Ideas Wanted: How to Help Non-LDS Relatives Deal With a Temple Wedding

When non-LDS family members learn that they won’t be able to attend a wedding ceremony held in an LDS temple, it can be pretty painful. In explaining this awkward situation, is there anything you have found that is particularly helpful? I was just asked if I had any useful quotes from a General Authority or other writer that can provide a fair and understandable reason for the limitations on who can attend the sealing ceremony. Any ideas about what might be most helpful?

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Author: Jeff Lindsay

55 thoughts on “Ideas Wanted: How to Help Non-LDS Relatives Deal With a Temple Wedding

  1. 22 Years ago my Mother-In-Law could not attend her first daughter’s temple wedding, she is still bitter.

    Good Luck.

  2. My parents couldn’t attend my temple wedding (I’m the only LDS in the family). They didn’t even attend the reception – just sent money.

  3. My wife is not a member and our daughter met a return missionary not long ago.I hear a talk of marriage and my wife is upset that she won’t be able to witness the sealing.I’ve asked my daughter to have a chapel wedding(civil)first so that her non-member relatives could witness the matrimony but she won’t budge. Our kids today are so self-centered.They could get sealed in the temple either way but,there’s no compromise even if it hurts her mother.

    1. Your daughter is being "self-centered" by doing exactly as the prophets have taught by marrying the right person, in the right place, by the right authority?

  4. I think an option would be a “ring ceremony” or something similar. This can be done either before or after. I think it would be special for any Mormons or non-Mormons, but not as special as a temple sealing…It would allow non-Mormons to feel included.

  5. Anonymous #1

    Look at it from your daughter’s point of view: her mother is forcing her daughter to choose between her and God. If she truly and deeply believes in sealing, as it seems clear she does, then no one should try to force her to compromise that belief. I think a ring ceremony, as anonymous #2 suggested, would be a good idea. Trying to guilt your daughter into compromising herself seems like a good way to lose her.

  6. >>They could get sealed in the temple either way but,there’s no compromise even if it hurts her mother.

  7. Wow. Some of you posters are wound up pretty tight. As my teenagers would say, “chill a little, Dad”

  8. Just let them know that despite their love and how much they care for you, they are not worthy in the eyes of Heavenly Father or His Church. No matter how much they want to witness the wedding, the Lord is choosy about who He allows into His house, and they are not welcome there. Give them an object lesson if you have to. If they have a nice clean home with white carpeting, for instance, come over for a visit in muddy boots and with chocolate pudding all over your hands. Explain that because they’re not baptized, drink wine or coffee and (especially) don’t pay tithing, they’re like those who trample on a clean house with muddy boots.

    We should ***not*** mince words when telling the truth. Isn’t it ironic how we have Moroni on the temples with his trumpet and get we want to tiptoe around the real reasons for church policy?

  9. I’ve never seen such a bitter bunch of posters. It has nothing to do with these peoples’ worth. It has everything to do with the fact that these ordinances are SACRED. A sealing ceremony is special. The spirit cannot be there if your m-i-l is clenching her teeth and rolling her eyes at the “Mormon nonsense.”

    The temple is the House of the Lord. If you are willing to let anything stand between you and your recommend that’s your problem. Not His or the church’s.

  10. I’m not so sure about that, harpingheather. It has _everything_ to do with worthiness.

    An LDS coffee drinker or non-tithe payer wouldn’t roll his eyes at “Mormon foolishness”. He just wouldn’t be worthy to enter the Lord’s house.

    Same thing with a non-member. Most non-members I know are respectful and don’t roll their eyes, titter or giggle at any serious, solemn function, least of all at their own relatives’ wedding. How ill-mannered is that? Most people I know are better bred than that and have more class.

    It’s just that they’re not worthy. Heavenly Father only allows worthy MORMONS to enter His house. No one else is welcome. And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

  11. I think the muddy boots analogy would be really insulting.

    My mother-in-law is not a member. Her presence in the temple would not have been like muddy boots – she is as “worthy” as anybody else. She is a good person who lives a good life. She just isn’t a member.

    She was there that day and enjoyed the day with us, but missed out on the ceremony.

    I regret that we didn’t have a ring ceremony. We talked about it, but really just didn’t know what to do or how to do it. I think we should have figured something out because I think she would’ve felt more involved. She wasn’t and isn’t bitter about it, though.

  12. Well, some non-members or less-actives find it “insulting” that they’re not allowed in the temple at all. There’s no rational reason for not letting them enter anyway, besides the fiact that they’re not “worthy” of a temple recommend. Even Mother Teresa could not have gotten into the temple. Church membership is one facet of “temple worthiness” so she would not have been temple worthy either.

  13. If you’re going to make it an issue of worthiness, then you have to acknowladge that the temple is the House of the Lord. God clearly has criteria for being in His prescence. Non-LDS people and members who find they need their coffee more than they need their God are clearly not following the prophets that God has given us. The issues of worthiness surrouning entrance to the temple are issues of following God’s laws. Coffee, tea, alcohol and tithing may seem like small things but they all boil down to obedience to God’s laws. There are wonderful people out there who don’t follow His laws. You can follow most of His laws and still be a good person. However, the requirement is to follow all of His laws.

    To bend this rule and allow non-recommend holders to enter the temple would be to invalidate our beliefs. We believe the temple to be the house of God. We believe God requires obedience to these laws of everyone. To say “well, maybe He’ll make an exception…” would be utter hypocrisy.

  14. Apparently, in the personal lexicons of most posters here, “help” means “carp.”

    The request was for any quotes or other explanations that can help mind up the broken heart. Instead, most of you seem to prefer chewing on your wounds.

    If you have a problem with the policy, TAKE IT UP WITH THE LORD. That is, if you’re still on speaking terms with Him. But don’t use Jeff’s honest and compassionate request as an excuse you leak your bile and bitterness, okay?

  15. It seems to me that the heated comments on this subject so far perfectly illustrate the reason for the original question.
    Just reading Dear Abby once in a while will show that bitter disagreements about every aspect of a wedding (or the reception) are not just a Mormon temple marriage issue.
    So I have two comments:
    In my own family, my brother and his wife were not able to attend the temple ceremony of their daughter, my niece. My husband was a bishop at the time (not that a bishop was a necessity), and so he conducted a ring ceremony just before the reception started. My husband gave the same advice and quotes as he would use at a “real” wedding ceremony and my niece walked down the aisle and everything. They didn’t exchange rings in the temple, so that was something special for her parents to see.
    And secondly, here is a link for some great info and explanation of the Mormon view of marriage as an eternal covenant.
    http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/
    Papers/default.htm
    Scroll down to the heading “temple”
    The second and third articles are especially relevant.
    Anyway, this is a great blog and I believe the author deserves courtesy and civility.
    Good luck!

  16. I think that a wedding is actually a perfect opportunity to share one’s faith. I can understand the sacredness of the temple and all, but it just seems so unloving and prideful to exclude even your own parents from seeing you commit yourself to your spouse, no matter what their beliefs. Why not something like a two-part ceremony, if nothing else?
    I’m a non-LDS Christian, and I had non-Christian family members at my wedding that I know don’t understand why I believe what I do. But I hope that in them witnessing my commitment to my husband that they saw maybe even just a hint of Christ in me. We also gave our pastor permission to give a very brief explaination and invitation (to accept Christ) that I thought was beautiful. Having non-believers there in no way took away from the sanctity of the moment.

  17. My wife’s parents aren’t members and have gone through the experience of two of their daughters getting sealed. They probably anticipate the same will happen with their third and last daughter as well.

    I have a huge extended LDS family and to alleviate some of the aggravation of the non-LDS extended family on my wife’s side, we asked most of my extended family to wait outside the temple with my wife’s extended family. That included my uncles and aunts. My mother wasn’t very happy about that … but my fiance and I at the time felt that it wasn’t very brotherly or sisterly to have tons of smiling LDS people from one side of the family come out of the temple while the non-LDS side of the family sat unhappily outside.

    To this day I’m not sure how many feathers we ruffled or how many people on my side were truly offended or not — but we felt at peace with the decision.

    It is interesting though to witness the indignation of a worthy LDS person who is asked not to attend a temple ceremony or who has worthy LDS relatives who are asked not to attend the ceremony. We are better at sticking to our standards sometimes than at being willing to stand in someone else’s shoes.

  18. The October 2004 New Era had an article about this. You can read it on lds.org (click on gospel library)

  19. Here are several suggestions:

    1. Have a closed ceremony–just the couple, the sealer and temple workers as witnesses. This way, LDS/non-LDS/worthy/unworthy relatives will ALL greet the couple at the reception. There will be no favoritism.

    2. Have a long engagement. Announce the wedding and work with family members to come back to church, join the Church, and otherwise become eligible to attend the wedding, no matter how long it takes. Non-member parents birthed, bred, schooled, comfoted, and loved the bride or groom for 18+ years. Why not sacrifice a speedy wedding for them? Teach and baptize, then wait until they can all go. I know several couples who did this. If family is really first, then this is doable with help from Above.

    3. Get married outside the temple first, wait a year, and then get sealed.

    4. Have a non-members only ceremony after the TR-holding members only sealing.

  20. More suggestions:

    1. Be pre-emptive. Long before dates, engagements, etc., sit the parents down and explain LDS beliefs in a nutshell (temples, 3DG, different kingdoms, ordinances/covenants) and explain that one mortal effect of these beleifs is that they will not be able to attend the sealing ceremony when you marry. DO NOT spring this on them during the happiness of the engagement announcement, wedding plans, etc.

    2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper pre-emptively explaining this practice. Describe a typical sealing as completely as you can without breaching covenants. Explain how meaningful it is to you and mention that it’s too bad not everyone can enjoy this kind of ceremony. Part of why it offends non-Mormons is that it seems so secretive and hush-hush. Disabuse them of these misconceptions by talking about it every chance you get, all the while apologizing for not being able to change the rules.

  21. Some excellent comments and suggestions. Thanks!

    Yes, I know this is hard for non-LDS parents and relatives. I wish it could be otherwise. I respect those who deal with it positively, seeking to understand and focusing on the fact that the wedding about their child’s happiness, not theirs.

  22. My parents were unable to attend my temple wedding, but they knew that years in advance. They went to the temple and waited for us. After the temple ceremony, but before we came out, the temple president spoke with my parents. I think it also helped that we kept the wedding party small–my grandparents, my escort, and my husband’s parents. My grandpa and father-in-law (to be) served as witnesses. At my cousin’s temple wedding, her parents couldn’t attend either, but she had a gaggle of girlfriends with her, including one that wasn’t invited, and I don’t think that was right, but it was her wedding, not mine. Then we had a reception where my husband was from and a reception where I was from (different states). Since most of my family isn’t LDS, we had a ring ceremony conducted by our singles’ branch president at the reception in my hometown. I think it also helped a little from an extended family standpoint that we chose to get married at a temple close to my husband’s family, far from mine. I involved my parents as much as I could with the reception planning. That helped my mom feelmore involved. My dad, in the planning stages, offered my $100 to elope (jokingly), so he could dispense with the party planning. I told him I didn’t need the $100–I’d just elope. Which brings me to another suggestion–just elope in the temple. People elope in Vegas all the time.

  23. I definitely will not be seeing my mother and brothers in my wedding this December. I belong to a multi-faith family… my mother and brothers are Jehovah’s Witnesses, my Dad is a Catholic, and I’m a newly baptized LDS member (once an inactive Jehovah’s Witness and was fully disfellowshipped after I was baptized in the LDS faith last December). JWs cannot attend any wedding ceremony especially that of a disfellowshipped member even if they are family. So even if I have a ceremony outside the temple, they couldn’t go. So my fiancee and I agreed to have a special “private dinner” that will include my family and hers apart from the general reception and the Temple Ceremony. Much more expensive? Maybe. But I hope it all works out. (zerw1n@yahoo.com)

  24. It is not normally my practice to step in on conversations uninvited, but I stumbled onto this blog whilst doing research and I will not contain my peace this time. And however belated it is, I will still put it forth.

    Harping Heather, you are so wrong on so many counts that I am deeply pained by your ignorance. Firstly, to paraphrase: “Mother” is the the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children (I’ll leave it to you to figure out where that came from). To simply write her off as “unworthy” is to say your very existance is a bastardization of God’s will. There is no argument you can make that will rationalize such a hateful statement as you’ve made.

    Secondly, The words of wisdom are NOT rules of what makes a mormon worthy or unworthy. Drinking coffee, smoking, not paying tithing; these are NOT church mandate, they are put forth as guidelines for good LDS living. And in all reality, they DO make sense. Paying tithe is very much the same as collections plates in Catholic churches. The other two, well, they’re simply clean living. Nowhere have I found any of those things to be described as trespasses that would make someone unworthy.

    My final argument, and this is most important. YOU are not god. Judgement is NOT your place, nor your calling. To have the audacity to act in such a way is more of a tresspass than to break all of the covenants you consigned yourself to at baptism, and I weep for you because of that.

  25. At 9:47 AM, July 25, 2006, Anonymous said…

    “I think that LDS members need to realize that they are not God, either.”

    Well don’t they believe that as man is God was and as God is man may become??

    Gee, didn’t Satan get Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit with such a promise???

  26. My brother became a Mormon and married another Mormon a few days ago. Their way of handling the non-Mormon family was to lead family members into believing they were traveling a thousand miles to attend a wedding, only to learn they were to wait outside during the ceremony. What a horrible ordeal.

  27. I’m sorry there were so many harsh messages posted. It almost makes me not want to get married at all. I just told my mom about temple weddings. She and dad always had a vision of watching me walk down the isle in a long flowing white dress. And I did too. I had that dream for over 20 years and now it’ll be different.

    But when I think about the blessings of a temple marriage I feel at peace. It still makes me cry when I think that I have to make such a committment of time and all eternity without my parents by my side. I won’t get to turn to my mother to see her nod as the butterflies in my stomach start to flutter. I won’t get to see my sister itch at her hideous maid of honor dress. I won’t get to see dad try to wipe a tear discreetly from his eye as his baby takes another step to grow up.

    It’s hard on everyone. I love my family. And this part is difficult to explain without going into a whole 5 part discussion of baptism, confirmation, endowment, and sealing ordinances…but we have a sealing FOR the family. So that we can take steps to be with each other forever. So that we can receive the blessings of a sealing. So that we can use the agency that God gave us to make choices upon our beliefs.

    I don’t force my mother and father to be members. And they don’t force me not to be. It hurt my mom to know about temple weddings. It hurt me to know that she didn’t believe in them.

    So then who wins this one? In the end mom told me that this was my wedding. And that she loves me. I guess this is just me trying to be the optimist but, I’ve never felt so close to my mother until she said that.

    I’m not engaged yet. So it helped that mom has time to ask questions and we have this opportunity to communicate our fears early on. It’s hard also that they live in Hawaii while I’m in California. We talk a lot. I’m giving her full control of the ring ceremony and reception. And my boyfriend has family that are members but don’t have recommends so they’ll be with mom and dad if they choose to be there.

    President Monson has a talk about “The Peril of Hidden Wedges.” It’s a great read. He talks about the dangers of letting things get in the way of relationships and growth, the importance of Choosing to Love Instead, Forgiving, Taking Initiative, and Closing the Gap.

    In the end I know my Evangelican Christian mother loves me and forgives me. We may not have the same views on how to believe in God and Jesus Christ. But we both believe in them. We believe in love, and family, and faith. We take each other as we are. That’s family.

  28. I also agree with several of theh suggestions here. Elopement is one very valid answer. There IS a temple in Las Vegas, all you have to do is make an appointment for sealing. I’m sure there are other places where there is no waiting for a marriage license.
    With me, my parents were rather burned out on weddings, even before my sister’s first big wedding; that’s when my dad told me that, when I got married, he’d give me a $1,000 to elope. Then, a few years later, my brother got married, and it wasn’t the wedding itself, but all the drama before and after. Then, when I got engaged, my sister was in the middle of a divorce and pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby (we didn’t know taht at the time, just that she had a second husband before the ink was dry on her divorce). So, when we got married, I told my mom and dad about the temple, and since the nearest one at that time was a nine hour drive away, my dad handed me $1,000 in cash and said, Congratulations! and we “eloped”.
    A ring ceremony is an option. The one about not allowing ANY family in is one. And having a civil ceremony and sealing a year later is one. Also, if it’s the bride who’s parents can’t attend teh temple, it would help immensely for the bride and groom to go into any talks fully expecting that the bride’s family will NOT provide any sort of monetary support for wedding or reception, if there is a temple sealing, instead of a wedding.
    The thing is, to TALK, COMMUNICATE. Have the bride, groom and both sets of parents, if at all possible, sit down together and talk about it. Especially if one set of parents can go to the temple and one can’t.
    Right off the bat, I don’t believe that it is good for EITHER side to start with the “if you really loved me” stuff.

  29. I am a non-member mother of a bride-to-be convert, and no amount of explanation of the church’s rules, policies or suggestions has or can heal the heart-wrenching hurt that I have that I cannot witness my daughter’s wedding. She is having a ring ceremony to allow non-members to experience something close to a wedding, but even that seems to be coming under some rule or whatever that says that covenants can’t be repeated. Balderdash! She and her fiance tell each other that they love each other every day, or even more often, so tell me now that covenants can’t be repeated. I don’t want to hurt my daughter by not being there for her, but I don’t think that she is fully understanding the depth of how much
    it hurts me to be treated like someone who is second class. We are all God’s children, and we will all have a place in heaven after we leave this physical life, just as God is a part of us and we a part of God in this life. The LDS church is very big on family life, yet non-member families are excluded from some of the most important aspects of their member families’s lives. That hypocrisy needs to change.

  30. I think that one big problem is, that one word:

    WORTHY

    Some people, even those outside the church, are “worthy” but, are they READY?

    Many non-LDS parents would be offended to hear that they are not WORTHY, but if they are told that they are just not READY, that MIGHT be a little more diplomatic in helping understand why non-members can’t be in the temple.

  31. Whether it’s worthy or ready or any other word, since when did any person (or group of people sitting in a sitting in a conference room) have the right to decide whether another person can gain access to God’s kingdom here or in heaven? Whatever happened to “Judge not, lest ye be judged?”

  32. The only thing I can suggest is, that the non-member parents sit down and have a REAL heart to heart talk with their member child. Have said LDS child explain why they want to get married in the temple, as opposed to some other way were the non-member family can be present. Not just the usual stuff, but why, deep down, they want this, when they know how their non-member family feels. There has to be some communication going on.
    Maybe that’s what some of the ones who post here can talk about, why they married in the temple when they knew how their non-member family felt.

  33. It would be wonderful if the tension could be eliminated. It seems to be a daily thing for me…not being able to understand how someone who was raised to be open, understanding and caring for everyone and can accept something that seems to be so closed and exclusive unless a person gives up everything else. Insteaed, my daughter seems to go on with her life still willing to listen (without becoming extremely defensive and coming back with what sound like well-rehearsed answers) to the deep down feelings that I have. I appreciate your thoughts on my ramblings, and it has helped to get some of this out of my head.

  34. Hi Brothers and Sister, I have a suggestion, rather then whatever else has been written here.

    My suggestion, is from my personal testimony of the temple sealing and what it means. For me, and as we understand, being sealed in the temple means that aslong as you keep your vows to Heavenly Father, then you and your spouse will attain exaltation.

    If you get married civily first, then you have to wait a year before getting sealed. God forbid, but what if your spouse dies by whatever means within that year. If that were to happen to me I would want to die. I will NOT take that chance. The woman I will marry, I love her so much. I could not bare the though that I lost my chance to spend eternity with her.

  35. The Church frequently claims that it is all about the family, and that it helps the family stay together for all eternity. I propose that the Church is just as much about destroying families and potential families. I recently dated a Saint and came to love her very much. I know we could have had a great family together and love each other forever. She eventually told me we couldn’t be together because I’m not Mormon. I was devastated. I try to see things like this from the perspective that Jesus might have and to keep love in my heart, but to be honest sometimes I feel that I have never had a deeper hatred for Mormons. One thing members don’t seem to realize is that there is a possibility that the doctrines are incorrect. Why should we destroy the ones who love us on Earth for something that may or may not be true. Even if we give our testimony a million times, this doesn’t justify hurting the ones we’re supposed to love. I think Jesus may have taken a scourge into the Temple and shouted, “You have made my Father’s house into a house of exclusivity and selfishness.”

  36. My daughter and her fiance’ are LDS members his family also but my daughters side are not ..I was devistated i cried for hours about not being able to be with her in the Temple..she is truely happy where she is today and I have some to accept my daughters beliefs and her happiness ..we will be waiting outside for them to walk out of the temple..then the following day we will have a ring ceremony and reception so that all can participate in the celebration of love…I actually quit my job to be with my daughter to help with planning the ring ceremony and reception. i live in Sc and she in Tx i will atleast feel that i have been apart of her wedding. If they love one another truely then let them do what they feel is right in their eyes..after all they are grown adults and not little children.and if the non LDS have to think about it as eloping then so be it …its their decision… thanks for letting me ramble ….mother of a LDS member

  37. This is to “mother of a LDS member in Sc”.

    I truly think that, as a non-member of the LDS church, the ring ceremony is going to be much more meaningful to you than if you were able to attend the temple portion of the marriage. There are reasons why the church makes one wait at least one year after joining the church before they can attend the temple. I think you would be sitting there, and watching and before you know it, it’s over and you are thinking “I missed something, what just happened?”

  38. when my husband and I got married, his brother was not allowed to attend – they wouldn’t give him a few days off from his mission to see his big brother get married. I thought that qualified as a big insult to us. The deal goes both ways; exclusion is not healthy.
    “Let our covenants, be that of the everlasting covenant, as it is contained in the holy writ, and the things which God has revealed unto us; pure friendship, always becomes weakened, the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 1, page 133)