Francine and I had both joined the Church years before we knew each other. None of our parents had, however. After we met, and after we decided to be married in the temple, we faced the difficult task of telling our families that they could not attend our wedding. Only worthy members of the Church were allowed to enter the temple, we explained.
Our families and friends were hurt—even upset. Their attitude was, “This is the most important day in your lives. How could you refuse to let us share it with you?” We knew they considered us inconsiderate and ungrateful.
Loving our families very much, we felt the weight of this quandary. We also wanted the other nonmembers who had influenced our lives—friends we loved and respected—to know that we cared about them and their feelings. We wanted them all to feel appreciated.
But we also wanted to be married in the temple.
After considerable prayer, we finally arrived at an answer: Rather than have a reception honoring us, the newlyweds, we would have a reception honoring our guests.
We specified on the invitations that the reception would include a program at the beginning. We were careful to have all the posed photographs taken before our guests arrived. Then, at the specified hour, we met the guests in a receiving line for about twenty minutes. We then asked everyone to be seated.
Our bishop conducted the program, starting with a prayer. We didn’t want to offend our many nonmember guests, and so we were glad to learn later that many had appreciated the prayer. Our program consisted of two musical numbers and three talks. First, the bishop explained eternal marriage so clearly and beautifully that, according to our guests, many felt feelings of joy and enlightenment that they had never felt before.
Then Francine and I spoke. We told briefly and simply of our feelings for each other, our families, and our friends. We publicly expressed our love and appreciation. Then we shared our understanding and testimony of eternal marriage.
The program closed with a prayer and blessing on the refreshments. While we ate we mingled with our guests. Many asked questions about temple marriage and expressed appreciation for our testimonies. My father-in-law repeatedly thanked me for the program.
“Now I don’t even miss walking Francine down the aisle,” he said. After the refreshments came a “money dance,” a tradition from my parents’ European background. In a money dance, the bride and groom start dancing together, but someone who wants to cut in can do so by pinning a dollar bill on the bride or groom. With our money dance, many of our guests had a chance to chat with either Francine or me. They told us they loved us; they even told us they were glad we were Mormons.
Afterward, many guests said it was the best reception they’d ever attended. Our parents seemed proud and happy.
By making our reception a gift to our guests, we were able to give them the greater gift; insight into eternal marriage and the Lord’s great plan of eternal progression.