail bash. But my hope is when they look back they will see that we involved them in something special. Also, we're giving them Legos, which never hurts. Reply Just want to say thank you for making this so easy for me. I am a first time officiant and my bride and groom just asked me tonight about how to incorporate her boys 6 and 8. There are some wonderful ideas to work off of, and I love the website and will be hanging around! Thanks again. Reply How can I include the groom's children, from a past marriage, into my mother-of-the-bride speech? Reply Honestly, whatever the spirit of these ideas might be, I think it's deeply inappropriate to involve children in the speaking of vows. I don't take as much issue with a new step-parent pledging a vow to their stepkids-to-be, though it does put children on-the-spot, and that needs to be taken into consideration as well. My main beef is with the notion of step-children pledging vows of any kind to their step-parents or step-siblings. Yes, two families are joining, but only two individuals in that family are actually getting married, and only those two should be accountable to any familial, contractual obligations, however informal. A child has no place being expected to make a vow to their new family members, neither as a symbolic gesture nor as a literal commitment. Whatever a child's feelings about the marriage, positive or negative, he or she is not in a position to make a pledge of any kind, especially one as solemn as that of marriage. Reply Absolutely. As we say in the beginning of the post: "Obviously, doing blended family kid vows won't be a fit for everyone wedding or every family situation." Reply I'm a stepchild AND a stepparent, and I'm NOT a fan of family vows. PLEASE be sure the kids are on board with this before you do it. I attended a wedding where it was sprung on the kids. The minister finished the wedding, then called them up. They stood there bewildered while the adults hissed, "Say I do, say I do," at them. This can be uncomfortable if their other parent is still alive, too. I adored my stepfather, but I already had a dad. 1 agrees Reply This post has left me feeling a bit sad and jealous of the wonderful relationships that can exist between parents, partners, and kids/stepkids. I am getting married in six months to a wonderful man whose ex-wife and 4 kids (16, 14, 10, &9) live 16 hours away. The two older ones don't want anything to do with me and wouldn't see their dad at all if they didn't have to. So, since the big kids don't want to come, none of the kids will be attending the wedding. Despite my feelings about none of the kids being permitted to come, I respect their mom's decision regarding such a long trip for just those two.(taking them out of school for a few days etc) However, I want to at least mention all the kids in the ceremony ( like the in absentia script), as I hope that FH and I will have a better relationship with them in the future. But, if we do the in absentia promise, I am not really sure what the FH and FiLs will do (get upset, break into racking sobs (seriously, it's been known to happen when talking about the kids)) This decision has been the hardest one for me & FH to make so far…He says he wants to include them in absentia, but admits he may get really upset by being reminded that they are not there by choice. I don't want him to end up spending the rest of our wedding day sad and miserable. Any thoughts? Reply So I'm a lady with a kid about to marry someone with no bio kids, and my son's dad (my ex) is coming to the wedding. Here's my $.02. Weddings ALWAYS include a lot of The Feels. People are going to cry. Some people are going to be upset by some memories. You can feel sad and joyful at the same time. This is par for the course. Hey, my mom died a year ago and won't be there. I'm going to burst into tears over this at some point. It happens. Reply My wedding is in 4 days, and we're including my 4yo son (at his request). I was widowed several years ago, and my son doesn't remember his biological father- as far as he's concerned, my fiance is "Dad." So, he has his own ring that he picked out (letting a 4yo scroll through Etsy is a terrible, terrible idea FYI), and after the adults exchange rings, my fiance will be making a vow to my son and giving him his ring. We're absolutely stealing some of the wording here! Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via emailGet only replies to your comment, the best of the rest, as well as a daily recap of all comments on this post. No more than a few emails daily, which you can reply to/unsubscribe from directly from your inbox. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. Biz owners & wedding bloggers Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.