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Planning My Wedding ...

“But I want to wear a dress just like yours,” Chloe, my 6-year-old future stepdaughter, tells me as we scroll through another long page of flower girl dresses. She has several opinions about what she’ll wear down the aisle, but the main two are that the dress be white—and extra twirly.

“We’ll find one, baby. Don’t worry,” I say, giving her arm a squeeze. She sighs and rests her head in her hand, whispering, "No, no, no, no," as I pass dress after dress.

But let’s be honest. This is the biggest battle she and I have faced as far as wedding plans go, and I’m still not complaining. When David, her daddy, and I told her we were getting married, there was no lashing out. There weren’t any tears or worries. Instead, she jumped right into my arms, gave me a hug and asked if we were going to get married tomorrow because she probably needed to get a dress now.

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She wanted to be involved in the planning from day one, and I have included her in nearly everything. “What do you think of these jars for flowers?” I’ll ask her, and she’ll nod her head in agreement and smile, or she’ll ask me when I’m going to cook her some breakfast already, because she’s STARVING. She is excited and happy, telling others about “Sam and daddy’s wedding” when she thinks we can’t hear and whispering to me after bedtime stories that I’ll be her stepmama after the wedding.

Her younger brother, Trey, brings up the wedding almost daily. “Sam, we gonna go to that wedding tomorrow?” he’ll ask me, running a train along the arm of the couch. I’ve told him that he’ll be the ring bearer, that he’ll get to dress up like Daddy and walk next to him at the wedding. At 3 years old, he doesn't really get it, I know, but he does know it’s happening. “You getting married?” he’ll ask me, randomly, while I’m making macaroni and cheese.

“Yes, buddy. Daddy and I are going to get married,” I’ll say, shaking noodles into boiling water. There’s a long pause.

“We gotta get me a dress!” he’ll shout.

Our wedding could definitely be described as charming (rather than lavish), with lots of mismatched vases and centerpieces, bunting, hearty soups for dinner and lots of champagne and dancing. Because, to us, this wedding is less about having a giant party and more about becoming a family, turning three Sollenbergers and one Darby into a party of four. We have talked over and over about the wedding (as you do when you’ve been engaged for 18 months) and have realized that as much as we like the glitz and glamor of an elegant wedding, that didn’t represent us as a family, which is the most important part. What represents us is getting married in the backyard I grew up in, having a family dance for the four of us and spending the night laughing.

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We knew a long time ago that Chloe and Trey are as important as David and I are in this wedding, and that is why I have decided to recite vows to both kids. Vows that I will write, expressing my unconditional love for them, how I’m not just marrying their daddy or becoming daddy’s wife, but that I am also becoming their stepmother and that we are going to be a family. I will promise to love them forever and that they will always have me in their corner. That will be my solemn vow.

But shhh. That is the only wedding detail neither kid knows about. Because as much as they love me and know that I love them, I know the next question out of their mouths will be, “Do we get a present, too?”

... Of course they do. Duh.

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