“Helping Your Family Share Your Joy,” New Era, Oct. 2004, 44
When my husband and I married in the Jordan River Utah Temple, his parents, grandparents, and other relatives were in the sealing room with us. My mom, a worthy Church member who had not yet received her temple recommend, waited for us in the lobby. She knew the importance of temple covenants and wanted me to be married for time and all eternity. Still, “It was the loneliest hour of my life,” she told me later.
A temple wedding should be filled with joy, but the joy can be bittersweet if your parents can’t attend the ceremony. With some prayerful planning, however, you can help your parents share your joy even when they can’t witness your sealing.
As Bryce and Danielle made wedding preparations, they wanted to be sure Danielle’s dad was a part of every detail. “We had a family talk and went over the details of the day and made sure my dad was comfortable with everything,” Danielle says.
Danielle and Bryce also shared with her dad what they could appropriately tell about temple sealings. “We let him know that the sealer would give us a few words of counsel and then perform the marriage. We made it relevant to him and his experiences,” Danielle says.
As the wedding day approached, Danielle and her mom received their endowments on the same day. During Danielle and Bryce’s marriage at the Salt Lake Temple, Danielle’s dad and grandparents toured Temple Square and the visitors’ center. “The most important thing is making sure they’re not alone,” Danielle says. “A few of my relatives offered to stay with my dad instead of coming to the sealing. That helped.”
After the wedding, Danielle and Bryce had pictures taken in front of the temple, including some photos of Danielle and her parents. The group then went to a wedding luncheon, where Danielle’s dad spoke to the group about his daughter and her new husband. “Having my dad speak at the lunch made him a part of things,” Danielle says. Before and after the wedding, Danielle made sure her dad knew how much she loves him. “I think expressing that you love your parents, that you want them to be part of your day, that they’re not any less a part of your life because they can’t come to the ceremony—I think that is the most important thing.”
Danielle suggests that preparing parents for your temple marriage begins long before your engagement. “I would make sure that your parents know that it’s a priority for you, so it’s not a surprise when it comes up,” she says. “I would pray a lot. Not only do you need to be blessed with the right words, but your parents need to be softened to understand that you’re not doing this to hurt them. Be patient and loving and understanding.”
Jeff and Kourtney were married in the Oakland California Temple three years after Jeff’s baptism. When Jeff joined the Church, his parents had many concerns. “One was that they wouldn’t be able to see him get married,” his wife Kourtney recalls.
As Jeff and Kourtney made wedding plans, they spent a lot of time with both sets of parents. Jeff says. “Brothers and sisters also feel they’re missing something as well. Include them in the wedding planning so they’re a part of it as much as they can be.”
Every step of the way, Jeff and Kourtney were sensitive to the feelings of Jeff’s parents. Jeff bore his testimony of the gospel and the temple to his family and gave his parents a book that explained the purposes of the temple and said that it’s not secret but sacred. “Explain to them why this is important to you, and hopefully they’ll see things through your eyes,” Jeff advises.
“Looking back, part of what made things go so well was the education and preparation of those not knowledgeable about the Church,” Jeff says. “My parents may not have agreed with my decision to join the Church and the resulting effect that I would get married without their participation, but they completely supported my wife and me that day. Their love for us transcended any disagreement about the Church.”
Brad introduced Jenna to the gospel when they were 17. He baptized her just a week after she turned 18. “My parents were present when I took the discussions and were not shy about asking questions,” Jenna says. “But they always thought that this was a fleeting thing with me.”
Brad and Jenna wrote to each other during Brad’s mission. When Brad returned from his mission and asked Jenna to marry him, “my parents realized that this was not a fleeting thing,” Jenna says. “For two years my parents knew they would not be able to see me be married, but it wasn’t until Brad and I began to plan and prepare that their hurt began to show. They felt left out. They felt as if they were being told that they weren’t good people because they weren’t members and didn’t have temple recommends. Brad and I had even considered having a civil marriage and then waiting a year to be sealed. However, I knew in my heart that I needed to stand up for what I believe in. We needed to be an example to my parents, our friends, and family.”
While Brad and Jenna were being sealed, one of the temple workers talked to Jenna’s parents about the temple. Jenna had planned one more thing: “I gave my parents each a card telling them how much I loved them and that I knew someday they would understand why I had made this decision.”
The day after their sealing, Brad and Jenna continued their wedding celebration. Back home in Wisconsin, they publicly exchanged rings and held a reception at the church. “My mom and father-in-law both gave talks,” Jenna says. “We tried to make my family feel as involved as possible.”
As Jenna looks back on her wedding, she remembers the tender feelings she shared with her parents. “I know more than anything that they were able to feel the Spirit in the temple waiting room and that Heavenly Father helped them to feel at peace and to know that the decision I was making was right.”
With some planning, your wedding day will be meaningful for your parents and friends, whether they can enter the temple or not. Here are some ideas to help you prepare. Prayerfully consider how best to include your parents on your wedding day. Advance preparations will not only help your parents feel part of your marriage but will help them feel the reverence and sacred spirit of the temple.
Before the Wedding
Make sure your parents understand why a temple sealing is important to you. Share your testimony with them.
Show your parents pictures of the sealing room and celestial room, such as those in the publication “Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (item no. 35863000, available online at www.ldscatalog.com or through the Church Distribution Services).
If your parents are Church members, encourage them to attend their ward’s temple preparation class.
Make sure you are fully prepared to enter the temple. You’ll be better able to help your parents understand your decision.
Involve your parents in wedding preparations as much as possible. Call on their talents and strengths so they know you still need them and want them to be a part of your day.
Remember to include your siblings and extended family in your plans. They will want to be a part of your special day too.
Keep the guest list small not only to help keep the ceremony sacred but to help your parents not feel overwhelmed and outnumbered at the temple.
At the Temple
Call the temple you are planning to get married in and find out what they can do to help you include your parents.
Have a friend or family member keep them company and answer questions.
Write a letter of appreciation to your parents expressing your love and gratitude for all they’ve done for you. Have a friend or family member deliver the letter to them during the ceremony.
Before or after the ceremony, have family photographs taken in front of the temple. Take some photos of you with just your mom and dad.
Even with all you can do in advance, your parents may still feel left out when your wedding day finally arrives. Be aware of their feelings. Express your love to them often throughout the day.
After the Wedding
Invite your parents to stand and speak to your guests at an after-wedding meal or gathering.
If you have a reception or open house, set aside a time to honor your parents in front of your guests.
Write your parents a thank-you note.