“But I Always Wanted to Give Her Away,” New Era, Feb. 1987, 38
A temple wedding should be one of the greatest events of your life. But some people are a little anxious about the whole thing. They’re worried that a beautiful event could be marred by the fact that their non-recommend-holding parents can’t attend.
When mothers have been planning elaborate church weddings, and fathers have been anticipating “giving their daughters away,” they might be uncomfortable with the prospect of their children getting married in a ceremony that they cannot attend and consider untraditional.
It doesn’t always have to be an uncomfortable situation, however. If the couple understand the consummate importance of their decision to be married in the temple, and if they gently help their parents realize that importance, the wedding can become a cherished memory.
“One of the most important things that a couple must realize before they go to the temple is that this is the most vital ordinance they have come to the earth to accomplish,” says a former temple president. “At the point when they’re sealed, they have the promise that they’ll be able to be together forever, and have a continuation of their family even after the resurrection.
“The bride and groom need to give top priority to their desires to achieve eternal life.” He noted that the temptation to have a civil ceremony, rather than a temple ceremony, in order to please the parents, should not be indulged.
Once the bride and groom establish the fact that a temple ceremony is the best way to begin an eternal family, the object is to help the parents who don’t have recommends to understand the couple’s feelings. The bride and groom must also help the parents feel involved in the wedding plans, despite the fact that they won’t be able to attend the ceremony.
“If the parents can’t attend the wedding, it’s important to get them very involved in everything else,” said Karen Foutz, whose parents were not recommend holders when she was married. Including the parents in the planning of wedding breakfasts or dinners, showers, and the reception can help. Karen made the occasion successful by letting her mother take care of most of the reception plans and having her grandmother sew her wedding dress. “That way, they felt like they were a part of everything, rather than feeling alienated from it all,” she said.
The non-recommend-holding parents can also have a positive experience on the temple grounds while they wait during the ceremony. They could tour the visitors’ center, where guides, if alerted to the situation, can tailor a tour specifically to the parents’ interests and needs. A former temple president suggests having the sealer who performs the ceremony come out and talk to the parents after the ceremony. And, of course, the parents can be on hand to greet the couple when they come out of the temple.
A temple president recalls one situation when this challenge was handled particularly well. The bride’s parents were able to attend the ceremony, but the groom’s parents could not. During the engagement, the bride’s parents made special efforts to fellowship the groom’s parents. At the ceremony and on the temple grounds afterwards, the parents of the bride were careful to keep the guest list to a minimum, so the groom’s parents would not feel overpowered. It turned out to be a beautiful experience for all the parents, and for the bride and groom as well.
In many countries outside of the United States, a couple is required to be married by civil authorities before going to the temple to be sealed. If the law requires it, two ceremonies are acceptable. Otherwise, if a couple wants to be married civilly, they must wait a full year before they can be sealed in the temple.
On occasion, no matter how many precautions the bride and groom take, some parents fail to understand the significance of eternal marriage.
They feel bitter and hurt. In such instances, an outpouring of love and understanding might be the only salve that heals these wounds. The bride and groom should take it upon themselves to be compassionate and understanding toward the parents in this situation.
But if both sets of parents and the bride and groom realize the significance of the temple ceremony, couples won’t need to be anxious about parents’ hurt feelings. After all, what father wouldn’t rather have his daughter eternally happy, than experience 60 seconds of pride as he escorts her down an aisle?