Involving step-children in your wedding

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 Photo: Getty Images

When Diogo Bolant married Nicole de Souza in Sao Paolo, he decided to add a special element to the ceremony.

That's because he didn't just want to make a commitment to his bride on their wedding day - he also wanted to mark the importance of having Nicole's six-year-old daughter, Isadora, in his life.

So during the ceremony, Diogo knelt down and presented his future stepdaughter with a ring, asking her, "Do you agree to be my daughter forever?"

Isadora said yes, then cried as her step-father slipped the ring on her finger.

The video was posted to Facebook and has since gone viral.

It's easy to see why it's struck such a chord, as it's a moment utterly brimming with love.

Sue experienced a similar moment during her own wedding to husband, Brad.

Brad was a father to three-year-old Joel when he began dating Sue. When they decided to marry four years later, Sue was certain she wanted to involve Joel in the wedding.

The only issue was how to do that. 

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The couple didn't want to surprise Joel on the wedding day. Instead, they involved him in the brainstorming process and gave him the final say.

On their wedding day, Joel read a poem. The marriage celebrant then asked him if he understood what was happening and if he agreed to the wedding.

"He was super cute and said, 'I do, I do' super early as he was nervous," Sue recalls.

Sue is far from the only step-parent who has chosen to include their stepchild in their wedding ceremony.

In fact, marriage celebrant Naomi Korolew says it's a "growing trend", one that couples are embracing in their own unique ways.

For instance, she recently married a couple who each had two teenage children from previous relationships. The couple asked their children to form the bridal party.

Then, during the ceremony, the children all came together and lit a unity candle to symbolise their support for their parents' marriage and the blending of their new family.

Naomi says other families prefer doing a "ring warming" ceremony.

During this ceremony, the rings are passed to the kids to have them bestow their blessings, good vibes and best wishes on them before they're exchanged.

Other couples ask their children to be ring-bearers or flower-girls/page boys, while some still embrace a 'sand ritual' (which involves children mixing sand in a vessel to signify the blending of their families).

Meanwhile, couples with children aged over 18 often ask them to be witnesses.

While Diogo surprised Isadora with a ring, Naomi says it's sometimes the children who surprise the couple during the wedding.         

She had a 10-year-old girl who surprised her parents at their wedding by reading out a letter she had written. 

"It was beautiful, " Naomi said. "Everyone cried."

Clinical psychologist Kirstin Bouse, author of The Conscious Mother, believes involving step-children in a wedding ceremony is a "wonderful" idea, and that the way Diogo involved Isadora is to be applauded.

However, she says this gesture may be "very tricky" in some families, as some biological parents may see it as marking the coming together of a new family unit while excluding the other parent (if there is one). 

"In my work – and I've done loads of family court work – what I have seen is parents feeling very insecure in their position and being unable to cope with the concept of a step-parent.

"In those situations, they would most likely flip if a stepfather did something like this," she says.

That doesn't mean your partner can't say something lovely to your child during your wedding ceremony. You might just want to be careful with what you say, says Kirstin.

"[Diogo] could have done exactly what he'd done without the 'Can I be your father' bit. [For example, he could have said], 'Can I be your step-dad?' Because that is what he'll be."

Regardless of the wording, it's clear to see by Isadora's reaction just how much the moment meant to the little girl. And Kirstin understands why.

"It really marks the beginning of a new chapter, [indicating to the child that] together, we move forward as a family unit."