It is true.
There will be no aisle. No processional or recessional. No teary eyed father lifting the veil off his daughter’s smiling face and handing over her hand to her awaiting groom. No little girl throwing petals on the ground or small boy carrying a pillow all tied up with rings. No alcohol induced reception shenanigans.
There will, however, be a white dress (well…mine is off-white). A marriage license. Witnesses. A bridal party. A happy couple emerging from the building to be met by happy family members. A reception. A ring exchange. A dance floor to rival the 70s with just as many cheesy dance moves. An overwhelming sense of happiness as two people begin a journey through life together as a new married couple. A cake cut and enjoyed with friends and family.
It may not appear as a typical Christian wedding, but that is because it is not. It is a Christian church, but it is one within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). This is where some of the difference stem from. LDS members believe that temples are especially holy buildings, as with any other religion. Like other churches, the church building itself is where Sunday worship, Sunday school, cultural events, and other fellowship activities take place. The temple is reserved for special kinds of worship and ceremonies, such as a wedding, called a “sealing” within the church.
In biblical times, God commanded his followers to build temples as sacred places of worship. Similarly, the LDS church builds temples today, beginning in 1836 with the construction of the temple in Kirtland, Ohio. There are more than 130 temples in the world today from the United States to Ghana and the Ukraine. Temples are generally not open to the public after they have been dedicated, however, prior to being dedicated there is a period of open house when tours are given to anybody that wants to come. Recently, a temple was built in Philadelphia and Andrew and I went to the open house, along with masses of people from all sorts of religious backgrounds- including some Amish individuals. After this period, in order to enter the temple you have to possess a Temple Recommend, which is obtainable as a baptized member of the church who is living by moral standards, following an interview with your local church leader.
Temples are not secret, they are sacred. But you do need that recommend to enter them completely (there is a waiting room for those who can not completely enter the temple). For this reason, there is a reception afterwards to include not only non-church members but also members of the church that for whatever reason can not enter into the temple. This is similar to when couples chose to have a small ceremony and just invite their friends and family to the reception.
But what is going on in the temple? What happens that I will miss because I am not in that room? Well, an officiator, or sealer welcomes those in attendance and gives advice to the couple. The couple kneels across from each other at an alter and makes promises, or vows, to one another and God. The believe that as they grow closer to God they also grow closer to one another. This is again, a common thought amongst many Christian peoples, and those of other faiths as well. A big difference is that in other churches couples are married until death do them part. In the LDS church couples are married for all of time and eternity because we believe that you are not only married for this life but also the next. The couple kisses across the alter at the end of the ceremony.
Why would someone opt to have this ceremony if they have friends and family that might not be able to enter to view the sealing room? Well, that is easy if you’ve read the rest of this. It is important. It doesn’t rob anybody of anything, it grants additional happiness. There is a ring ceremony that resembles a typical wedding ceremony at the reception for those who can not enter the temple. The only part that you “miss” by not being able to enter the temple is the sealing ceremony which was explained above. If after reading this you still have questions or need to change your RSVP status, I will understand as some people have chosen not to come based on this information, and that is okay. I will not be upset or angry or hurt. However, if you would still like to come despite the fact that it is different, I know we would greatly enjoy having you and we will all have a ball celebrating this important life milestone because I don’t know about you, but I am wearing my boogie shoes and will tear it up on the floor when the Cupid shuffle and electric slide come on and I would love to have you join us for that experience.
Thank you for reading this to the end, if you have ANY questions about the church, our wedding, or anything else (short of physics homework…I was never good at that) I will be glad to answer to my best ability or find a resource that can.