“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
buddy. Daddy and I are going to get married,” I’ll say, shaking noodles into
boiling water. There’s a long pause.
get me a dress!” he’ll shout.
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.
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
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?”