For most brides and grooms, the moment they exchange vows is all about them – the rest of the room fades away as they pledge their lives to one another. But at Emily Leehan’s wedding to Joshua Newville, she addressed her stepson in a twist that made her ceremony unforgettable.
A senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, Leehan met her future husband when she and Newville were both stationed at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Trenton, New Jersey. There, Newville was serving as a sergeant in the Marines.
Although she had clearly charmed Newville, Leehan had another important person to impress – her fiancé’s four-year-old son, Gage. His father described the charismatic boy to Today as someone who “wears every emotion on his sleeve.”
For Leehan, though, this requirement was one with which she had a lot of experience. She grew up with a stepdad, and the two were very close – he helped walk her down the aisle when she and Newville married after three years of dating.
Leehan and Newville’s nuptials took place at Quincy Cellars in Ripley, New York. The bride described her wedding as “magical,” but out of the 130 people there to witness the happy couple say “I do,” no one was more special in the day’s events than Gage.
That’s because, although most weddings have the bride and groom reciting vows to one another, Leehan’s were also extended to her soon-to-be stepson. The bride wrote the words herself and read them in front of her wedding guests, receiving quite the reaction from Gage.
“I want you to be safe and to try your hardest and to be a good person,” Leehan began. And, with that, four-year-old Gage started to cry. They were happy tears, though, as the boy ran into his future stepmom’s arms for a hug.
“I know that you and I will butt heads, except for right now,” Leehan went on, acknowledging the fact that Gage was hugging her tightly as she envisioned future disagreements. Meanwhile, as his son continued crying, Newville offered him a little comfort, saying, “Buddy, it’s okay.”
With Newville now in charge of hugging his son, Leehan continued with her sweet words. “I hope with all my heart, that as you become a grown man, you will understand my methods and realize I’ve only done what is best for you and that I love you,” she said.
She ended her moving speech by saying, “The last thing that I hope you learn is that you are a very special boy.” As Gage and Newville looked on, she added, “You are so extremely smart, handsome and kind to others.”
“You have helped make me into the woman I am today, and I may not have given you the gift of life, but life surely gave me the gift of you,” she said. Her emotional vows now finished, Leehan then bent down to kiss Gage.
In fact, young Gage wasn’t the only Newville to feel overcome. The little boy’s dad told Today that it was all he could do to keep himself from welling up during Leehan’s heartfelt speech. “I was thinking, ‘Don’t cry,’ and was just trying to comfort Gage,” Newville said.
And the reason Leehan’s gesture tugged at Newville’s heartstrings wasn’t just because his son was crying. “It truly means something when someone who has no involvement in creating Gage loves him as if she did,” the appreciative father said.
He added that he was “just very proud and happy and excited.” And, once the video of his new family’s special moment was shared, a surprising person chimed in with a very similar opinion: Gage’s birth mother, Kali Nuckols.
Nuckols wrote in a Facebook post, “As his mother, I can say that she is an amazing stepmother to him. 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!”
As for the rest of their wedding, Newville and Leehan said that Gage continued to grab everyone’s attention, albeit in a much more jovial fashion than during their ceremony. In particular, the four-year-old Star Wars made an impressive entrance to their reception.
As he walked inside the venue, Gage donned a Darth Vader mask as the Star Wars theme music played in the background. “Overall, he stole the show for the whole day,” Leehan said. Newville, meanwhile, told ABC News, “We were telling him, ‘You did awesome,’ and our family and friends were saying that and told him he made [the wedding] even better.”
After their once-in-a-lifetime day, though, Leehan and Newville soon snapped back to reality. The couple forewent a honeymoon because they had to report back to work at their military base in New Jersey. Their family ties kept them at home, too.
“Our main focus is on Gage. And once we have some time, we’ll do it,” Leehan told Today about her honeymoon. Even though the newlyweds may not have gone on their trip, they still had one more exciting update to share with those who watched their now-viral family vows.
In an Instagram post from April 2, 2018, Leehan – the newly minted Mrs. Newville – had an announcement to make. “Surprise!” she captioned the photo, which showed her two pet dogs in front of a sign that read, “Our humans are having a baby.” She’s due in November of 2018.