Woman Weds Marine With 4-Year-Old Son, Has Message For Boy

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A video of a woman marrying a marine with a 4-year-old son from a previous relationship quickly went viral after capturing the moment the bride turned to the boy with a message for him. Until that point, the wedding had gone smoothly, but that all changed as the groom stood at the altar with his son and bride.

Emily Leehan
Senior Airman Emily Leehan (right) pictured with Sgt. Joshua Newville (left) and his son Gage (center) (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

After Senior Airman Emily Leehan met Sgt. Joshua Newville at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Trenton, New Jersey, the pair dated for about three years before Joshua finally popped the question, asking Emily to be his wife. The proposal involved Emily taking on another role too — that of stepmother to Joshua’s 4-year-old son, Gage. Thankfully, Emily had grown close to Gage over her years with Joshua, and the bride-to-be was more than ready to make the boy a permanent part of her life.

So, as soon as Emily and Joshua became engaged, the bride-to-be immediately began contemplating how she’d incorporate her soon-to-be stepson into the wedding ceremony. Eventually, Emily decided that reciting vows to Gage would be the perfect way to include him in the upcoming nuptials. Joshua agreed that it was a great idea, but he didn’t want to read Emily’s vows to Gage before the wedding. Instead, he thought Emily should keep them a secret — a surprise for both Gage and himself, PEOPLE reported.

When the big moment came on July 22, 2017, the couple stood at the altar at Quincy Cellar in Ripley, New York, with Gage standing between them as Emily Leehan began to recite her vows. As cameras rolled, the bride told the boy that she wanted him to be safe and to be a good person. Then, much to both Emily and Joshua’s surprise, Gage began to have an emotional reaction. The child unexpectedly began to weep, causing Emily to struggle to keep her own composure.

“I definitely didn’t expect him to react the way he did,” Emily admitted. “My reaction was just to giggle it off because if I hadn’t, I would have cried like a baby and I wouldn’t have been able to get it all out,” she recalled. Thankfully, she found the composure to carry on as Gage cried enough for the both of them, but Emily would have had it any other way. “It couldn’t have been any better than how it went,” she said.

Gage’s heartfelt emotion also left his father struggling to hold it together at the altar. “I was trying not to lose it more than I already had — I think I was tearing up before the vows even started, just because of the emotion of the day — then when I saw Gage tear up, I was trying not to tear up with him,” Joshua recalled.

The emotional moment became one of the many highlights of the wedding with friends and family saying it was one of the most emotionally genuine things they had ever seen. It had seemingly made the day for many, and after video footage of it hit the internet, online viewers seemed to agree. The clip of the bride reading her vows to her groom’s weeping son quickly went viral, sending viewers everywhere reaching for the tissues.

According to the newlywed couple, who spoke to PEOPLE following the tearful video going viral, Gage usually isn’t as emotional as he was in the wedding footage, but perhaps that’s because he was looking forward to something else when the vows began. “He was excited because the wedding was over and he was one step closer to eating some cake,” Joshua admitted, laughing. “I was just really trying to keep him in his tux that way we can take some pictures and then he can go ruin it.”

After the vows were exchanged, the 4-year-old eventually got some cake at the wedding reception, where he “danced his little tail off” after making his entrance to Darth Vader’s theme music while wearing a mask of the character. The day really seemed to come together for the newly blended family, and Joshua praised Gage’s biological mother, Kali Nuckols, for her support, which helped make that happen.

The couple returned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst after their wedding with plans of a future honeymoon once they were able to save some money for it. However, Gage showed everyone that some of life’s most precious moments are free. He also reminded us that when the adults involved in blending a family can be supportive of one another, the children reap the benefits of feeling loved and included.

This is just a beautiful example of what it takes to successfully blend families together and become a stepparent. You aren’t just gaining a spouse, you are gaining a family that will require just as much commitment and work as the marriage, but when enough love and togetherness are given, beautiful and unexpected moments that will be cherished forever are created, making it very worth it — as little Gage’s tears will remind viewers for years to come as his story continues to be shared.