Several of my family members are not LDS, and they feel hurt because they cannot attend my temple wedding. What can I do to help them understand and to ease hurt feelings?
A temple wedding can easily arouse parents’ fears of losing their child to a marriage and a church they don’t understand. Once I realized this, I decided to spend extra time with my family and to express how much I loved and appreciated them. I found that as I increased my efforts in this direction, the conflicts disappeared.
Lisa Elieson, Coppell First Ward, Lewisville Texas Stake
You might consider writing your feelings about temple marriage in a letter to your family members. A letter will give them a chance to think about what you have said without feeling a need to respond immediately.
Remember you are doing the right thing. The pain and heartache you may feel are momentary. It may not seem so now, but this too shall pass.
Amy Milligan, Jamestown Ward, Newport News Virginia Stake
My husband and I found that our family members had fewer hurt feelings about our temple wedding because we did not wait until we were engaged to explain that they would not be able to attend. Both of us had taken the time to explain the situation to loved ones on our own. Some learned about temple marriage from us even before we started dating.
Summer Thorp, London Fourth Ward, London Ontario Stake
As a former temple president, I have the following suggestions:
Help your parents understand that they will be given much recognition, respect, and appreciation at the wedding reception.
Help your parents feel complimented for teaching you to live an honorable life.
Share your concerns during the temple interviews with your bishop and stake president. These leaders can be helpful in relieving concerns and arriving at appropriate solutions.
Discuss your concerns with the sealer. In the Las Vegas Nevada Temple it is quite convenient for the sealer to come to the foyer and meet the parents. This gives the sealer the opportunity to compliment the parents and express his feelings about their son or daughter.
Samuel M. Davis, Morning Sun Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Sunrise Stake
I made a promise to myself that I would involve my family members as much as I could in my wedding plans. My stepmother helped me pick out my jewelry and helped with the flowers, and she and my father drove me to the temple and helped with photographs. I wrote letters to them frequently throughout my engagement and after the wedding, thanking them for their help and support. While the flowers, jewelry, and photographs were not of eternal significance in themselves, they helped my family feel involved.
Lisa Ashby, Cherry Hill Ward, Flagstaff Arizona Stake
My fiancé and soon-to-be in-laws helped me come up with a possible solution to involve my parents and sister. We all met together for dinner one evening so that our families could get to know each other. After dinner we took my parents to the visitors’ center near the temple. Inside were pictures of different temples and temple rooms. We talked about what it meant to be sealed. We also talked about the other purposes of the temple and why we attend. After that, we went into the foyer of the temple and showed them where they could wait while our marriage took place.
Not only did this night help my family understand the significance of our choice to be married in the temple, but it helped them to be comfortable in surroundings that were foreign to them. As the day of our wedding grew closer, I could see that the hearts of my family members were softening.
Heidi Beth Ryan, Ironwood Ward, Queen Creek Arizona Stake
To the extent possible, provide some ideas about the sealing ceremony. Someone expecting a ceremony in a large cathedral or hall may be quite surprised to learn that only a few people are typically present for a sealing ceremony. You might show your family a picture of a sealing room from the booklet Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1999; item no. 31138000, U.S. $2.00).
If your relatives will not be physically present to greet you afterward, be sure to speak with them shortly before the ceremony. With the excitement of the ceremony and picture taking, you may not remember to give your family a telephone call. I recall a tender phone conversation with my mother just before I left for the temple, which I believe helped soothe her hurt feelings.
Brad MacDonald, Lynnfield Ward, Cambridge Massachusetts Stake
In some countries a couple is required by law to be married civilly in addition to being married in the temple. That is not the case in the United States, but my fiancée and I considered having a civil ceremony after the temple sealing so that all of our family members could participate. We discarded that idea, however, because we felt we would not have been showing sufficient reverence for the sacred temple ceremony.
With the guidance of our bishop, we planned a simple family gathering that took place after the temple wedding, at the start of the reception. It was in no way a second wedding ceremony and did not contain any semblance of vows. We only expressed our feelings of love for each other and how our rings represented the eternal nature of marriage. We also arranged for our parents to speak and welcome the new spouses into each family. Afterward the bishop spoke on our beliefs about temple marriage and eternal families. This gave our family members a sense of being part of the wedding.
Donald Bigelow, Greenfield Park Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake
My fiancé and I found out the approximate time when we would be leaving the temple after the sealing and asked our family to arrive at the temple shortly before. We arranged for a good friend who was a Church member to greet our family outside the temple and wait with them in the waiting room. They seemed to feel that they were more a part of our wedding by being at the temple. Having them arrive in time to greet my husband and me kept the focus on what they could do instead of on what they were missing.
Cheryl Anne Merrick, Mapleton Seventh Ward, Mapleton Utah North Stake
I took strength from the scripture found in Mark 10:29–30: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
The day of our marriage was bittersweet. The temple experience was magnificent. Although the simple ring ceremony did little to appease my parents, my husband and I decided to focus on the temple experience and hope that time would heal the wounds.
I’m happy to say that the passage of time and our having children helped soften my parents’ hearts. They have come to see that I have a wonderful husband and family, and I continue to hope that one day they will recognize the positive influence of the temple in our lives.
Adrienne Vanderkooi, Oshawa First Ward, Oshawa Ontario Stake
When my husband and I were planning our temple wedding, we did not feel right about inviting a large number of people to attend the sealing when both of our immediate families would be waiting outside. When our wedding day came, my husband and I went to the temple to be sealed with only a few others in attendance. We felt blessed that it was simple and sweet and that our families did not feel so excluded.
Mary Ann Olsen, Fox Pointe Ward, Kaysville Utah Haight Creek Stake
There were many things that were helpful as I planned my wedding. First, the principles of prayer and fasting were reaffirmed in my heart. I asked my fiancé’s family to participate in fasts for my family so that they might come to understand why a temple marriage was important to us. I also did my own personal fasts. Second, every time I attended the temple, I put the names of my family members on the prayer roll. Third, I read my patriarchal blessing often. Most of all, I relied on my faith and testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. It is through Him that I was able to have the strength to do what was right.
I knew I needed to follow Heavenly Father’s commandments, and He provided the way. In the end, my parents’ hearts were softened. Through the years, they have come to better understand why the eternal marriage covenant is so important to me.
Renee Senger-Layton, Oquirrh Seventh Ward, West Jordan Utah Oquirrh Stake
“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.”
President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Holy Temple (1980), 66–67.