“I may not have given you the gift of life, but life surely gave me the gift of you.”

The day Emily Leehan got married she wasn’t just saying “I Do” to her groom, Joshua Newville; she was saying “I Do” to his 4-year-old son, Gage, as well.

Not only was their wedding a union of two people in love but it was also a blending of two families and the start of their new journey together.

So, the bride didn’t just deliver one set of vows on her big day — she delivered two; one to her new husband AND one to her new stepson. While we’re certain her vows to Joshua were beautiful, it’s what she had to say to Gage and his heartfelt reaction that really takes the (wedding) cake.

Spoiler alert: You’re going to want to grab the tissues for this one.

A Stepmother’s Heartwarming Vows to Her New Stepson

wedding speech

According to CBS News, Joshua, a sergeant in the Marines, and Emily, a senior airman in the Air Force, dated for two years before getting engaged and tying the knot. Gage was just two years old when Emily flew into his life.

Over the years, the two developed a special bond and it’s this powerful connection that is clearly shown in the now-viral video of their sweet exchange.

In the video, captured by wedding photographer Jessica Husted, Emily is reading her “vows” to little Gage as he gazes up at her. Fighting back tears she begins, “I want you to be safe and to try your hardest and to be a good person,” adding, “Don’t cry, baby.”

Too late. Gage, overcome with emotion, throws himself at her, wrapping his arms tightly around her, sobbing. And now, literally, everybody’s crying.

Somehow, Emily manages to keep it together and press on.

“I know you and I will butt heads…” More sobs. “Except for right now,” Emily jokes (because sometimes you gotta laugh to keep yourself from crying).

As Joshua comforts his weeping son, Emily continues: “But I hope with all my heart that as you become a grown man, you will understand my methods and realize I have only done what’s best for you and that I love you.”

She ends her vows by saying, “You are a special boy. You are so extremely smart, handsome, and kind to others.”

“You have helped shape me into the woman that I am today, and I may not have given you the gift of life, but life surely gave me the gift of you.”

Emily Newville


Why a Stepmom Stepped Up

Once Emily finishes her vows she bends down and hugs Gage, eventually scooping him up in her arms because there’s still a wedding to finish.

Emily explains that she always knew she wanted Gage to be a part of the ceremony.

“I wanted to involve him because when I was vowing to be Josh’s wife I was also vowing to be his stepmom. I wanted him to feel special and to remind him of how much he means to me.”

She also knows just how special the step-parent—child bond can be. She has a special relationship with her own stepdad, who, along with her biological dad, walked her down the aisle.

As for Gage’s biological mother? She’s sharing the love too.

“As his mother I can say that she is an amazing step-mother to him,” Kali wrote in a Facebook comment. “I couldn’t have picked someone better. Gage is lucky to have her and I’m so thankful I can trust her to be there when I cannot be!”

Blending families can be tricky. It comes with its own unique set of challenges. But family doesn’t require blood, it requires love. Family isn’t about sharing DNA; it’s about sharing life.

And in those times when we get to CHOOSE our family? When we get to look another person in the eyes and say, “I choose you,” there’s something to be said about the incredible power of that kind of love.

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