Stepfamily wedding vow suggestions. Anyone? Help!

So, the Lovely Man and I are getting married.

And he wants to include something in the ceremony that includes and maybe even speaks directly to the Boys.

It’s hard to navigate. So I’m cautious.

There are a few “nots”.

I’m absolutely not going to say anything that doesn’t feel true.

I’m not ready to promise the kids anything that isn’t entirely in my power to deliver, or shouldn’t be solely my responsibility, eg I promise to build a strong relationship with you.

And I refuse to say anything that might tighten the choke hold of their loyalty binds – no “Yay, new family, love everyone, take you to be my children, yay!” kinds of things. Honestly, I Googled “stepfamily wedding vows” and there was so much schmaltz that I entered a whole new emotional state – kind of a cross between nauseated and despairing.

(Sorry if that offends anyone – I can imagine lots of stepfamilies where sentimental love statements might not be out of place in a wedding ceremony. Ours isn’t one of them, though.)

Please, could those of you who are married or planning on getting married or just have an opinion share what, if anything, your wedding ceremony had/will have/would hypothetically have specifically related to your stepchildren and stepfamily?

If you’ve already had a ceremony including stepfamily references, how did it work out?



Filed under Family, Kids, Remarriage, Stepfamily Life

22 responses to “Stepfamily wedding vow suggestions. Anyone? Help!

  1. Kerryn

    Hi there SOTY

    We got married almost three years ago, at which time my SD was almost 5, and I’d been in her life for just under 2 years, so she was 3 when we met. We had a pretty good relationship, and for the most part we still do, although it was and still is a massive adjustment for me (and probably her too) and I still have lots of very difficult times, even though they are less frequent.

    I decided that I would like some kind of acknowledgement in our wedding of the fact that I wasn’t just marrying the guy I adored, I was also going to be part of a new family and was taking on the responsibility of supporting my husband to be a Dad. We had a civil celebrant, and we discussed it with her and she was able to give us some examples of wording others had used. Similar to you, I found a lot of it totally unrealistic and very soppy, which isn’t our style and would have been out of character with the rest of our ceremony. Eventually we picked some words that basically said something like: the union of X (husband) and Y (Moi) here today has joined two families together and also created many other new relationships. One of these relationships is between Y and Z (my SD). Y promises to supoport X in his relatiionship with Z and to provide love, care and respect to that relationship etc etc. (Simplified version, but you get the drift!)

    So the focus was very much on me supporting my husband and SD to have a positive and caring relationship, which I felt was the only commitment I was actually in a position to make. Of course I try to foster a relationship between me and my SD where we trust each other, get along and both feel respected. But really the bigger goal and lifetime commitment is to respect my husband’s and SD’s right to have a caring father/daughter relationship, and my role as the wife of a man with a kid to support him as best I can with that goal.

    That’s what resonated with me anyway. So my advice would be have a look at what others have done, but don’t settle for anything that isn’t real for you. You’ll find some words that work for you, and then you’ll feel good about having them as part of the your day.

    I hope that’s helpful. Good luck, I’d love to hear what you come up with :-)


  2. Carrie

    We also added a line in the wedding ceremony about our marriage creating a family that included our stepdaughters – and they stood up with us as our “attendants.” I think/hope it was nice but not over the top. But what I really wanted to say was something my mom reminded me of while I was stressing out about all the ways I could include the girls in the ceremony – it’s you and your husband who are getting married, not the kids. It’s okay (and good) for the focus to be on the two of you. I think sometimes we stepmoms/soon to be stepmoms worry so much about doing the right thing by the stepkids that we forget that we can come first sometimes too! Find what works for you and don’t worry that it is “enough.”

    • Yeah, I agree. It’s actually not me worrying about doing the right thing here, though, it’s the Lovely Man strongly wanting to move forward with the idea and me trying to find ways it might work for me. In particular, it concerns me that lots of the examples I’ve seen are a “one way street” – the stepparent promises to be X, Y and Z, support the relationship etc etc etc, but the parent doesn’t make any promises to the stepparent, like to be aware of their adult needs, or allow them to develop their relationship at their own pace, for instance. So I’m not worried is it “enough” but whether some of the options are in fact “too much”. If that makes sense.
      Personally, I suspect the Boys would be embarrassed to be singled out in the ceremony in any case.

  3. I was about to spout off for several paragraphs, but frankly, Kerryn really nailed it.

    You’re marrying the man. That’s what your vows need to be about. The family that comes with him is an obligation, sure, but how you include them in your vows is entirely up to you. In our ceremony, we included one vow about promising to provide a nurturing and supportive environment for his children, and I don’t mind telling you that Husband is the one who composed our wedding vows. This is your wedding– include the kiddos, don’t include the kiddos, it’s your choice. You know what your responsibilities are to your stepkids whether you list them in your ceremony or not.

    • Yes – I’m hardly likely to forget them! And trying to meet those responsibilities isn’t something we stepmothers do just because we promised it in a wedding ceremony.
      My thoughts at the moment are that I’m prepared to promise the Lovely Man that I will support his relationship with the children etc, but there also needs to be some reciprocity of promises from him. Our marriage vows change the nature of my commitment to him, but not to the boys, so I don’t want to drag them directly into a ceremony that they are, in any case, ambivalent about.

  4. Lisa

    When my hubby and I got married his 2 sons were ushers and brought the rings up to to us during the service. We didn’t say anything specific about them in the words/vows… It worked for us…

  5. lucy Keller

    I’m getting married in early November and our celebrant showed me some vows for blended families which I nearly choked on too!! My three are 8,13 and 15. My gorgeous one’s children are 6,8 and 15. My man’s 15 year old son lives with us fulltime and while we mostly have a great relationship, its had plenty of very very difficult times when I’ve thought I just couldn’t do it anymore!!

    SO….I am firmly of the view that this is OUR wedding, OUR relationship and I will not be making any promises to the children and nor do I expect him to promise anything to mine. We live and breathe commitment and support and tolerance for all our lovely children – a vow is not necessary . I think Step parenting is hard enough without adding yet more pressure to ourselves about keeping a vow to children who have neither the maturity nor insight to fully appreciate the adjustments and sacrifices we parents make accomodating all their needs.

    I do, however, think they need to feel special and involved. So they are our only attendants and guests of honour. Our three teenage boys can’t wait to “suit” up with button holes.. My step son is his dad’s groomsman and my sons will escort me upon arrival in the gardens where we are marrying. Our girls are flower girls.

    Our introduction refers to each child by name ie x and y are escorting their mum today and z is the groomsman.” Our vows refer to our new blended family and if they’d like, the children can read a poem or reading or prayer. They will be seated close to us at our banquet table and introduced by our MC to our guests. Finally, and ours is very much a family wedding of close friends and family, our youngest girls ( 8 years) are going to write the place cards for all the guests and decorate them – think butterflies, tiny love hearts etc. That helps them have a sense of “owning” the day too when our guests can enjoy their handiwork.

    Hope this helps and good luck!!

  6. Let’s be honest. As much as I wanted to “say” I’d fully support my hubs relationship with his daughter and tell her I’d be her friend when she needed one in our vows (he wanted me to say those things and him to my kids), there are DAYS when I’d rather (I’m being honest here so don’t shoot me) SMACK HER IN THE HEAD than foster their relationship. WHY?!?! Because she sure does nothinig to foster my realtionship with him! (very selfish, I’m the adult here, blah, blah, blah….I know.) My step-daughter is a teenager and was 15 when we got married so she was old enough, and damn smart enough, to make that same promise back to me, but she didn’t and no one even suggested that she should. It was just assumed and expected of me to make a committment and be loving to a kid who did nothing to make me want to love her or commit to her…realtionships are a two way street remember. In the end, two years later, I’m glad I stood my ground and wanted our vows to be about us. Instead of saying vows I was not sure I could really promise, I put them in my heart and hoped they’d be true someday…..slowly they are coming true where she is concerned and that just came with time and maturity (on both our parts) and not because I made a vow publically. I strongly believe that your vows are YOUR vows, not your step-children’s vows. Do what is best for you. Do what feels right. GOOD LUCK.

  7. CoriReyn

    This is a tricky question! I wanted to acknowledge that our wedding was not just about me and him, that the 3 boys are part of the package with him. At the same time, I didn’t want to ask anything of the boys since this wasn’t something they were choosing. They were happy enough but certainly not part of the decision-making team. I decided to present them with a tie tack after exchanging rings with their dad. I made some promises to them as I pinned the tack on (I can give you the exact wording if you’d like). I didn’t ask anything of them since, again, they had no choice. That felt like a good balance between acknowledging their existence and not making the whole event about them. And in the nearly-year since that day, I have thought about those vows and how I need to act after saying them, especially when one is being a royal shit and I’d like to check out of any relationship with him at all. Good luck!

  8. Kim

    We were married 4 years ago when my SS was 10 & he was our Jr Groomsman. My husband has a really close relationship w/ his son so it would have felt awkward not to have him play an important role in our wedding. We choose to put in our program a note saying that the unity candle we were lighting not only united my husband & I but the 3 of us as a family. When the time came my SS joined us at the altar & we used 3 matches to light the candle. We played “You’ll be in my heart” by Phil Collins which is, if you know, about parents always loving an adopted child so the reference was subtle. Also, we decided to put the bridal party/parents at their own table & used a sweetheart table for just the 2 of us. We purposely assigned my SS to sit w/ his grandparents even though putting 3 chairs at our table & placing him between us would have been the most practical. We wanted to stay away from the symbolism of having him “between” us. In reality he spent the night sitting on my husbands lap, which was wonderful, but we were still able to keep the night about the 2 of us. Good luck!

  9. Wikkid stepmum

    Maybe rather than making promises to the stepkids in your vows, you could express your hopes for your relationship with them? Or for the time/home you share with them? Doesn’t commit you if your relationship with goes sour, but you could express your wishes and hopes for your relationship with them, and them with you, in a positive way.
    I agree that it’s about you and lovely man, and that should be the focus, but it’s nice to acknowledge and find a way to include them, since basically you are hoping that they acknowledge you and include you in their lives or sense of family. And they may be thinking that everything could change from here on in…

  10. Hello! I just found your blog today and I wish I found it a few years ago! :)

    When my husband and I got married it didn’t even occur to us to mention my stepson… he was the little ring bearer (he was six) and it was more important to him be involved in the ceremony, not necessarily mentioned in the vows.

    I did say to him before the wedding that by marrying his dad i was becoming his family – and that means we’ll probably get ticked off with each other sometimes, but thats okay, because it also means I’ll always look out for him and try to help him if I could. I gave him my something blue to put in his pocket during the wedding.

    You’re becoming husband and wife – it goes without saying that you’re going to support him through all the crazy, child-shaped adventures :) so there’s no need to mention it if you don’t want too. This is also a really good opportunity for your husband to show his children just how important you are to him as well!

  11. Ultimately, you are marrying the children’s father, not the children. I don’t see any reason to include the kids in your vows at all. I intend to let the kids participate in the wedding if they want to, ring bearer and flower girls and whatnot, but the wedding is still about husband and wife.

  12. Sorry, I’m late to the party on this….but we did not include any sort of “stepfamily” vows in our wedding. Daisy was very much a part of our big day from beginning to end, but these kinds of vows were something I just did not want…at all. So I feel you here. Don’t know exactly what your fiance is considering, but I also read at that time that the kids really shouldn’t say any vows because making them “vow” something was a little much, especially in a less than ideal situation……I don’t think I helped much. Maybe you could just talk to your fiance and explain how you feel?

    • I’m totally with you on the making kids vow thing – the Lovely Man would never do that and nor would I.
      On the other hand, nor I am prepared to vow anything to the kids that they won’t be matching with a promise – the whole point of weddings is that the people promising things are in turn honoured by promises that create a mutual bond and obligation.
      As earlier commenters have said, basically I don’t actually feel there is a place for the Lovely Man’s children in the vow part of our wedding ceremony – they are welcome to be involved in other ways if they want, but not that one.
      Every piece of toast I make, every bit of homework I help with, every episode of sibling violence I diffuse is my commitment to them and while I take it seriously it is part of and subject to my commitment to the Lovely Man rather than a freestanding commitment in its own right.
      Thanks for commenting – it’s really helped me clarify things on this topic.

  13. My husband and I wrote vows to our children and read them in a special ceremony following our wedding. I’ll be posting an article about this on my blog in the next week or so, so please watch for it. But I wholeheartedly recommend that the children from your respective previous marriages be acknowledged in some manner. It’s a huge and happy day for the two of you, but one that is packed with so much emotion for children…The format of course depends upon their ages; at the time of our wedding, my son was 29 and my husband’s sons were 18 and 23. Good luck!

  14. Pingback: Under the Laughing Tree: Our Wedding Vows to Our Children « The Midlife Second Wife ™

  15. When my ex husband was getting married, his new woman contacted me. This is after not hearing from him for roughly four or so years. She said to me that she wanted to build a relationship with Brittany and (yes, its a quote!) ‘I take my role as step mother very seriously’. I said to her, ‘How can you possibly be a step mother when he wont be a father?’. Some 12 or so years later, I still am amazed at her selfishness / indignation at such a statement.

    Even though that step mother (SM1) and my ex husband are now divorced, that step mother still maintains a relationship with Brittany – strained as it is at present. Brittany just saw her last week for the first time in a year, and was amazed at the passive aggressive nature of SM1. SM1 said to Brittany ‘How can you treat me this way after all the effort I went to with your mother to raise you?’. Brittany laughed hard – she spent two weeks twice a year with this woman, tops, and now she is claiming to have raised her WITH me.

    I don’t have direct advise here … My ex husband is about to remarry for the third time, and I haven’t had any contact at all with this new woman. I suspect I wont either – Brittany is now 18yo and is carving out her own relationships. I can only relate to you the things that Brittany’s step mothers have done wrong.

    I realise that the wedding bells have tolled, so I was wondering, how did you actually finalise this situation?

  16. John

    It seems appropriate to acknowledge the children in the ceremony, speaking directly to them to assure them that your love, respect and protection will always be there for them and that you will guide and help them the best you can. Signify this commitment with a small token/keep sake that will remind them of your commitment. Don’t ask them a question…just make your statement. Don’t use the terms Mother/Father to discribe yourself…they already have one and everyone knows it. It would make you sound fake.

  17. Nicole

    Mind if I ask, what turn did your words to the boys finally take? I’m getting married in a month, and in a very similar situation as yours was and looking for something to symbolize that I accept that they are my family now, will be loyal to them, and here if they need me. It’s not a relationship full of warm fuzzies and tear kissing, but I will always be here, and will always support them if they ever wanted it, no matter what, not because of any relationship I have with them, but because I love their father. Desperate for words to say, because that’s what he wants, but just plain not going to lie. Help?

    • Rather than making promises, we had the celebrant acknowledge the Boys first from the list of the special people in our lives (our parents, each of our deceased aunties, people who had travelled from overseas to attend). We said how pleased we were to have them there to witness our marriage and that they were very important to us. We had them wear buttonholes (I explained that the flower was like a VIP badge at a wedding, and they all happily wore them) and the Lovely Man toasted them in his speech at the reception.
      They had an incredible time and surprised me by very much enjoying the limelight and the socialising.

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