LDS Temple Weddings: Questions and Answers
Your families, the one to which you were born and the one you’re starting the day you are sealed, are both important to your Heavenly Father.
Weddings are busy and emotional times. On top of the stress of planning and coordinating flowers, dresses, photographers, and caterers, there are two families’ worth of traditions, beliefs, desires and expectations to address. If you are getting sealed in an LDS temple and have family members who will not be able to attend the sealing, it can become a point of misunderstanding and conflict, clouding what should be a joyous occasion. President Boyd K. Packer counseled, “The young couple must understand that their parents may have looked forward to the wedding day during the entire lives of the bride and groom. Their desire to attend the wedding, and their resentment when they cannot, is a sign of parental attachment. It is not to be resented by the young couple. It is to be understood and planned for carefully as a part of the wedding” (The Holy Temple, 66-67).
Remember that the family is the basic unit of the gospel. Your families, the one to which you were born and the one you’re starting the day you are sealed, are both important to your Heavenly Father. He wants every family to succeed. Here are a few suggestions to keep the focus on your new covenants and strengthen your family relationships as well.
There is no one right answer for how to include family members who can not attend the temple sealing. Make sure to pray and ask your Heavenly Father for help and listen carefully to the answer. He may guide you to do something you weren’t planning or to reach out in an unexpected way. He loves all of His children, including you and your loved ones, and will help you help them.
Assume the best.
Recognize that your family members love you very much and they understandably want to be with you during this important and special event. As President Packer mentioned, many family members have been looking forward to your wedding day since before you were even born. Fathers dream of walking their baby girls down the aisle. Mothers eagerly anticipate the look on their son’s face when he raises his wife-to-be’s veil. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and other relatives all want to be a part of sharing your joy on your wedding day. To find out that they will not be able to witness your sealing may be very difficult for them, not in spite of, but because of their love for you. Try to see the situation from their point of view. Their feelings of hurt or sadness are not evidence that they don’t trust you or don’t want what’s best for you. On the contrary, they show just how much they care.
Planning a wedding can be busy; it seems there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done! But carve out some extra time to spend with your family members who have concerns. Express your love and appreciation to them often. Ask your fiancé to do the same. Make every effort to avoid contention and speak lovingly to them and of them to others. Speak positively of the Church, the temple, and your spouse-to-be. As they see your peace and happiness and are assured of your love for them, they may be able to better understand and accept your choice.
Start the conversation early.
Begin open conversations with your loved ones about the gospel and the temple as soon as possible, even before you’re engaged! Especially with close relatives like parents or siblings, short, frequent conversations introducing the temple, eternal marriage, sealings, recommends, and other related topics can start before baptism and continue in non-threatening settings for years. Even if you haven’t spoken much about the gospel with them before, start now! Don’t avoid the conversation hoping it will get easier; it won’t. And don’t wait until a few weeks before the sealing to break the news that they can’t attend; that’s much more likely to result in hurt feelings.
Many family members have been looking forward to your wedding day since before you were even born.
You know your family best. Perhaps for some relatives, a letter explaining your beliefs and the sacred nature of the temple would be the right approach. Others may need a face-to-face discussion. Some may be open to learning about eternal marriage and temple sealings from the missionaries or visiting a temple or temple visitor’s center. You might also want to suggest that your non-member family members and friends watch a few short videos about “LDS Temple Marriage; for Time & All Eternity”, “Why Mormons Build Temples”, and/or “The Blessings of the Temple” in this section of WeddingLDS.com.
Remember to frequently express your love and appreciation for them throughout the process of planning your wedding. Avoid contention. If the conversation gets too upsetting for either you or them, it may be best to stop and try again another time. But don’t put off discussing this most important topic with your loved ones. This section contains videos approved by the church, videos and pictures of temples (inside and out), as well as articles about what happens during an LDS temple sealing and information about LDS Ring Ceremonies.
Explain the doctrine regarding temples and sealings.
When people understand the “why” of a decision, it’s often much easier for them to accept the decision itself. Explain that the purpose of temples is to bring souls to Christ. Describe as best you can (appropriately, of course) what happens in a temple and why temples are so central to our worship. Explain how a Temple Recommend works, why they are required and how you qualify for one. Bear your testimony about why a temple sealing and eternal marriage is so important to you. Explaining that temple sealings are effective for all eternity rather than “until death do you part” may help family members understand why the difference is significant. Books such as President Boyd K. Packer’s The Holy Temple may help. There are some great resources teaching about temples at http://www.lds.org and http://www.mormon.org as well.
Take your family members to visit a temple or visitors’ center, if possible, to help them feel the spirit of the temple grounds. NOTE: Some temples may be able to arrange for your loved ones to meet with a temple sealer or member of the temple presidency to ask questions; call ahead to find out for sure.
It may also help to explain that the sealing ceremony is a short religious ordinance, not at all like the traditional weddings in many other churches. For example, no one walks down an aisle or gives the bride away. There is none of the pomp and circumstances that surrounds some other wedding ceremonies. It is a quiet, reverent ceremony preceded by a few words of counsel from the sealer. They may feel less left out when they realize what’s taking place in the temple isn’t the wedding they envisioned. For beautiful pictures of some inside rooms of LDS temples, click here.
Enlist your church leaders and/or the sealer.
When you meet with your bishop and stake president to get your recommend for your sealing, openly discuss your concerns with them. Let them know of any family members who are upset or having trouble understanding your decision to be sealed in the temple. Your bishop or stake president will be glad to help. They have likely had some experience addressing similar concerns before. They may be able to develop a trusting relationship with family members and answer questions or explain doctrine in a caring and compassionate way that will help them better understand. Sometimes it simply helps to have an outside person’s perspective; there’s less emotional baggage to wade through and it doesn’t have the feel of a re-hashed conversation.
On the big day, your family members may also appreciate meeting and speaking with the sealer who will actually performing your sealing ceremony. Perhaps they would find it comforting or helpful for your bishop or another church leader to wait with them outside the temple. Counsel with your bishop on how to best address the concerns and needs of your family and friends.
Keep it small.
Temple sealings are sacred, reverent ordinances. While traditional weddings many have hundreds of guests, the typical temple sealing has relatively few. The largest sealing rooms in the biggest temples don’t have room for more than fifty or so. The ceremony is simple to keep the focus on you, the couple getting sealed, and the covenants you are making with each other and with Heavenly Father.
For a family expecting something more like a traditional wedding outside the temple, it’s easy to understand how, say, the groom’s side of the family would feel slighted and hurt if they were unable to join you while dozens of aunts, uncles, and distant cousins from the bride’s family parade on into the temple. Yes, you want to share this day with as many loved ones as possible, but remember that the reception offers an alternative to include ALL of your relatives and friends on an equal basis. You may also consider having a lovely Ring Ceremony during the reception as well.
Limit your guest list for the temple sealing in keeping with the sacred nature of the ordinance and family sensitivities. If only a few are attending the temple sealing, those who are not able to attend may feel less excluded.
Involve close family members.
Your family members love you and want to be a part of your important day, so involve them in every way you can! While planning for the wedding, ask for their input on the menu, advice on colors, and recommendations on professional services. Delegate responsibility to those willing and able to help. Ask her mother to help you learn to dance. Take his sister dress shopping with you. Ask your parents for their memories of their wedding day and what made it special for them.
On the big day, make a special effort to keep them feeling a part of the event. Call close family members just before leaving for the temple to let them know you love them and are thinking of them. Could the bride get ready in the waiting area or visitor center restroom so her mother or mother-in-law-to-be can be a part of her preparations? Perhaps the father of the bride would like to escort his daughter to the door of the temple. Or would they prefer to be in charge of overseeing the reception or luncheon preparations while you are in the temple? Be sensitive to their feelings; even supportive parents may have a difficult time on the day of the wedding. Assure them of your love and appreciation as often as possible.
Provide support during the sealing.
Remember, you know your family best. Discuss the events of your wedding day with them openly and early. This may be the hardest moment for them in the entire process. Would they like a phone call just before you enter the temple or do they want to be there in person to wish you well?
Would they prefer to arrive just in time to greet you after the sealing is done? If that’s the case, the temple should be able to tell you approximately what time the ceremony will be done so they can time their arrival. If they want to wait for you on the temple grounds, is there a friend or another family member who can wait with them during the ceremony so they’re not alone? NOTE: Perhaps you and your spouse-to-be could prepare a heartfelt letter or recording expressing your love for them and your testimony of eternal marriage for them to read or listen to while you’re in the temple.
Be sensitive and understanding if they decide being at the temple would be too painful for them. Remember President Packer’s counsel about understanding and planning for family members’ feelings. They love you and want to be with you during the important moments of your life. Do everything you can to help them feel loved and supported as well.
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♥ Emily H. Geddes
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